It’s crept up on me, this “getting in shape” thing. My body is kind of odd. It gets stronger, develops more stamina, feels a bit firmer, but clings to its poundage like nobody’s business. When I went to the doctor a few weeks ago to have my shoulder looked at, the scale jeered at me (I heard it, okay), showing no change at all. I’ve finally realized that it doesn’t matter. A number is just a number.
What matters is the progress, the results. Last week, I swam 2 miles in the pool. Then I swam almost that in the lake. Saturday, I rode my bike to the Pueblo Nature Center, about 12 miles round trip and coming back, I rode all the way UP the hill on Reservoir Road that takes me to the nature trail leading out to the center. Previously, I had to walk the bike first all the way up, then half way. Saturday, I never got off the bike once. I conquered that hill.
Getting stronger is not wanting to get out of the pool as early, thinking ‘yes, I can swim 10 more laps’ or ‘Let me just do 5 more of breast stroke or back stroke’. It’s wanting to go further on the bike, wishing you had another snack so you could ride for another hour or so, feeling honestly comfortable on the bike seat.
It’s pushing those 10-pound dumbbells over your head another 10 times, then another and your arms don’t feel like Jello when you’re finished. It’s holding that balance pose in t’ai chi for 30 seconds instead of 10.
It’s also walking through a restaurant to meet an old friend you haven’t seen in a while and having them call you “buff”! In 54 years, NO ONE has ever called me “buff”.
It’s a sense of grace and purpose when you move, a certainty in the way you put your feet on the ground. It’s confidence and energy, wanting to eat good food, get good sleep. It’s an increased sensuality and appreciation for all things physical. Perhaps an odd side effect of exercise but there it is. In 33 days, I’ll jump off the boat into San Francisco Bay. At this point, I’m completely confident I’ll finish within the allotted time of 2 hours. I might even NOT be the last person done. But however it happens, whatever time I make, in the end, I will walk out of that water and be a winner. And one strong woman.