I have never needed to be the best. I remember taking debate in high school and doing really well. My partner and I won novice state. I enjoyed it. But I hated that others in my class would get overly excited when they found evidence against my case. When during the in class tournament it was epic if someone beat us. I enjoy preparing and even competing. But I don’t enjoy an atmosphere of one-up-manship and grueling competition.
I realize I just used to phrase “grueling competition” to discuss debate, but lets remember I do not have an athletic background. It’s like nerd sports. I’m good with that. …okay.
That said, I do enjoy competing with myself. Among the top 3 confidence boosting experiences of my life was going from not being able to run for an entire minute to running an entire half marathon in one year. I didn’t aspire to run the half when I started, but by gradually doing just a little more everyday than the day before I moved my own mountain. I have done this with my flexibility, speed and strength. I like to surprise myself.
You may know that I just spent a little over a month not being able to workout due to an injury. I took this as an opportunity to regroup with new goals outside of the gym. I feel like I’m on a more positive track spiritually and emotionally. I have broadened my daily practices to include yoga and meditation. I’ve given up almost all television in favor of books and given my driving time to books on tape. I’m feeling great. But as I’ve slowly started to workout again I’ve found my starting place has changed.
This is not surprising. You can miss a workout. You can miss a whole week and not lose your fitness level. But over a month is going to set you back some. Adding to this equation is that it’s not advisable that I push myself right now either. This is an ease in and pay attention sort of situation. This could be devastating. If I hadn’t used my time off to foster other areas of growth it might have been. Instead I just keep reminding myself to start where I am at.
I never got discouraged when I was starting out. Because I didn’t have lofty goals. I figured, the worse off my starting point, the more miraculous the end will be. As long as I focused on being a positive role model for my daughter and just striving to do a smidge more than yesterday, I was rarely discouraged. While I no longer struggle to run a minute, I’m running a much shorter distance everyday than I used to. My mindset has gone from “squeek a little more out” to “take it easy, enjoy yourself.” It’s completely different.
I keep reframing my set back as an opportunity to rebuild. I get to start over. I get to experience (eventually) lifting heavier and heavier again. I get to celebrate lengthening my runs. When I am able to run stairs again I get to dance at the top like the first time. It will be great. Even though I’ve done it before. It gets to be great all over again.
Am I thrilled to have ”moved backward” in my fitness level? No. But I’m excited to celebrate my former successes again.
Start where you are at. Whether you are starting for the first time or again for any reason. Part of honoring yourself and your body with exercise is being okay with where you are at right now and lovingly working to improve. I’ve literally never seen anyone become more fit and maintain it because they wanted to “fix themselves” or by punishing themselves through exercise. This may work short term… but long term fitness is maintained with love.
Instead of competing with myself, I’m just setting out to enjoy myself.
So here I am with new tools and a new starting point. A little more namaste in my bad ass bitch. I’ll take it.