When the 52 Mondays blog began, almost three years ago now, it was a photo project that I came up with along one of my many runs down a particular road. You might say that this blog was partially borne out of my dedication to fitness, although fitness–in the physical sense–is not a topic I touch on too often here. To me, the funny thing I’ve discovered about fitness and exercise is that talking about it is one of those things I feel like I can only do comfortably with people who do it too. When I talk about fitness and exercise with people who don’t do it, there is often a slantwise look I get and a disparaging kind of vibe that makes me feel almost like a dork for having it as something that is such a big component of my life.
Over the weekend, I had a brief exchange with someone about exercise. I’d just finished a 12-mile run and, in making small talk with this person, heard the “Whoa, I can’t even run one mile” remark. Now, it’s true, I run. Not so quickly any more but I do run a lot. Nearly every day. It’s so much a part of my life that it’s almost like making sure I sleep and eat. I sometimes call it my religion and this isn’t completely hyperbole because for me, it is a spiritual experience. But, I’ve been at this for almost fifteen years now. When I started, I’d only been a non-smoker for a couple years and had never run so much as a mile in any setting other than a high school gym class. I’ve come a long way.
So, when I got the “I can’t even run one mile,” I replied to this person with the old cliché, every mile starts with a single step and then gave the brief synopsis of my foray into becoming a middle-distance runner which started, quite literally, with one rather difficult and awful step. He was thoughtful about it for a minute and then said, “You know, I try to keep active and I’m not sure I believe that being physically active actually adds years to your life…. but, I believe it enhances the quality of your life.”
I agree. Wholeheartedly.
I’m not sure if I’m adding years to my life either, and we can agree or disagree on this no matter what we do or don’t do– though, certainly, things like quitting smoking means I’m not taking them off quite as quickly any more. But, it must be said that whether or not I actually add years to my life, I definitely feel better than I did as someone who was not active; my quality of life is simply better. Being physically active makes me feel connected to my body in a completely different way. It makes me feel empowered and brave. It makes me feel like I am living my life more fully. It makes me more calm in the other parts of my life and brings focus to the things I need to attend to. And, because I practice fitness outside, it also makes me feel more connected to the planet and on my two weekend runs I saw many varieties of birds (including this lovely heron), dragonflies, butterflies, cicadas, turtles, a snake and all kinds of wildflowers. I heard the buzzing sounds of summer and smelled the scents of the growing earth.
I recognize, however, the place that people can be in when they aren’t yet someone who is involved in some sort of regular fitness activity and how that affects how one might think and feel about fitness. The idea of beginning anything new can be very overwhelming and our comfortable habits are, well, comfortable–even if they aren’t what’s best for us. So, today’s blog is not just for all of you who do fitness already, but also for those of you who don’t but who might be thinking about having it as a part of your life. One of the ways to begin anything is just to begin to think about it. What does it feel like to imagine a life that included fitness? What would it feel like to take that first, small step toward truly being more connected to your body? What would that first, small step look like?
TRY THIS WEEK: Imagine the possibilities that fitness could bring to your life.