I just had an article published in a little magazine out of Ottawa called Healthy Smile!
(That’s their exclamation mark, not mine. It’s an essential part of the name. You know, just like P!nk).
I wrote the piece on New Years day. I was pondering health and fitness goals for the year, but realized I have none. And that I’m good with that. In fact, right now I love that. It’s a re-hash of this blog post from spring of last year.
The article goes like this.
It’s January 1, 2014. Along with the rest of mankind, I’m pondering fitness and health goals for the year to come.
Against the good advice of most fitness experts, I’m moving away from specific goals this year. Experts say be detailed when it comes to fitness resolutions: I will work out three times per week. I will eat four vegetable servings per day. I will complete a 10 K race.
I understand that detailed approach. But here’s the thing.
Sometimes there is too much detail. Sometimes the list gets too long. Sometimes with all the “I wills” and “I musts” a girl gets exhausted.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop doing so much.
In recent years, I have felt compelled to set goals around my workouts. Complete a certain fitness program. Enter this or that competition. Train for this or that race. Always pushing for more. It’s never enough, it seems, to just move and sweat, to enjoy the feeling of being alive.
But somewhere in the middle of last year I realized something simple yet profound. What I’m already doing is enough. My varied early morning workouts are enough. I needed to stop adding more things to do. I’m good…right here.
It was May 2013. I was deep in a work project that was taking up a huge amount of time. I had signed up for an out of town triathlon in early June. It’s a race my husband and I often go to for a weekend with a group of friends. It’s typically great fun.
But do you know what I did a week after I signed up for the triathlon?
I quit the triathlon.
I had one of those life moments when reality hits. One of those moments when the to-do list and the self-imposed pressure comes crashing in. Do you know those moments? And instead of sleeping, I found myself awake at 4:30 in the morning worrying about all the things I need to do in the next month. I had two big work deadlines the week after the race. I needed to get “real” rides in, but my bike was still hanging from the roof of the garage. I needed to get to the pool more. I needed to practice on open water. I needed to rent a wetsuit. I had two weeks of work travel between then and the race (which meant no bike and no pool). It also meant a lot of time away from my kids.
Nothing earth-shattering; it was just my version of the life-list that everyone has.
Through all this… work, training, life…I also needed to sleep and rest. I needed to not be awake hyperventilating in my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning.
So after a tearful conversation with my husband (which I’m sure he really appreciated at 5:00 a.m.), I quit the triathlon.
Immediately I was flooded with relief. The entry fee already paid didn’t matter. Our portion of the cost of the condo rented for triathlon weekend didn’t matter. What mattered was the balance; the ever-tentative, teetering life balance. There would be other triathlons at better times for me. Actually, it wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t another triathlon. The road, the pool and my bike are always there. The point is to simply use them…and to feel the rush and enjoyment of my body strong and in motion.
So do you know what I did right after the tearful 5:00 a.m. conversation, as my breathing calmed and I physically felt the pressure lift?
I slipped on my running shoes. I stepped outside into my quiet neighbourhood. It was just starting to rain.
And I ran.
Because I could, and because I wanted to.
And it was enough.
P.S. I figure March 10th is as good a day as any to check in on people’s new year’s fitness resolutions. Did you set any? How are they going?
P.P.S. I’m getting a huge kick out of the fact that my name is on the cover of the magazine, right along side the great fitness/clean-eating guru Tosca Reno, who also was a contributor. I bow to the fabulous and fit 54-year old Tosca.