Crazy Dance

For the past year, once every few months, I've had the opportunity to join my friend, Kris, on a trek up to her family's house in the woods. Others have come along on one or two of the trips but we get along fine with just the two of us.

It's a haven - a place where I can do almost anything I want to and that usually includes a whole lot of reading, talking, eating, and sleeping. This time, it also included some running, cardio, and canoeing.

The canoe ride was lovely. We saw two great blue herons up close, plenty of fish, some turtles, and a really excited kingfisher. We even brought our lunch and ate it on the water.

After our outing, I was waiting by the canoe while Kris went to get her car. Suddenly, I felt a sting on my back. I tousled my shirt and a horsefly half the size of my pinkie began flying around me. It landed and stung again.

The horsefly and I proceeded to dance. I picked up a paddle, flailed my arms, grunted and shrieked, and did everything else I could think of to get that blood-loving insect away from me. During this whole amusing scene, I didn't even notice that I must have looked like a crazy person to all the people waiting to put their boats in the water. And, even when I did notice, I didn't care.

Despite the fact that my "dance" must have made me look insane to those watching, it made me realize that I want to live my life not caring what people on the outside of my life care about my actions and choices - as long as I am making the best choices I can.

I love the Buchs' house in the woods. I always learn something while I'm there.


I've heard a lot of different rules of thumb about how long it takes to form a habit - estimates vary from as few as 18 to as many as 254 days, with the average being about 66 days. Apparently, there is a link between practice and progress (go figure). It seems that to actually form a new habit, though, you have to be ready to make a two-month commitment, at least.

As I was contemplating this information after my walk/jog this morning, I began to think of it differently. It may take two months to make a habit but, for me, it takes about one day to break it...maybe even one second/one decision that cascades into another decision and another. I am a champion at demotivating myself and, if I convince myself not to do something one day, it becomes that much easier to shrug it off the next.

So far, I have coaxed myself out of bed sixteen days in a row to work out - not including Sundays, which I've set aside for rest and recovery. Most days it hasn't been much of a struggle. In fact, I'm finding that morning exercise fits my motivation level and I enjoy the energy boost I feel from being active first thing. And, if I work out shortly after rolling out of bed, I don't have the whole day to talk myself out of doing it when I get home. An added benefit has been avoiding being outdoors in the heat of the day, which has been considerable for the past month and a half.

But, I have done this before. I haven't been a yo-yo dieter, with my weight bouncing up and down regularly, but I have been at this point before. I've gotten excited about exercise and healthy eating and even stuck with it for eight months or so two times in the past. Each time, some circumstance has given me a convenient reason to stop and I've climbed back up to the weight and down to the level of un-fitness I was before - a fact that can be incredibly discouraging to think about.

What I've realized, though, is that letting the baggage of the past weigh me down isn't going to help. I don't know how long it will take before I get to the point that I've truly formed a habit and it's harder NOT to exercise - maybe never. But, I'm committed to taking it one day at a time and not letting one bad day or one bad week or one bad decision derail my efforts permanently.

And I'm sure I can count on a little help from my friends if I do start slipping up.

It's My Body

It started in May. I had one last concert with my church choir and I needed to find a white shirt to wear. I don't like white shirts. I don't like clothes shopping. And I don't like buying clothes for specific events - it seems silly.

Anyway, I went to Target the day before the concert and found a top that fit. It wasn't ugly but it was sleeveless. I don't talk about it often (because I never want to be one of those girls who's constantly complaining about her body) but I've hated showing my upper arms for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, wearing swimsuits was a trial because I knew everyone could see my flabby upper arms and upper thighs and the stretchmarks that felt like a 10 foot high neon sign screaming "FAT." (If you've ever wondered, it's terrible for a kid to grow up worrying about such things.)

I bought the top, knowing that I'd only have to wear it for a few hours and that I didn't want to spend anymore time than I already had searching for a piece of clothing I'd be unlikely to wear again.

On the day of the concert, I reluctantly donned the top and packed a t-shirt so that I could change immediately after we finished singing. As I was driving, a funny thing happened. I don't know where the thought came from but, suddenly, I heard myself saying (OUT LOUD!), "They're my fat arms!" And, just like that, a weight dropped from my shoulders.

They are MY arms and why should anyone else's negative thoughts about my arms impact how I feel about them? My arms, however large or small, let me do a lot of amazing and important things that help others and bring joy into the world. They're my arms.

Then, a month later, I went to Wild Goose. (You might be asking yourself, "What does that have to do with anything?" Well, I'm going to tell you.) I went to Wild Goose... in North Carolina... in June... and it was HOT. I had dragged along a couple pairs of ill-fitting bermuda shorts but the heat and their largeness made wearing them unbearable so I went to Walmart and got some shorter shorts - shorts that might slip up a let people glimpse my flabby upper thighs. And I wore them without a moment's hesitation.

And, the best part of all...

...No one noticed or cared! Then I realized, they're MY legs!

There were explicitly body-positive messages at Wild Goose but it was the overall feeling of acceptance of people as they are that reinforced the things I'd already been thinking and feeling about MY body.

It wasn't long after Wild Goose that I started getting up in the morning to exercise. I've taken ownership of my body and now I have a different motivation to take care of it than I have in the past. So, now, here I am - loving my body for the amazing things that it can do instead of hating it for how it doesn't conform to artificial standards of "normal" or "beautiful." Why, just this morning I did the advanced level of my yoga workout with no problem. Yesterday, I walked/jogged 3 miles. And, a few days ago, I got through an intense Pilates workout without having to stop at all.

It's my body and I want it to last for a good long while even if I never get rid of the flabby bits that used to embarrass me.

My New Crush

It's not what you think, reader. This is not to be a gushy post about the new man in my life.

Over the past few weeks, I've developed a new crush. It's not on any man or woman or even a fictional character or inanimate object. My new crush is...


That's right, I said it. I'm crushing on exercise.

You remember what it's like during those first few weeks or months of a budding attraction...

It's like stepping into a whole new world. It's invigorating and intense. And just like every other time, this time feels different - fresh and bright.

My schedule doesn't matter to me, what matters is seeing my new object of infatuation. If that means getting up at 6 a.m. and going to bed before 10 p.m., I'll do it with no argument.

There is no limit to how foolish I'm willing to look in pursuit of this new beau, either. I'm even willing to sweat and that's asking a lot.

I want to talk about exercise all the time. Most of the time, I hold my tongue but I honestly can't understand why the rest of the world isn't as fascinated as I am.

There have already been some ups and downs and a little pain and I've wondered several times whether this growing attachment would blossom into long-term relationship.

Does exercise like me as much as I like it?

(So far, I think so. :)