I was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman behind me asked me if I was a “runner”. If you know me, you have to know that this erroneous assumption gave me the thrill of my day. I work at running; however, I am NOT what you would call a natural runner. At the market, I was wearing a short athletic type skirt and a tank top, and I have to think that her comment was inspired by the definition in my calves and arms. I work hard. I have a lean body. It feels great to have somebody notice and appreciate it. She then commented that she just loved my whole look. (Wow! Definitely made my day!) I explained to her that I was a trainer and not a runner; although, I further clarified, that I often sign up for races to inspire me to run, as it is something difficult for me and therefore, it challenges me. So here’s the dig, the rub, the burr in my saddle… She obviously would like to be more fit. I could see it in her face. When I suggested training sessions, she had excuses… a lot of excuses. So, how do you get from just wishing in the grocery store checkout line to being what you desire?
As a trainer, this is such a big issue to me. Everybody has excuses. I can come up with a ton myself. I’m not where I want to be with my body and I’m embarrassed to be seen outside. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. My feet hurt, my back hurts, my neck hurts… Seriously, I don’t have to help anybody figure out more excuses for not being the best they can be. Americans… we’ve got the excuse racket figured out and wired hard. I HAVE BEEN THERE.
I have been a “gym rat” since I was in my twenties. I taught glacier climbing, rock climbing, and mountaineering for fifteen years. I was a competitive swimmer, an ultra-long distance hiker, an avid cyclist, a maniacal downhill skier, and a triathlete. Life issues, health issues, excuses happened to me. I became unfit and unhealthy. I used every excuse in the book to stay that way. I basically gave up on having a good life. I settled for less than I wanted and less than I deserved. I completely quit stepping on the scale, posing for photographs and looking in the mirror. I was lying to myself and I did not want to face reality or the truth. It is hard to say exactly what it was that made me turn around. That elusive moment in time where I decided to stop lying to myself and start caring again. But the biggest thing in my fitness evolution was the willingness to stop hiding and face the truth. The whole entire, bitter, and ugly truth. I disrobed, stepped on the scale and weighed in at over 200 lbs with 47 percent body fat. How in the hell did an athletic and energetic person who is also a certified personal trainer, allow this to happen? HOW?
You know what? The How DOES NOT MATTER. What matters, and it is the only thing that matters, is that I was ready to change. I was willing to stop making excuses and lying to myself. I was willing to do whatever it took to once again, become fit and healthy. I started where I was… Embarrassed to be seen outside, I walked inside my house… first for 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, and then and hour. I did laps through the kitchen and through the living room, and up and down the hall. Gradually, as my weight dropped and my fitness increased, I stepped outside into a brave new world. Once again, I was able to embrace my old friends: hiking, cycling, kayaking, swimming, skiing, and working out at the gym. It took nearly two years to complete the transformation from unhealthy to fit. Through it all, what I needed to remember, was that I can always start where I am. There were days when the scale was not my friend. A weight gain of 3 pounds on a given day could have sent me on a downward spiral, but while a 3 pound weight gain was excruciating, giving up would not make it better. I must remember that I don’t need to lose weight before I exercise. Yes, it is an excuse that I made and one that I have heard from others as well. I don’t need to have a fancy gym membership, or yoga pants, or even proper shoes (although these things are great). I don’t have to be able to run a marathon, I just have to be willing to move my body. I just have to be willing to do what I can. I just have to be willing.
So, when I see somebody who is reaching out and obviously would like to change their life for the better, I want so desperately to give them this message. You can change. It’s not too late. You just need to start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.
Out the door for a morning jog…