Thursday, June 18, 2009

My girl athlete manifesto

Yes, I'm a girl.
Yes, I'm an athlete.
Yes, I'll kick your butt.

This little diddy hangs on my refrigerator on a magnet; I used to have a t-shirt with this slogan way back when I really thought of myself as an athlete. I'm bringing it back. The athlete thing, I mean.

I type this post tonight with very sore muscles in my arms, shoulders, and back. My knees are throbbing a bit, too. But I feel so great.

Big Daddy and I have started going to the gym to lift weights together two or three times a week. (This is why my blogging has been unsteady -- time is limited, with the longer work days, squeezing in gym time, and the earlier bedtimes.) He is a great trainer. And talk about personal! Who knows my body better than my husband? And who knows the parts of my body that I'm insecure about better than the one person I whine to most? I think he knows my parts better than I know my parts. So he has worked out a training circuit for me that not only works my whole body, but it really targets the places that I most want to tone -- and I can do it in three one-hour sessions per week.

We work out together for an hour or so each time (the babysitting at the YMCA is only free for an hour -- you've gotta take what you can get, right?) but it's an hour that's just for us. An hour where we're connecting and spending time as a couple, giggling at private jokes, pushing each other to reach further, cheering one another on. And let me tell you, I have rediscovered that watching my husband bench press 200 pounds is really pretty hot!

The most significant thing about this, though, is that I've reclaimed my status as athlete. For a long time I've felt as if I gave that distinction up back in 1995 when I walked away from playing organized basketball. I wanted to leave that part of my life behind for good. I didn't want to be the tall girl who played basketball anymore -- so cliche. Sure, I've worked out on and off since then, but I haven't really been thinking of myself as an athlete. Not for a long, long time.

Well, today I'm taking it back. I'm going to call myself an athlete, and I'm going to be an athlete -- on my terms. No more worrying about someone yelling at me, no more trying to live up to other people's exaggerated expectations. No more allowing some tiny man to belittle me for not being fast enough, strong enough, or mean enough. And no more beating myself up. I'm doing this for me, because I love this body -- do you know the things this body has done and can do?! -- and I want to make sure it works for a long, long time.

In doing this for me, in jogging or riding my bike or swimming every day, in lifting weights -- just being purposefully active -- I have rediscovered how powerful and beautiful my body is. I have rediscovered what it feels like to be healthy. I have rediscovered my own physical, mental, and emotional strength. i have rediscovered energy and enthusiasm. I have rediscovered that I can speak up, sweat it out, push back. I am proud of myself. I love these sore muscles. I love this potential. And a sweat-soaked t-shirt really feels good.

So, yes, I'm a girl. Yes, I'm an athlete. And yes, I'll kick your butt.

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