Friday, August 1, 2014

Regaining the mind of an athlete

     Growing up I was a classic middle of the road kind of kid in pretty much everything.  In school I did well, but not amazing.  In sports I was never the best,  but not (usually) the worst either.  I lacked the dedication of a perfectionist and preferred to "just have fun" rather than really pushing myself.  Some of that is great, though I wish I had pushed myself just a bit more.  I loved to play soccer, baseball,  softball and swimming as well as camping, canoeing, and various other outdoor activities.  I just enjoyed being active and hanging out with friends.  I had always been strong, even as a toddler, it just came naturally to me. (Look at my children if you don't know what I'm talking about - they get their build from me!  Grace and coordination was a different thing (which probably proves why my stint in ballet only lasted 6 months) but I loved it all anyway.  Never too competitive as a child, I just loved staying active. 
      As I got older this trend continued though I eventually had to limit my sports down to swimming since it was all year and five times a week (though I usually only actually went 2-3 times.)   I remember being in middle school when I first started really being aware of my bigger body type and being a little self-concious of it, but at the end of the day I was still stronger than most of the boys around me and stayed pretty busy, so it didn't really bother me (I was more concerned with raging acne anyway.)  I just considered myself athletic, and I was okay with that.
       A strange thing comes with age however and your body begins to change.  Along with this, responsibilities change as well.  I first noticed the beginning of a big change when I was in college, taking 12 - 18 credits and working three part time jobs (one of which was a pizza job with free food) staying active and eating right was a lot harder than it had been.  The pounds slowly piled on and the muscle began to slip off.  After college I spent a year over seas and made a strong effort to get back to that healthy spot, and for the most part I succeeded.  It felt great.  When I got back to the U.S. I moved to Bend  and started working as a nanny while sharing a duplex with my wonderful roommate Alycia for two years, and then moved to a townhouse with yet another awesome roommate, Beth. Over these hree years I continued to have a very active lifestyle rock climbing, playing lots of ultimate frisbee, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing among other activies.  Then in 2009 my life changed once again and I was blessed to marry my best friend and move back to the valley.  Like many women that get married, my body suffered while the rest of my world thrived.  The price of working full time, plus keeping a home, and sharing my time and energy had just begun to show...and then came baby number one, and after a couple of years, baby number two with three miscarriages in between, and one since, it all took a huge toll on my body.  Suddenly I found myself looking around wondering what happened and how I had gained 40 pounds in just 5 short years.  To say that I had stopped trying would be in accurate, I just simply couldn't keep a consistent enough routine to lose the baby weight (and more) that I had gained.   After working out and burning out time and time again I began to feel pretty depressed about it, and although I still haven't lost that much of it (though I'm beginning to) I am choosing not to give up and to keep working to be the healthy person I know I can be.  I'm was still active, but until this last year I really felt like the athlete part in me had slowly slipped away.  What a sad feeling, to lose the identity you had always had of yourself.  But now I have a new identity, as a mother, a wife, who still did many adventurous things and that was okay, but I still wanted that athlete back.    I decided to give myself the goal of a triathalon relay.  I would love to do a whole triathalon, but with my bad knees it seemed like a bad idea.  As I began to train however, something changed in me.  I have continued to swim laps off and on for years, but somehow having this goal changed something in my mind and helped me get up and go to the pool, girls in tow and all (as my sister faithfully watched them for me as I swam laps, what an encourager she has been to me!)   I noticed this slow shift in my thinking affect not just my body but my attitude over all. 
     Last weekend I spent a wonderful, encouraging day competing in my first (of many I hope) triathalons.  Along with two dear friends who helped me out and amazingly filled in with just a weeks notice as my other team mates had to drop out for various reasons.  Wow, to just get up and one week later participate in this is amazing!   Thank you Dawna and Kim!  I really have to give special props to Kim, who only recently even started running and then agreed to take this on, she really did an amazing job - bronchitis and all! (Somehow both Dawna and Kim happend to have brochitis and competed anyway!)   I had challenged myself to swim the 9/10 of a mile in 40 minutes and I did it in 36.25.  Pretty happy about that.
    Our team took second place in our division, and though it turns out there were only two teams, I still think we did awesome.  Most of the teams were composed of runners with friends recruited to swim and ride, but we did awesome anyway.  What a lot of pressure for Kim to be running with so many seasoned runners when she herself had just begun, but she handled it like a pro.  So proud of our whole team.
     All this to say that I want to challenge myself to continue in this renewed mindset I have found.  I can't wait to take on even more challenges and not only get healthier for myself, but be an example for these beautiful young ladies I am training up.   It doesn't come easily for me to share all of this, it's actually rather embaressing for me, but I realize that whether in the area of weight, or self esteem many of us struggle with these same things and it's nice to know you're not alone.  If you've ever wanted to do a triathalon but don't know where to start a triathalon relay is a great place to begin, and the Rolf Prima Tri in Cottage Grove is an excellent one.  I'm hoping to return next year and bring a few more teams with me.  The more people we have training the more encouraging it can be.

No comments: