It's so amazing how complicated is my relationship with my body. I realized just last night, that I've been feeling like my body is defective around exercise and general physical activity. And while this is an intense feeling lately because I'm challenging myself physically, this is not a new experience.
As a kid I remember playing a lot. We played in our neighborhood, running everywhere. But I hated the run and chase types of games. I would get a bit panicked about the being caught part. So I stopped playing them. We played kickball or other games in the street. But I hated to wear shoes in the summer and would always stub my toe on the asphalt. Then I would be timid about approaching the ball.
I played t-ball which was okay, but in softball is the first time I remember getting a heat headache. Soccer was okay, but I was still not very coordinated and certainly wasn't fast. I've never been a runner, in general.
I rode my bike everywhere. How else does anyone get around when they are that young? But I never really enjoyed it. I liked to swim, but I never got formal swimming lessons, so swimming was just playing in the water. Mostly, swimming was about staying cool in the humid summer heat.
I loved to dance. If only we could have had dance in PE all the time. I remember asking my mother if I could take ballet lessons once, but my parents couldn't afford to do it or just not motivated to really seek it out. In Jr. High I played basketball. I hated it...the noise, the pace of it.
The backdrop of all of this was Sister. She was born with much more coordinated motor skills. She was taller and thin and exercise came much easier to her...the bookshelf in our dining room held all her trophies - soccer, basketball, golf. She was all around good at sports. The irony, now, is that she never exercises. She hates sweat.
I tried a conditioning class in college to try to get into shape. During the 3rd week of class, I broke my foot during a basketball game. But when I wasn't injured I was walking all over that campus.
After college, during my first bout of depression, I discovered the joys of exercise as a mood enhancer. Aerobics with older women in the afternoons. This opened me up to look at exercise as something that can be good and doesn't have to be about competition.
But it's still a struggle with me. I sweat a lot. I get overly warm very easily. I get these headaches. I don't like the way my body feels as it's warming up to the activity. And, sadly, in this area it is hard not to compare oneself to the person exercising next to you.
I love going for walks, but the hike this weekend was an example of how hard I can be on myself. I really wanted to go on this hike with my friend, but she and her other guests so easily outpaced me. I have to admit to being a little mad at my friend that she didn't really pay attention to how I was doing, and I'm glad that S was with me or I would have been deserted. I really beat myself up for not being as good as those other people (even though several are fairly hardcore hiking people).
I've been reading a lot about how it is that we need to prevent childhood obesity and encourage children to be more active. I agree in principle to this, but I also think that we need to be cognizant that hiking does not come easily or comfortably to all people. Even when I was young and a more average weight, exercise was not always fun. Now, it is a means to an end, but it is a constant struggle to remember that the end justifies the means.