Not a natural athlete

One of my goals for 2013 is to explore athleticism, to see how fit and strong I can get and what that journey will be like. I have never thought of myself as athletic. That was always something someone else (in particular, my older brother) was good at. I was the bookish one who could never even run a mile without stopping.

It didn’t help that my experiences in gym classes and on sports teams were almost uniformly negative. I did take dance classes from the age of three until I graduated from high school, but for some reason, my ability to dance en pointe never made me feel like I could be physically capable in any other realm.

So I focused on academics and became increasingly alienated from my body. I was smart, but I was also clumsy and chubby. It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I realized I didn’t have to be stuck in that role forever. We grow up and go out into the world, and if we pay attention, all kinds of possibilities open up for exploration and growth. So my goal here is to explore the possibilities for what I can do with my body and what it can become.

Happily, I’m not starting completely from scratch. Although I was overweight, out of shape, and depressed for most of my late teens and early twenties, I did at some point figure out that it felt good to move my body. I did a little bit of running in my early twenties but never worked up to running any meaningful distance. I went through phases where I walked consistently, and I took a few African dance classes here and there.

When I was 25 (I’m 34 now), I dropped out of grad school (where I had been miserable), lost 60 pounds, and began thinking of myself in a more flexible way. Maybe I could learn to do things that I had always assumed were impossible for me. A few years later, a move to the Rocky Mountains led to a higher activity level, and after the birth of my daughter in 2009, I joined a gym because the free childcare they offered was the only way I could get a break from the demands of parenthood.

Once going to the gym became a regular part of my life, I increased my overall level of fitness quite a bit. I started a Couch to 5k program more than once, but never made it all the way to running 3.2 miles without stopping (that’s one of my goals for this year). I also rediscovered my love of dance in 2012 when I found some pole fitness videos on Youtube and started taking classes in that form of dance.

Hopes and dreams for this year will go in a separate post, but overall, I want to stop dabbling in fitness and find a way to let out my inner athlete. I have gradually changed the way I see myself so that I can conceive that this is possible, but I’m not there yet, and it’s going to be quite a journey to get there. I hope some readers will follow along with me and share aspects of their own journeys.

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