I like working out WAY MORE now that I belong to a gym with a lovely, clean locker room and lots of stretching space … but I can’t say I love working out. Not indoors, not four times a week for two-plus hours at a time. I’d rather be writing, or sleeping, or watching “Finding Nemo” for the 89th time, or pretty much anything else. But I do it, and I do it consistently.
Well, I do feel better about myself when the clothes I already own fit me, so part of it is body shape maintenance. And I do want to live to a ripe old age, so part of it is for my health. But I also like to feel strong and tough.
People have told me all my life that I’m strong. Because I went to college far from home, because I quit all the jobs that made me miserable, because I asked for what I felt I deserved. But I never quite bought it. To me, strength is cultivated, intentional, definite. I felt like I could deal with catastrophe and challenge, but only because I have an excellent autopilot setting: I don’t even THINK about it, I just deal. Is that strength? It sure never felt like it.
And I never understood sports as a young girl, so I never possessed physical strength. I couldn’t do more than a handful of sit-ups, never lifted weights, nearly threw up after running the mile in gym class. I didn’t do anything physical until I was about 23, and then only grudgingly.
But now – after I’ve discovered that riding a 65-pound one-speed cruiser 12 miles per day is an impressive feat, after I’ve discovered that I CAN do Tae Kwon Do at 40, after I’ve discovered that pushing myself to plank for 3 minutes is kind of mind-blowing – I finally feel it. I am strong. On purpose. And I love it. I am tough because I work at it, because I push myself, because I have decided to be. Life didn’t make me this way, I MADE ME THIS WAY. And I love it.
It’s been a tough couple of years, both personally and physically, and I feel more delicate than ever in many ways. Perhaps that’s why it finally feels good to work out. I may loathe being trapped inside a gym, but it’s absolutely worth it for the payoff. I am strong and tough because I want to be. Finally.
Image courtesy Victoria Garcia.