Sometimes I have to shake my head at the things I put my body through.
Growing up it was all ballet and figure skating.
My feet don’t just tell the story, they show it.
In high school it was tennis. All that quick starting and stopping continue to mash up my poor toes.
Then of course there was the time I broke my finger skating and the time I gave myself a black eye with my tennis racket -- the week of high school graduation. The small scar is still near my left eyebrow.
Freshman year of undergrad, there was tennis conditioning, practice and the regular season. There was also weekly overnighters while working at the newspaper and coaching skating and interning with the local minor league hockey team and singing in the church choir and working part time.
Sophomore year, a hurricane hit the area and my college was evacuated. My family lived about 20 miles away, so I went home and slept through a tree crashing onto our neighbors house and most of the hurricane.
My sister asked, “Don’t you ever do anything?”
My response: “That’s the problem, I do too much and never sleep.”
While traveling abroad, I have spent days not sleeping in an actual bed, and constantly walking, lugging my rucksack and sustaining myself with crackers and Pepsi and whatever I could say in the local language.
Busy times like the last few weeks mean early mornings, late nights, hardly sleeping, always on the go, skipping means and living on coffee.
On Sunday, I cranked out five miles with Alicia and Eileen after only running two or three times this year.
Can’t say my body was jumping for joy, but it acquiesced when I decided that I was going to power through those miles. Now a few days later, my legs are aching in quiet protest.
Maybe it’s a mind over matter thing, maybe it’s sheer force of will, but in those moments when it feels like my body has no more to give, it digs a little deeper and gives me that victory.
I may not be skinny or especially strong for lifting heavy things (ask M about the times we need to move mattresses or heavy furniture, I am not especially useful at these things). I may not have perfect skin or well manicured nails. I may sometimes feel very negative about my pant size or that all of a sudden my coat is too snug.
But, this body is strong. It is resilient and reliable. It often aches and tells me that it can’t go on, but then it does. It has allowed me to run long distances, jump and spin on ice, hike mountain trails, kayak into strong currents and manhandle Grover. This body may not be perfect, but it is most certainly deserving of self respect and self love.
I can’t say that my diet is especially mindful or healthy, but it’s something I’ve decided I want to work on. Knowing that I can pound out five miles completely on the fly is comforting for harsh winters, busy weeks and times when you just can’t in the training, but I think an act of self love will be to aim to be more gentle with myself.
That means more regular runs, more short workouts before work, more outdoor activity in smaller doses, building to the longer, harder workouts. It means many, many squats this summer to be ready for the skating season to start again in the fall.
I know that I can push my body to accomplish what my brain wants it to do, but at some point, my body will revolt.
My gift to my body, and myself, going forward is to maybe not push so hard so often, but to know that when I need it, my body is up to the challenge. So why not give it the things it needs to make that a little easier.
More water, less Cherry Coke. More early bedtimes, less wine after work. More regular workouts, less demanding miles of my body out of the blue. More breakfast, less sour cream and onion Pringles for lunch.
I don’t image I’ll turn into a super healthy eater all the time, but after the years of being tough on my body and leaving my 20s behind last fall, it’s probably time to reward my body for all those moments when it didn’t fail me. Especially if I expect it not to fail me in the coming decades. I’m tough on my car, too, but unlike my car, I can’t replace my body when something breaks.