I was on the way to the pool tonight, and it occurred to me that I was nervous. For some reason, I seem to always get nervous before a swim. Light butterflies in the stomach, and a desire to pee. Sorry – TMI!
I’m not scared of the water. I grew up swimming in a lake, and now I do laps at a pool where I can stand and touch the bottom at all times. It’s not about the water.
When I gave it some thought, I finally realized why I’m nervous. It’s because I’m afraid that when I’m in the pool, I’ll somehow break the swimming rules or otherwise embarrass myself, maybe by being way slower than the person sharing my lane or by inadvertently swimming the wrong way. I’m afraid that someone will point at me and say, “You’re not a swimmer. Get outta here!”
I’ve been swimming quite regularly since April and I have yet to commit any swimming “sins” – to my knowledge, anyway. But irrational fear I have of seeming incompetent and unfit brings made me contemplate my self-image.
I’ve lost over 30lbs in the past year and a half. I’ve dropped clothing sizes and have improved my health significantly. I can do piles of pushups, walking lunges carrying an Olympic bar, a couple of chin-ups at a time, and unassisted dips. This year I did a sprint distance triathlon and I will run a half marathon. So why don’t I consider myself fit yet? Why do I still see myself as bigger and heavier than I am?
Case in point: I met a couple of friends from school last week for Starbucks and a chat. When they asked how much more weight I wanted to lose, I told them 30lbs. Um, no. My target is now less than 20lbs away. When I report my weight losses to my husband, I usually have to correct myself, because I start out saying “one-sixty,” when I’m now, in fact, in the 140’s.
My trainer and I were discussing my blog one day, and she told me that she wasn’t crazy about the name. She said something like this: “You’re not mostly fit. You ARE fit.” I take that as high praise, since she is an amazing athlete. But I don’t really think of myself that way – yet.
In my opinion, it’s not a bad thing that I want to get fitter. In fact, from a health perspective, I’m sure it’s a good thing. However, I wonder if I will ever think of myself as fit. What will be that magic threshold where I say, “Yeah! I am FIT! I rock!”?
There are so many amazing athletes out there that have been training for years and have natural/biological abilities that I don’t have. There’s NO WAY for me to, say, compete at the Olympics for swimming or marathon. It’s just not there for me. And I’m okay with that, but that still brings me to the question: “When will I feel like I’m fit?”
Perhaps if I weren’t surrounded by people who are fitter than I am, who do incredible things like white water kayaking; wall- and rock-climbing; 10k’s, half marathons, and marathons at good speeds; and Ironman and shorter distance triathlons – perhaps then I wouldn’t feel like I was “underfit” (yeah, not a word – I know). However, it is the fact that I am surrounded by all of these fit friends that inspired me to hop on the fitness bandwagon and work to lose the weight once and for all, so I’m not giving them up. Not a chance.
I guess for now I’m comfortable feeling “mostly” fit. I’m still striving to become significantly fitter and leaner, and sometimes it’s a struggle to stay committed to regular, strenuous exercise and healthful eating. I have to consider, though, that perfection is an illusion. No one has perfect workouts and eating days all of the time. Once I can make that shift in my thinking, perhaps I’ll be convinced that I’m fit. Until then, I’m “mostly” fit, but proud of how far I’ve come.
Do you consider yourself fit? What was/is your magic threshold for considering yourself fit?