“If I can do it, you can do it, and we all can do it!”
I’ve adapted this quote from the end of Rocky IV, when Rocky defeats the gigantic Soviet boxer in a David-and-Goliath story and turns a hostile crowd into a benevolent one. I’m not trying to bring two nations together or end a Cold War but I have found peace with myself and I was able to do it through becoming more active, one step at a time.
It was this time last year that I made a big change. We were on the beach on Maui, I was overweight, didn’t have a lot of energy and had a difficult time keeping up in a game of beach volleyball with my incredibly fit husband and super-athletic then-six-year-old son. (He is the Grade 2 cross-country champ in Toronto this year!) I didn’t feel good, I was embarrassed and I was fed up of always watching from the sidelines. (Before my son was born, I went to the gym a few times a week, played softball regularly and even entered the odd charity run with friends.)
Angry with my body for not being able to get pregnant for a second time, then getting pregnant and miscarrying multiple times, I knew I had to find a way to give myself some love. So I did something really scary. I joined my neighbourhood outdoor women’s ball-hockey league. I’ve played on field hockey teams but never ball hockey or ice hockey. I’d watched the women play and noted how skilled many of them were and how much running was required for each shift. I was terrified. On game day I hoped for rain. No luck. It was a beautiful spring evening, dry with a warm breeze. On my first shift I had little idea what I was doing but I came back to the bench a minute later, panting, with a huge smile on my face. After the first night, and the second, and the rest in the 12-week season, I would finish each game aware of all the muscles waking up in my body and at home, ice my aches with the sweetest feeling of satisfaction.
To limit embarrassing myself on the rink, my teammates (competitive but helpful) nudged me to run a kilometre at least once a week. Over the next eight months, that kilometre turned into two, then five, then 10, 16, and now I’ve just run my first half-marathon. It’s not that I love running but I do love playing on a team and the cardio improvement makes me a better competitor. I discovered that when I run my mind is extremely clear. With each step, the weight of my worries and deadlines seems to melt away. And I sometimes joke that, like Forrest Gump, I could run for days just to avoid housework and chores.
About halfway through the hockey season, I felt confident enough to okay the requests my son and husband had made to come cheer me on. My son thinks it’s cool that his mom plays on the same rink that he does and cheers loudly from the sidelines. He often offers me helpful stickhandling tips and after dinner loves to lure me outside with an enticing “Mom, grab your stick. I’d like to show you a few things…”
In CF we’ve run stories like this before and they have helped to inspire me and many of our readers too. (Thanks for letting us know!) In our September 2011 issue, Sharon DeVellis shared her story of facing her fears and joining a speed-skating class (a must-read!) and then in April 2011, Heather Greenwood Davis found her kick in the pants virtually by using the power of Twitter to motivate herself to run in a half-marathon relay (you can find her story here).
Moms and Dads, this change starts with us. When we make time for physical activity, we are investing in our well-being and sending a message to our children that taking care of our bodies is an important part of being healthy. If I can do it, you can do it—we all can do it.
So do it, and let me know how it goes.
Ready to commit to fitness? Here’s a little reading to get you started:
• How one mom lost 80 pounds during her mat leave
• 3 ways to trick yourself into shape this spring
• Tommy Europe’s quick and easy workout routine for moms