Running Toward: Fitness

Fitness has been an interest of mine for quite a long time. But in absolute truth, I spent most of my time being a closet fitness hopeful. What that means (ok, I don’t even know what it actually means…) for me is that I spent a great deal of time on the outside looking in. Growing up, I had an abundance of energy. I couldn’t sit still but playing sports, being active in general were tragedies reserved for Shakespearean times.

I had no coordination.

I had no skill.

I had no confidence.

In short…I was kind of a tragic sight to behold.

I had no one to encourage me to keep trying if it was something that I really wanted to do. That it would take time, patience and practice but I would eventually get it if I worked hard, stay determined and allowed my failed attempts to teach me rather than discourage me.

I distinctly remember many times wishing I could play on a team and be good at something, anything. God did not gift me with any natural talent when it came to sports (or confidence). I honestly assumed and was led to believe that you either had “it” or you didn’t. In some ways there is truth to that because there are people who just have a natural ability to either move well/fast etc or the mental toughness to conquer any task regardless of how well they are suited or trained to it. But that’s so far from the complete picture. I wish I could go back and smack some sense into my younger self. Repeatedly.

So rather than looking for different approaches to reach my goals, I completely gave up and decided that God made me to watch and cheer from the sidelines, not participate. In fact, as soon as gym was no longer a required course in school, I stopped taking it and essentially stopped doing anything that required me to attempt a sport or fitness. I was simply tired of feeling embarrassed by my short-comings.

It would be a good decade before I would allow myself to fall in love with activity again. In the interim, I tried several different gyms, classes and working out on my own. Nothing ever stuck. I enjoyed some of the stuff I did but it was very lonely and I never felt that those were the places where I belonged. It seemed more like a place to show off not show up and I wasn’t interested in showing off. I really had nothing too show off outside of a pretty impressive compilation of sweat stains (thanks for that genetics…).

Eventually, I decided to stop wasting money on gyms I didn’t like and fell into running. It wasn’t something that I was particularly gifted at but it brought about a sense of freedom. It was a key factor in my battle against postpartum depression and it was something that I enjoyed doing on my own. I found registering and running in races to be encouraging because it was a place that welcomed any skill level and there was no shortage of encouragement along the way (there WAS however a lack of food at the end of the race for us tortoises 🙂 ).

Running became my sanctuary and what I loved to do. Unfortunately, I loved it a bit too much and never ran in a mechanically sound way and so gave birth to multiple injuries and a lot of time being back on the sidelines watching others do what I longed to be doing.

During a particularly long season of injury, followed by a long season of pregnancy, I started looking for other options and reasons for why I was always injured, why I wasn’t moving well and why I felt like I had plateaued as far as strength and endurance and speed went. Over 5 months of injury and continued therapy throughout my pregnancy with various professionals and no one could explain to me what my underlying problem was. What was the root cause of all my injuries and how could I get past that.

Of all the places to find those answers, I eventually did: a gym. Not a traditional gym but one that embodied the belief system, the values and essentially everything I felt a healthy living community should embody. The only difference was that this one wasn’t in my head, it was living and breathing. And it had kettle bells and battle ropes…those weren’t in my head either.

It took a good year before I finally had the courage to check them out. I was 2 months postpartum, feeling completely foreign in my own body and scared out of my mind to walk into this place. Thankfully, I did and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about movement and it’s really ignited a passion that God has always had on my heart but I could now visualize what it actually looked like in practice.

Over the last year of being at home on maternity leave, God has also put on my heart that it was time to say goodbye to the corporate, white-collar, 9-5 work I’d been doing for the past 11 years. The call was clear: it was time to focus my days on my family but it was also time to breathe life into my passions. A lot of doors have closed in the last few months but some very important and exciting ones have opened at the same time. The balance it is providing can only be from God and I’m very thankful (and ridiculously nervous!) about it all. I never would have thought that I would have the opportunity to spend maximum time at home with my kids and be able to share my passion for health and fitness with those around me but that’s exactly the road I’m currently walking on.

It’s intimidating because even though it’s a path that ignites my spirit, it’s also one that takes me so far out of my comfort zone that I end up with pit stains down to my ankles just thinking about it. This shy, self-conscious girl would never have thought it possible to stand in front of a group of people and help them learn how to move well, be strong and be healthy. It’s not a natural position for someone who is more comfortable standing in the back of the room being invisible to embrace but I’m going to do my best to not only embrace it but to thrive in it. When a passion is alive, you can’t help but let it pour out of you.