A New Perspective on Fitness

Sunday I finished my first full week back at a gym.  The last time I did the formalized gym experience was way back in grad school ten years ago (holy crap).  I’ve got a lot of gear at home and a nice little set up in one of our spare rooms (one of those reasons why we have no room for kids in our 4 bedroom house…), but since December (when I got felled by…I forget…the flu? An epic cold? I don’t remember, just that I was home for most of a week from work), I’ve just been in a rut.  I haven’t been completely lazy–I’ve stuck with taekwondo, sporadically lifted weights, intermittently done yoga, run through assorted workout DVDs (I’m a big fan of the Spartacus workout series), done my Wii boxing, and since we went back to being a two able-bodied dog household, walked the dogs every day.  But I’ve just generally felt in need of a change.  So when hubby got the chance through his job to sign us up for the biggest gym in town for $25 a month (that’s for BOTH of us–regular price there is $40 per person), it was like a sign from the workout gods.

I dove right in on Tuesday, opting to kick off my access to the full gamut of workout equipment with Nia Shanks’ 6 week Lift Like A Girl program.  It’s a bit more involved than the minimalist stuff I’ve been doing at home, and seemed a good transition.  And I also started Couch 2 5K–again.  This is the 4th time, I think.  I feel…squidgy and slow, and I’m forced to acknowledge that I am no longer 25–have not been 25 in a good long while.  But fine.  I don’t really feel limited by that.  I just have to accept it’s going to take me longer to get where I want to go.  I don’t have to be the fastest or the thinnest or the biggest badass.  I just want to be fitter overall and to get back into my next size down jeans.  And I got a great start on that, hitting the gym 5 days out of 7 this week, on top of TKD.

Gym woman push-up strength pushup exercise with dumbbell in a crossfit workout
I aspire to those shoulders and arms.

I’m not in competition with anybody, and I’m absolutely unconcerned with what anybody thinks if they happen to see me working out (though I would like to get back to that point where guys see how much I can lift and arch a brow because they are impressed–those were good days).  But today, as I was hitting the cooldown portion of my walk/jog (I’m not so arrogant to call what I was doing “running”), this girl walks in.  College student probably.  Athlete most certainly.  At no point in my lifetime have I ever looked like this lithe, tall, blonde goddess.  This was no God-gifted perfect body.  She was carved up with the kind of muscles you have to work for (though probably being, at most, in her early 20s had to help that).  And as I’m guzzling the last of my second bottle of water, I watch her do these dead lift-squat combinations (the kind of thing I think is really common in Crossfit)–and all I can think is I want to be that strong again.

I consider this a major milestone.  At so many points past in my life, I’d have wished to be that skinny or that beautiful or any other of a thousand things that showed how I (and millions of other women) have been socialized to think about body image.  It’s something I’ve been working on since college, this changing of my mindset to a new perspective on fitness.  The retraining of my brain to focus on fitness, strength, and health rather than the size of my butt or my thunder thighs has taken YEARS of effort and mindfulness.  And, frankly, it was pretty awesome to come up against something that would’ve made me feel bad about myself in the past and come out the other side feeling MOTIVATED, such that I could leave and send her a mental You Go Girl instead of trying to somehow Force Add pounds to her perfect ass (shut up, you know at some point in your life, you wished you had that Jedi mind trick).

I’ve got the next six weeks to get into the groove and see what impact I can have on my shape and the fit of my jeans.  And then I’ll make the call for how much to start mucking around with my diet.  Meanwhile, it’s time to break out the smaller plates, just to rein in my appetite a bit.  So that’s where I am.  Excited to have this new opportunity, with lots of things I’m working toward and want to try.

Here’s to a fitter, more flexible fall.

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