As I was leaving the gym this morning at 6:30, after running 3.5 miles and doing a weight routine, I first thought "I wish I could convince myself to do something really crazy hard (to me anyway), like run a marathon or go vegan for a month, just because."
Then I thought, "Most of the people I know think I am already doing crazy stuff for getting up at 5 AM to go to the gym."
Nowadays, I don't think I am crazy for doing such stuff, because one of my cousins has decided to train for an ultramarathon (for more about his running and training, check out his blog), and his brother was almost a Navy Seal and loves Crossfit and working out until he thinks he is going to die, as does their sister's husband (who was also in the Marines and served more than once in Afghanistan). But if last January, when I was first trying to get more exercise and had just started getting up at the early hour of 5:45, you had told me that I would get up at 5 to go to the gym 3 or 4 days a week, and that it wouldn't feel like enough, I would have thought you were crazy.
I have never really thought of myself as athletic, although one of my favorite activities is hiking, and I love playing volleyball, racquetball and tai chi. I always thought of myself as sort of lazy, physically, not able to really push myself. I am not sure where this came from, except that I guess I bought into the idea at some point that I was more of a bookish nerd than an athlete. I didn't fit in with the athletic kids at school, and I wasn't very good at team sports (partly a problem with being told what to do and getting blamed when the team does poorly, partly I am just a really bad loser - although I am getting better at that). It isn't that I didn't have any role models - my dad played lots of sports while he was growing up and he was always there to play frisbee or go swimming or bike riding or hiking with me, and my mom's dad was a champion football player and track athlete in college, who was playing golf until about a month before he died. He and my grandmother also both hiked the Grand Canyon - after they retired. And even my mom, who I don't think of as liking to exercise that much, was on all the early hikes and bike trips, and spends hours gardening.
Now, as I work on being more mindful and treating myself and others with loving-kindness, I am finally shedding that damaging self-judgment and becoming more fully who I am meant to be. A defiant athlete (who happens to like reading books, a lot of books). It feels amazing.