Today, as I plopped down my running shoes caked with mud next to equally muddy pink and blue pairs of running shoes, it made me think about how much had changed over the past seven months. This time last year my “running shoes” were squeaky clean because they were really my “running to the grocery store” shoes. I felt bad about myself for never loosing the weight after my second child. I felt tired and grumpy by the time the kids came home in the afternoon as the exhaustion from poor sleep and a crummy diet were catching up with me.
I had struggled to find a workout routine, and there was always a reason it didn’t stick. I felt guilty about dropping my kids into a gym child care that they hated (and that they always left with a new virus after attending). My husband would travel during the week and I’d be unable to go early in the morning or the evening without hiring a sitter. The gym classes would conflict with either preschool drop off, the pick up time, or the one that aligned perfectly in the middle was a geriatric class. (Okay, sometimes it was a prenatal class. But once you are no longer pregnant, that one looses its appeal pretty fast.)
But 7 months ago I decided to make being a “healthier me” a priority. The idea of going to a class called “boot camp” was intimidating to me. I’m not an athlete – even when I was a teenager I struggled to run a mile or keep up in a class. But each year I aged, I could see the toll that being inactive was taking of me. The phrase “use it or loose it” seemed especially poignant.
The first time I attend Susan’s class was hard . My body hurt. I was winded and exhausted with in minutes. I was the slowest in the pack. I had to skip exercises because I was couldn’t go on and had to ask for modifications to try and push through. It was a an hour that could have left me feeling deflated and humiliated. But with Susan’s encouragement, humor and her warmth, she made me feel like I was achieving an amazing accomplishment by showing up and giving it my all. Instead of leaving feeling like yet again I had failed at an athletic endeavor, I felt proud. I felt tough. I felt like I had accomplished something. And with Susan’s uncanny ability to know when to push me and when to tell me to take it at my own pace, I was hooked.
I now feel stronger and healthier. But the other benefits are ones I never expected. I have been welcomed into a group of women who are positive, encouraging, witty and amazingly supportive. They are like a wonderful little work-out family. (Not to mention they keep me up to date on the celebrity gossip. I mean let’s be real about how important THAT is!) My children come with me to the work out, and now have a new set of “bootcamp friends,” as they call them. They have gotten used to hustling out the door in the morning for an hour outside at the park running and climbing with new pals or trading snacks on a blanket while coloring and sharing stickers. I love that they see mom trying to be healthy, and that they see me laughing and enjoying it.
I knew with out a doubt that being able to bring my children with me too bootcamp was a positive change for all of us when a few weeks after starting bootcamp my daughter invited me to the playroom for a pretend tea party. We had our pretend tea and pretend food and then she said she said we would be wrapping up with push up part of the party. I spit out my imaginary tea I laughed so hard. (She was dead serious and said it was time to put down my tea cup and let’s get started. Hey! Why is this the only part of the party that isn’t pretend?) But it clicked with me at that moment that she was watching everything I do at boot camp. And if she was going to pretend to be a grown up at a grown up party, then in her head that meant being a “healthy” grown up.
So I may still be one of the slowest when we run, and I’ll never be able to make my push-ups pretty. I will still groan through the whole thing and often complain more than I should (I really hate sliders and I just can’t help saying that EVERY TIME). But life feels healthier and more balanced since making a little pain from Susan part of my weekly routine. And those three sets of muddy running shoes lined up in the garage remind me daily of the best two reasons I could ever have to sign right back up for bootcamp tomorrow. Sliders and all.