I woke up yesterday morning and worked out.
That statement probably doesn’t mean much to anyone but coming from me it means a great deal.
It was the first time since I was obsessed with this ridiculous (but awesome) Jane Fonda VHS tape as a teenager that I have gotten up in the morning and really moved. And not only did I move but I did deliberate things to build muscles that today are sore enough to make me feel like I was hit by a truck.
I truly want to be healthy. I truly want to feel good. I even like (reasonably) early mornings well enough. My mom and I have both had the goal for as long as I can remember to do a push up. She’s worked real hard at for a while now. I haven’t.
I don’t actually believe that I’ll ever be able to do a push up.
closer to the truth is that I’m terrified of the body that would be able to do one, because it wouldn’t be mine.
My body has stayed roughly the same since I was in fourth grade. It has grown in weight since then and my knees are not so painfully knobby, but for the average observer there are no real ups and downs.
I know I’m lucky. If I eat as badly as possible (and as a teenager I pretty much ate as badly as possible—anyone else binge on Jiffy peanut butter, PB Captain Crunch and Aunt Jemima’s on Wonder Bread in the middle of the night? Anyone??) or if I eat like a saint (at least compared to some) my body will look the same.
People assume that slender people are healthy. People assume that I'm healthy. It’s been a weird thing feeling the need to assure them at times in my life that I really wasn't. Where the heck does that come from??
I'm not unhealthy; I can climb a flight of stairs but might get winded doing so. I could probably run for my life if I had to but am really crossing my fingers that I won't have to. I like healthy food, though many of the things I like best to put in my body (coffee, alcohol and honey greek yogurt to name a few) aren't.
I started playing a game in the last year or so. It's called "I am a person who __________" and the game is to fill in the blank. The goal is to fill it with things you want, and notice even with small somewhat meaningless things how much resistance there can be to a statement.
I played it one day by wearing a belt. I never wear belts. I put one on, declared "I am a person who wears belts," laughed out loud and went out into the world to do errands. It was weird, but I rocked it. It felt good. I got home and my mama called. I answered the phone and there was silence for a few seconds. "Shawnee?" she finally asked. She didn't recognize my voice. That's the power of play.
In general "I'm a person who likes change." I love new places, new experiences, new people, new songs, new clothes, new understandings of myself and my world.
But I'm terrified of changes in my body.
My body is the one I've had forever. It's familiar; I know it inside and out (well, not a lot of the inside but some). Even the parts I'm not super stoked on are better than the unknown. If I could suddenly have the body I "wish" I had I doubt I'd be able to enjoy it. Because it's not me.
The voice that would be able to say "I am a person who works out (or does yoga, or runs, or even stretches for god's sake!)" has not been willing to speak, not even a whisper.
But I woke up yesterday morning and worked out.
And guess what? Just like that a 20 year streak was broken. A hard and fast rule in my psyche was demolished. It wasn't perfect. Certain things were difficult and painful, and my body was subject to many awkward and compromising positions.
I did it, and that's all it took. One action, one morning in May, and I am now a person who works out.
That's power, and that's beauty, and really, it's just plain fun.
I bought work out clothes. If I can move tomorrow morning I will most definitely get up and do it again. I'm excited to work with my body and see what happens.
And if I can change that big one so easily...what else is possible?
Now read out loud and fill in the blank:
"I am a person who ___________...."