My mother tells me that when I was a kid, the doctors would inform her that I was underweight. I ate like any normal child; I just was blessed, for a time, with a ridiculously high metabolism. I was not an athletic child. We moved a lot, and I preferred the company of books. Still, my parents tried.
When I played t-ball, the coach took one look at the two girls on his team and promptly put us both in the outfield. Clearly us girls were not an asset to the team, and even hitting a stationary ball wasn’t likely to bring the action to us. Out of boredom, I resorted to picking flowers during practice. My coach, despite being the one who made the decision to put me out there, was apparently not pleased with my lack of attention to the game. He lobbed a ball in my direction hoping to “wake me up”. He hit me in the head instead. Some who know me might describe me as stubborn, but I assure you I was more so as a child. I didn’t make it much longer in t-ball after that.
My dad, being in the military, was a runner around this time. He was convinced that I had great potential to be a runner. I was tall with long legs and, as previously mentioned, skinny. He signed me up for a race that we would run together, a simple two mile run called the Mosquito Run. (We lived in Alaska, it’s cute!) During the race I wanted to stop and walk. I was tired and hadn’t had very much experience running. But my dad took it Very Seriously. We made it through the race, but as I’m sure you can guess, I didn’t pursue running after that. I did, however, wear my race t-shirt until I grew out of it.
In the winter we lived very close to a small ski slope with a lodge and skating rink that we’d go to frequently. I liked to ice skate and wasn’t terrible at it, but this is Alaska in the winter, and I really don’t like being cold. I spent more time in the lodge drinking hot chocolate than on the rink. I’d occasionally get on the bunny slope but the one time my dad tried to take me on the more grown up slope ended in disaster as well. He wanted me to learn the Proper Form, and I just wanted to point my skis in the direction of the bottom and go. Now, I love my dad, and I don’t want you running away with the idea that he was an awful parent. He was a wonderful parent and spent apparently a fair bit of time trying to teach things to his stubborn non-athletic daughter with limited success. I did take somewhat to cross-country skiing, but that was only because I was light enough to be pulled by our St. Bernard.
I never made it out of beginner’s swimming because I couldn’t quite get the hang of timing my breath. I didn’t have the upper body strength for gymnastics, and I wasn’t about to do pushups to get it. I lasted a bit longer in ballet, but if you’ve ever done ballet you know it is cliquey AF. By the time I was 10 my overall lack of enthusiasm for any form of athleticism was well known and somewhat of a family joke. For Christmas my brother gave me a mug that had a cartoon snake laying on a cartoon easy chair saying “I’m not lazy, I’m just conserving energy.” It was my favorite mug, I wonder what happened to it.
So here’s the moral to my story. It is CLEAR that exercise is so not my thing, so why do I do it? Well, I’m not that skinny little kid any more. What I am is a 38 year old woman with plantar fasciitis, sciatica back pain, and a host of other age related ailments. I know that the more I move now, the more I’m going to be able to keep moving into the future. As much as I still loathe exercise I do feel better after it’s done. Make no mistake, exercise for me is not about weight loss. If it were, I’d get discouraged and throw the whole thing away real quick. I still struggle with it, especially in the deep dark winter when my books and blanket and tea are calling me. But I get back up and drag myself back out there, and I’m hoping you’ll do it with me. Along the way we may just talk about ways to make it suck less, and really, isn’t that worth it?