Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jamie's Thoughts: The Girl with the Blue Plastic Mitt


Have you ever tried to remember the exact moment you started to define yourself?  That instant when you "knew" you were decidedly one thing and not something else.  It's hard to remember, isn't it? I know I can't remember.  But at some point, I decided I was not an athletic person.  That definition dictated a whole host of choices in my life.  However, my recent experience in joining a boot camp has turned everything I thought I knew about myself upside down.  

I've been promising to post about the boot camp/gym I joined earlier this year because it's been such a transformative experience for me.  I went from binge watching Netflix on my couch to cope with work stress, to waking up before the sun rises to do kettlebell swings and squats.  But it got me thinking:  What happened?  What changed?  And why can I do this now, but couldn't or wouldn't do it before?

You see, for longer than I can remember, I never thought of myself as an athletic person.  I always performed well in school.  In gym or in group sports--not so much.  


I can remember one experience in particular during my short time playing softball.  You see, we were a lower middle class family, and we didn't have a lot of resources.  That meant that when I played softball, I didn't have the best equipment. Not even a proper mitt.  Instead, I had this terribly ill-fitting blue plastic mitt.  


My lack of appropriate equipment didn't really matter to me that much because I was stuck out in right field.  The ball doesn't often make it to the outfield in third grade softball games.  And to be honest, most of my time in the outfield was spent as an observer. Until one day. 


One day, this huge girl, who to me looked like a fifth grader (gasp!), hit a pop up to right field.  It was my moment to shine.  But shine I didn't.  I panicked, not well-prepared for the circumstance in which I found myself:  a ball coming to my part of the outfield. Instead of attempting to catch the plummeting softball with my blue plastic mitt-clad hand, I attempted to catch it with my bare hand.  The softball collided with my uncovered hand, and I fell down to the ground in right field, crying--while the monstrous fifth-grader rounded the bases and my teammates were shouting at me to throw the ball infield.  I have no recollection of how the ball got to the infield, but monstrous fifth grader had hit a home run, while I paid the price.  My hand was taped with ice for days.  It may seem silly, but that one singular experienced largely shaped how I felt about my athletic ability.  That was the moment confirmed what I thought I already knew:  I was not an athlete.  I decided I wasn't cut out for sports, and therefore, putting any energy into athleticism was not worth my time.  


It's funny how we cling to those old limitations we put on ourselves, isn't it?  Especially when they become outdated.  I believe that experience caused me ignore the importance of taking care of my body, since I believed I had "learned" that I was not an athletic person.  


Fast-forward to the beginning of this year.  After one year of pretty successfully Paleo eating, I found myself weighing more than ever. Not the result you'd expect, huh?  Lots of work stress, too many Paleo treats, and not enough physical activity led me to that result. So, when I saw a boot camp being advertised in my town, I jumped at the chance to get myself back on track.  


The boot camp is held at 5:30 a.m. or 6:30 a.m., which meant I had to start, not only getting up earlier than ever, but also going to bed earlier than I was used to.  I thought I was a night person.  I learned otherwise.   Getting up early and working out first thing has been great for so many reasons.  I notice that the quality of my sleep has improved since I started getting up and going to bed early.  I have more energy during the day.  My mood has also improved throughout the day if I start it out right with a workout.  


I have lost about 15 pounds since the end of January.  And here's the most exciting thing:  I'm in the best shape of my life.  Dare I say it:  I feel pretty athletic!  For maybe the first time ever.  I'm lifting weights.  Doing kettlebell swings.  I'm doing things I never thought I would enjoy and absolutely loving every minute of it.  


When I think about what made the difference for me, I think it's been a few things.  The positive group atmosphere is huge.  I love waking up and hanging out with these super supportive folks.  It's also getting over this idea that I am not an athlete.  Because why the heck not?!?  I can be an athlete.  So softball wasn't my thing. It doesn't mean there aren't other things I can be successful at, right?!


So, I suppose the ultimate moral of this story is to revisit the way you "define" yourself.  You might just be capable of way more than you think.