At what point can someone call themselves an athlete? After they win something other than a finisher’s medal or a personal best award? After a coach calls them such, as if knighting them with a PVC pipe? Or is someone an athlete simply by giving their all when participating in a sport. Is a participant, Read More
50 miles of dirt, mud, inclines, declines, switchbacks, branches, roots, rocks, gravel, cold, frost…Appalachia in November. I’m going to run this. Or at least try.
Why? Because I probably shouldn’t. Not because it’s 50 miles, though there’s that, but because I’m one of the 5-10 percent of Americans with Raynaud’s. (Many are undiagnosed, as they have never heard of the disorder.)
Chad and I did not discuss my goals: stay skinny, get skinnier, impress Adonis (that goal died along with my crush)…But I’m sure he knew I was there for the workout, not the sport.
I am sure it showed that I had no visions of grandeur. I did not walk into Trident each morning hoping that that would be the day I swung a kettlebell heavier than 18 pounds. I did not sleep each night dreaming of one day doing a muscle-up. I did dream of getting pull-ups but that’s because I firmly believe I was traumatized by the President’s Challenges that plagued my youth.
None of this is to say that I didn’t want to do my best. I am a Type A, afterall. I just believed my best stopped far short of most things the WODs called for. Chad and the other coaches disagreed. They pushed me. I listened, sometimes, sort of. For the first year, at least, my goals remained the same, numbers on scale down, number of ab-packs up.
And then, I got my first pull-up. And then, I lifted a 23-pound kettlebell. And then, I switched from defaulting to a 55-pound loaded bar to a 65-pound loaded bar. And then, I started to get real push-ups. And then, I climbed a rope, to the top. And then, I scaled a wall, a wall, without help. And then I ran my second marathon and P.R.’d.
I suddenly saw myself as capable. Suddenly believed the words Chad had said during my first month at Trident, “You have a natural ability for this. You’re stronger than you think you are.”
That’s when the goals began to shift. I began to care more about the weights I was pushing than the weight I was dropping. I say began to shift because it took time for me to to accept that aiming for strong meant not aiming for skinny. That I would trade the waifish look. That losing the waifish look was OK. That the curves of muscles were not the curves of fat. That thighs touching because of adductors was not thighs touching because of fat. I could not attain strength without building muscle. It just doesn’t work like that.
Letting go of one goal, one held for so long, in pursuit of another was and is challenging. But each victory in the gym cements my love for my body not because of how it looks but because of what it can do.
I started dieting at age 9. I spent years being overweight and then years being anorexic and then years working to find a healthy middle.
I picked up my first barbell in hopes of losing that pesky 5-10 pounds. I keep picking up the barbell because, aside from it being a world of fun, I one day hope to overhead squat my bodyweight. (And maybe do a muscle-up.)