Being active is important to me. Kind of like brushing my teeth. Or using underarm deodorant (ok, I’ve been known to forget this once in awhile). But it wasn’t always like this:
Exhibit A: In my early 20’s, one of my house mates would drag me to the gym with her. She’d leave me at the stationary bikes while she went off to the weight machines. I would sit (no, not pedal, just sit) on the bike reading magazines and eating the twizzlers I smuggled in.
Exhibit B: Mid 20s. A friend who taught aerobics would come by to take me to her class. I would lock the door and pretend I wasn’t home.
Exhibit C: Older now. I made a deal with a friend to meet at the gym for morning workouts. I would sleep on the couch at the front entrance while she did the workout.
Generally, my activity level was always someone else’s mission.
Fast forward to the present. I miss a workout here and there but I’m ultimately committed to move myself in some way, shape or form on a daily basis. How did that happen? Well, not overnight. I am convinced it started with a paradigm shift and eventually it became habitual.
My turning point:
I met a friend at the peak of her fitness level and was really drawn to her level of commitment. When I asked her about it, she was more than happy to share her story. She started with small steps-putting running shoes on, going outside to see what happened next, committing only to walk for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, she would decide to go farther or just go home. No pressure, no fear of failure. Just surrender to moving her body for 10 minutes.
This was a light bulb moment for me. I realized I had unknowingly set expectations for myself and when I didn’t live up to these, I deemed myself a failure. The thought of failing was compounded going into the next workout until eventually, I didn’t want to do it any more. Who wants to spend time with an ‘inside voice’ telling them they suck? That’s right up there with sticking your finger in a light socket and getting shocked. Why would you do it again? Such anxiety. Failure and anxiety-yes, please. No thanks. I’m out.
I’m not suggesting that pushing yourself isn’t a good idea. Not at all! Reaching for that ‘mind over matter’ stage is crucial. But to get there, I think you have to experience self acceptance. I know. Scary; accepting yourself like that. Go hide! Run for the hills! Scream like a banshee! Sometimes it’s easier said than done but I have done it. I have moved there. I have slips now and again but having already been there makes it easier to return.
For me, being active is less about the activity and more about being a tangible representation of my commitment to:
- celebration of achievement;
- pushing limits; and
For whatever reason, it works for me.
An old pic of me and my son hiking.
Yes, those ARE ‘mom’ jean shorts. Yes my hands are in my back pockets like that!
PS-Did I tell you I have a penchant for not articulating myself very well? I have no idea if what I wrote here makes any sense whatsoever. Hopefully it does because it’s such a lovely story in my head.
What’s your story?
Note: I know I said nothing about body image or motivation or whatever else I didn’t happen to cover. Picture chipping away at an iceberg. It’s just one little step at a time!