Slow and Steady

As a child and teen, I was convinced that I was physically incapable. It was unclear why. As far as I knew, I didn’t have any illnesses. Yet, I kept failing in PE class. In 4th grade, we were given some sort of fitness assessment where we were supposed to perform a butterfly stretch. The teachers actually used a ruler to measure how far we could stretch and compared it to how far we were supposed to stretch for our grade level. I remember I was abysmally below being up to snuff. Later on, in karate class, this 12-year old barked at me to perform non-snake like knuckle pushups. I could barely do a regular pushup, let alone a knuckle!

In 8th grade, we had to complete two running assignments in alternating weeks. One was a 12-minute mile. Unfortunately for me, I had never run as much as a block, let alone a 12-minute mile. And since I was coming in late from my high school math class, I had less time to complete it than the other kids. There was also the pacer exam, where they had us run back and forth across the gym based on beeps that sounded. In some sort of Darwinistic fashion, the beeps got ever faster and when you couldn’t move anymore, you dropped out.

My heart used to feel like it was going to explode and I felt like I was dying – I was usually the first person out in a gym of a couple of hundred kids. I would leave despondent and scheming of ways to get out of being physically active ever again.

It took me the better part of a decade to muster up the courage to try being active again and I’m so glad I did. I finally learned to stop comparing myself to others. My only goal was to get moving and to get a little better compared to my self.

One of my good friends showed me her before and after photos and I asked her how she got started running. She invited me to run with her. She just said get on the treadmill and start. Then, I joined a local run club at my gym. There I learned anyone could run. We just had to put one foot in front of the other.

Sure, I’m not the fastest runner around, but I finish races! It has taught me that I am persistent, it’s almost meditative to get outside. And even with the other ups and downs in life, its something that I can always go back to. Even now, when I start adding on the miles, I’m always surprised by the results.

I’m more of a tortoise than a hare.
Photo by Marquas Dietachmair on Unsplash

I now have the energy and persistence to be more active with my daughter. I have the confidence to go play racquetball with my husband on date night. We can spend family time outdoors – an environment that brings us all immeasurable joy.

Outdoors hiking in the Smoky Mountains with my daughter

And I remind myself that yes, I am capable of setting and following through on consistent goals – and already have been for the better part of this decade!

Are there days when I don’t want to get off the couch and move? Absolutely! But I remind myself how I feel afterward and it has become enough of an ingrained habit that I go anyway. I just remind myself to change into gym clothes when I get my daughter ready for school. And I put my workouts on my calendar on Sunday – I schedule a time for myself. I love not being stuck in perpetual sloth mode. I feel a small sense of accomplishment throughout the week. And yes, sometimes I run for doughnuts and pizza 🙂

For the past year, I started to incorporate yoga – I enjoy meeting the same group of friends every week. I also love knowing that every Friday I have some me-time set aside no matter what else happens in the week, I’m going to leave Friday yoga with this feeling of contentment.

As I like to tell any friends who will listen – I don’t think the form of movement matters as long as its something you enjoy.

Almost a year ago, last Christmas, my brother-in-law asked me why do I workout? Why do I incorporate movement into my life? And I can honestly say because it’s a constant. It’s something I can come back to. I feel healthier – stronger, happier, more confident. And I now know that it doesn’t matter where you start – we all start at the beginning. I have so much more room to learn and grow, and yet, I can also celebrate how far I’ve come. I feel alive!

Celebrating after last year’s annual half-marathon with my husband.