Current Thoughts on Strength

(Kauai, 2005)

I have an ongoing battle with fitness.

On the one hand, I've always been an obsessively healthy eater. I can remember refusing fatty foods while still in a high chair. I've never really been a huge fan of sweets. I was vegetarian for 11 years, then I wasn't, now I'm eating healthier than at any other time in my life prior, and maintain a "mostly vegan" diet.

Fitness? Not so much. I am lazy.

I've always felt like I didn't have as much energy as other people. In high school, I was perpetually envious of the energetic people around me. They too were in the homework-heavy classes, did a sport, and participated in drama club. But whereas I had difficulty even showing up to those things, and tried to do as little as possible when I did show up, they did even more. They did theater outside of school too. They did two sports. Or three sports. They ran for school office. They DID ALL THEIR HOMEWORK.

One of the things I regret most about high school is not being sportier. I had an opportunity to be a volleyball player. I think I could have been a great volleyball player. I passed it up.

Nowadays when I mention my interest in working out, or being fit, I'm inevitably met with snickering, albeit good-natured snickering, because I am naturally thin. Okay. That's fair.

I'm talking about being FIT though. There's a difference. I've never stuck with any particular activity long enough to become strong and fit. I dabble, but I don't commit.

At the moment, I'm in a wonderful space. I do yoga regularly. I do workouts that target certain muscle groups. I have run a bit in the last few months. I hike 4 miles a week, and we're about to double that, in hopes of making it farther up the Na Pali coast than we did 6 and a half years ago. I've been feeling the fittest I've ever felt in my life.

But it's not enough.

I want to be STRONG. I want to actually see muscles. I don't want to be a huge, vein-popping heavyweight champion, which many people oddly assume is my goal upon hearing that I want to "tone up." Because somehow there's no distance between wanting my abs to show and being a female Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Okay, just don't get too fit." Huh? What's with that? What does that even mean? I say I want to be fit and strong, and I'm met with looks of concern and insinuations that I might be taking it too far. Wanting to be strong is taking it too far? I promise you, I am in no danger whatsoever of taking fitness pursuits too far. There is no chance in hell that I will become too muscle-y.

Is it really wrong for me to want to SEE my own results? Is it wrong that I, in my naturally thin state, want to improve upon that? Shocker: I want a 6 pack. Or an 8 pack. I do. Sue me. Should I be ashamed of this?

Now I'm at the point where I can almost nearly start to see the beginnings of a 6 pack. Almost. If I lean back. When the sun is right.

I feel awesome.

And I started Krav Maga classes this week. And it was awesome. And I learned something.

It's not about the muscles. It's about knowing that I can accomplish something physical. Something hard. I want to train for something. I want to be good at something. I want to feel confident in my physical body, in my strength and abilities. And I think I kind of want to be an athlete. (Relatively speaking anyway.) I really love the idea that I could know how to fight. Truly fight. Should I need to.

My plan is to be even more fit, more active, the older I get. Aging isn't scary if I continue to improve myself. I can hike much farther at 31 than I could at 25. I hope my 40 year old self puts my 30 year old self to shame. And so forth.

What could feel stronger than that?