Remember when I competed in triathlons? Yeah. I barely do too. I am not sure what took away my competitive spirit, but it very well may have been too many races this Spring. I haven’t done a thing competitively since May and I’m not really in need of another race t-shirt or bib. I’ve just been sticking to my normal exercise routine of swimming occasionally, biking and running. I love the spin class at my YMCA and I’ve been trying to lift weights here and there.

Little did I realize I was really not lifting weights, so much as pretending to. How do I know this? Well, my fingers are pretty much the only thing I can use this week that don’t ache. About a month ago, I got a lead (via Twitter no less) that a local gym-owner was interested in hiring a ghost writer to help with a fitness book. With a complete lack of being able to control my priority or responsibility list, I jumped at the opportunity. H and I have been meeting regularly since.

He is exactly what you’d imagine. He’s a former professional bodybuilder, literally built like the Hulk and yet very kind. His gym is for women only and his speciality is making women feel really, really good about their accomplishments by having trainers regularly compliment you on the smallest of improvements. How do I know this? Because I fenagled training as part of my payment and am now on week two of torture.

And sheer torture it is. Three times a week I go to his gym to be bullied into an hour’s worth of weights. I swear to you, I have never been this sore. Not after a marathon. Not after a 1/2 Ironman. Not after hiking through the African bush for a couple days. I’ve woken up in screaming pain in the night this week because I rolled over and some muscle cramped in the process.

But, you know what? I feel pretty darn good. Another part of this training is to keep a food journal this week to show them my normal eating habits. Having to write down every morsel for a stranger to judge has made me really take a closer look at what is going in my body. I’m being much more mindful of my diet and in combination with the new torturous routine, I’m seeing a new me.

To be honest, I’ve always had this athletic chip on my shoulder. My dad, a natural athlete, has never had a problem maintaining his physique. He’s fit and as a result has always looked considerably younger than he is. My brother, also a natural, can look at a new sport from afar, jump in half-assed and be pretty good at it from the get-go. Me? I am more like my mom. I have to work really, really hard at something to make it stick. But I have a fierce determination that my brother doesn’t. He’s the sprinter. I run distance. While he could probably still beat me silly at a 100m sprint, he’d be done. I could keep going for another 5 miles or so.

My point is that I’ve never felt like I could be the athlete. (It is really ridiculous to feel this way, I recognize. I’ve been swimming regularly (minus 5 months in Cameroon sans pool) steadily since I was 4 or so.)  It is fun to surprise yourself, to change habits, to see yourself in a new way. And if this all happens right before you slide into your red dress before the lengthy list of holiday parties? Even better.

Have you ever surprised yourself with a new way of living? What did you do? How did it make you feel?



P.S. There is a considerable lack of photos this week because I’m working on holiday projects. This will change pronto! Tonight — community dinner with gobs of food porn opportunities.