I need to confess something to the blog reading world: I have started to exercise again.
Back in 2011, when I blogged almost daily, I also was exercising often. On August 20, 2011, I walked my first official 5k “race.” Hours later, I lived out 30 minutes of terror at the hands of children throwing balls at the lever which then dunked me. The result of the dunk tank experience was a herniated disc that still bothers me to this day…it has changed my life, and it has limited my ability to exercise to a no-impact regimen of “running” in deep water.
I joined the Bismarck YMCA in September.
I went to a water aerobics class one evening in October, and I was kind of turned off by the class. The instructor was not really clear in her instructions, and she was not super inviting to newcomers. There seemed to be an established group of attendees, and I did not see hope in breaking in. I also discovered that even a few minutes of impact (jumping jacks) in the pool aggravated my injury.
I was not sure what to do, but I remembered that walking has always been my best form of exercise. I returned to the pool in November, picked a lane, and started to “run” in the water…and I have been running ever since most days of the week when I am in town.
I feel better when I have put in a day’s run, and I am starting to feel results in terms of strength, endurance, and attitude.
On Tuesday, I did something crazy as I changed into my suit in the locker room: I looked at myself in the mirror.
Pause for a minute: I do not have a full length mirror in my bedroom anymore. We did not do this on purpose, but our mirror in Minneapolis was not ours – it was in the house when we moved in, so we left it there when we moved out. The only full length mirror in our new house is on the wardrobe in our guest room. For the first several months in our new house, we did not even have a face mirror in our bathroom – I had to go upstairs to look in the main floor bathroom after doing my hair to be sure it looked ok.
The mirror at the YMCA is not one that I have ignored – there is one in each row of lockers/changing areas. But Tuesday was different: I actually looked at me.
Pause again: Like most women, I have spent many years struggling with how I look and with doing things to alter how I look. While I haven’t had surgery to change anything, don’t think I haven’t considered it! I would love to get rid of the elephant rolls on the inside of my knees, and my thighs would not need to greet each other with every step. And then there is my booty…
I realized that the mirror at the YMCA tells a pretty accurate picture. There is nothing altering it to change how I look. And I just looked at myself standing there, swimsuit on, about to go out to the pool with all of the kiddos in swim lessons, their parents peering at them through the observation glass from the lobby, the teachers, and the lifeguards.
What was amazing was that I did not mind the accuracy of the mirror. Yes – there are flaws, but I see loads of others with flaws as I enter the pool area. The swim instructors all have suits on, and they are all “normal” people who probably would pick out some things to change in themselves. The parents looking in from the lobby area may have clothing covering their flaws, but there are flaws.
And what are flaws anyway?
Does a different body type from some ideal that I have in my head or that you have in your head create a “flaw”? And – if there are flaws out there – is there someone out there that is flawless?
I doubt it.
Even those who are the least flawed look at themselves and wish that something about them would be different.
As I climbed into the pool, I started to write this post in my mind. What I want to share is that – at least on Tuesday – I was thrilled that I was moving and doing rather than working toward some ideal in my head that likely would not be attained anyway.
For the first time in my life, I am not concerned about fitting into some size for some event so that I can look better than I do today.
For the first time in my life, what I want to do is create a lifelong routine that does not stop when the “big event” or number dictates that I have reached something. I just want to feel good, move well, and know that I am helping my body be better. If looking “better” (what does that mean????) is a side effect, then great.
I certainly hope that this content feeling stays for a while because feeling alive in my own skin rather than wanting to shirk away from the mirror is an amazing feeling…one that I am quite sure God is pleased about. He created me in His image, and – while I’m not entirely sure that means my outsides look like His (does He have outsides??) – He certainly wants me to be radiating His image.
…and that is easier to do when we are not hiding from ourselves.