I was trying a new type of crunch the other day, and asked Steve to keep his hand on my stomach to make sure it stayed engaged. As he was pushing down, he exclaimed, “You’ve got some good six pack muscles in there!” I agreed, it’s just the thin layer of fat that renders my six-pack invisible.
I was thinking about progress, physical progress specifically, and what my new trainer and I would talk about at our first meeting. He was the trainer for my rugby team back in 2002/2003 and has made me a handful of training programs over the years, although we haven’t worked together since I had kids.
I was thinking about myself, these past three years, how I’ve lost almost 60lbs since Alena was born, about how I started huffing and puffing for one kilometre when she was a month old, how I was so diligent during those first six month at Weight Watchers, at training for my first pre-baby 10k and then half-marathon. I thought about how far I’ve come, and even though it’s felt like these rewards have been a long time coming, it’s really been a fairly short period of time.
I was thinking about how I would compare my 29-year-old self to my 22-year-old self. Things are so different now, and generally speaking I am happier, easier, more relaxed. My life is calmer now, I am more confident. I’m not sure that I’m stronger, but at the very least, I’m more aware of the strength I possess.
The first 10k that I ever ran, I ran with Steve. It took me about an hour and twenty minutes, I think. It was a horrible day. Cold, windy, rainy. The race route had been changed that morning because the bridges were closed due to high winds. Halifax is an extremely hilly city and combined with the wind, cold and improper training, it was a really hard run. Back ten, I didn’t have the mental tools to tap into my strength. I didn’t know how to find the thoughts that allow you to dig deep and push through. I think these thoughts come more naturally to some than others.
Many things haven’t come easily to me, and I used to think that made me “less”. Because it’s easy for me to gain weight and hard to lose it, because I don’t naturally possess the “fire” that drives some to push themselves through layers of pain, because I’m not a perfectionist. I’ve spent most of my life wanting to be something, someone else. I’ve spent too much time thinking about the things I can’t change and how if only I could change them, I would be better somehow.
I haven’t given enough praise to the things that I do wonderfully. I am a good mother. And while I’ve always stated that I don’t want my sole contribution or identification to come from my children, the fact remains that I love them more than any other person in this entire world and that they matter the most. I am also stubborn. And while this isn’t always the most productive trait in say, an argument where I may actually be in the wrong and just refuse to accept it, I think it might be what gets me to the finish line. It’s why I spend hours training every week, because I said I was going to and now I will.
I’m also open to change. Because I have to be in order to survive. It’s not easy to change or to accept change, but I believe that we keep moving or we die. Relationships change, children change, friendships change, everything changes and we have to accept that, or else we’ll end up lost and probably bitter about how things aren’t the same anymore.
And slowly but surely, I am allowing myself to change. It’s hard to let go (harder than I anticipated) of ideas I’ve held true for a long time. I realize that a notion I hold isn’t valid, and so I tell myself to release it. And then I try to, but it sticks around and I double back and wonder if maybe it’s hard to let go because this idea is actually the truth and then I remind myself that it’s not but still, for some reason, I hold this idea in my teeth, growling and snarling at anyone who tries to pull it out.
You know how technology changes so quickly? What we don’t see, from our seat as consumers, is all the work and false starts and years that are spent developing, say, the touch screen. To us, it just suddenly appeared. Sure there may have been rumours, but we weren’t there for the troubleshooting and the coffee spilt and the swear words yelled and probably, at some point, there was someone who was ready to give up because they just couldn’t make the damn thing work. I guess I’m kind of like that.
Not many people see my insecurities, and so maybe to them it will just seem one day like something has changed, but they don’t know what. Maybe I’ll just seem a little more settled. Maybe they won’t be able to put their finger on it, but ultimately, I seem happy and that’s what matters the most. But what they won’t know, what they won’t have seen is all of these moments and days and weeks and months and years that I’ve spent analyzing and troubleshooting and tea spilt and swear words yelled and tears soaked up my sheets and pillows and Steve’s shoulder.
Because slowly, I’m learning to praise what I do and to accept who I am (after acceptance comes love, I think). I am more aware now of my progress over the past year, three years, ten years. I can see a steady course up, I can see that my route is on a slight incline. And though it can be very tiring constantly walking up a hill, at least it’s progress.