Staying Strong Even if Progress is Slow
At our first meeting, the trainer asked about my motivations. I told her I wanted to be healthy enough not to be a burden to my kids. She tilted her head at me.
"OK, how's about this? I'd like to be able to do pull-ups like Sarah Connor," I said. "My kids could be generals in the war against a sentient AI, but I need to be able to protect them from those first-gen Terminators."
It started as a classic New Year's resolution, but I've forced myself into doing weightlifting for the last six months. Right before the pandemic, I had signed on with a trainer who held her all-female classes at intimidating CrossFit gyms. There was a healthy sense of camaraderie, and since I had to get up, go somewhere to work out, and was paying for it, there was a good mix of accountability and leaning on my Scrooge-like nature to ensure that I made use of the money spent.
During the pandemic, the trainer went online. There was a novelty, and a helpful routine, signing on to Zoom with others at o-dark-thirty and working out. But then sleeping in was nicer. Sitting on the swing and watching my kids play with a beer in my hand was even nicer. That trainer ended up going to nursing school.
If my body is a temple, I spent the pandemic adding an addition, building it taco by taco, with a mortar mix of beer. But the alcohol worsened my depression and anxiety, and I needed to make changes. First, I decided to start riding bikes, something my husband enjoyed that would be good and outdoorsy during the pandemic. Plus, it was something that we could safely do as a family. For months, I'd huff and puff along and hate life while putting on as much of a poker face as I could in front of the kids.
Slowly biking became a way to get out of the house alone for sanity, even if I still rode with a group. One evening, two or three months into weightlifting, I realized hoisting my husband's heavy mountain bike into the truck bed was easier. Then picking up the bulk-size laundry detergent with one hand became easier. Now I can deadlift roughly the weight of my children. Nice.
Do I still eat terribly? Yes. Do I still drink more than I should? Yes. But it's about slow progress.
Getting back into shape is a strange phrase to begin with; who determines a body's true shape beyond the person who tends the fires of the temple? Yet, I have given myself comfort in the idea that if you've spent months or years getting into a shape you felt uncomfortable in, why wouldn't it take about the same time to get back into a condition where you do feel comfortable and isn't like the shape of a marshmallow?
It'll take me time to get to where I want to go. Progress is slow, and there are always setbacks. Yet, we have power that we must cultivate through preparation, repetition and consistency. Some nights will always call for tacos and beer, especially when the world around us is the setback, but our willingness to not give up and not give in is a matter within our control.
Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.