Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Racquetball and a Change of Attitude

Today I had a sort of epiphany.

John and I had an amazing labor day weekend, and so spontaneously decided to extend it by taking a day vacation. Since this was going to cut into my workout, we decided to do something different together.

We went and played racquetball! Let me paint a picture for you of how me "playing" went last time (and any time) I played.

I reluctantly step inside the court, instantly uncomfortable because of the floor-to-ceiling glass that lets any causal bystander observe.

John serves lightly-- "too fast!!!" I screech as I skid out of the way of the ferocious oncoming ball. John goes and retrieves the ball as I stand in the same place. 

Again, he serves, much more slowly this time. I nimbly take a step and reach my racket out to return the shot. 

This continues, John using his left hand, hitting the ball the straightest and softest he's able to, me only moving a step or two, complaining when the ball was hit too hard, or that I'm scared of it hitting me. I can't judge where it's going to be. I don't like the way it ricashays off the walls as it comes to attack me. I feel like everything jiggles if I move quickly or even try to lunge for the ball.

Ten minutes later, we take a break. "I'm sweating. I hate sweating!" I whine. I make a face to show my disgust. I feel like I can't do anything. I feel like I'm slow, uncoordinated, gross, unathletic, and fat.

After a pathetic "game" of this, I take the sidelines so that John can actually play a real game of racquetball with his friends. I wistfully watch them, wishing I could move that nimbly and quickly, sighing, *knowing* that I will never be able to be that athletic and confident.

HA! Yeah right! We just finished up playing two hours of fierce racquetball. And guess what?

I won 2 out of 4 games!

Yeah that's right. I was pretty amazing. Let me show you the newly improved picture of me playing racquetball....

"Is that all you got?" I taunt, "because I totally owned you that last volley!" I smile a perfect combination of wickedness and sweetness, despite the sweat that is soaking my ponytail and streaming down my face. 

I occasionally glance at my heart rate monitor, because after all, I need to get my workout in today, but that's not what this is about---I'm having fun. 

John wins the next volley, but I retrieve the ball anyway and jog back to my position to await his serve. He still serves lightly for me, but is playing with his right hand. We agreed that he would play with his left hand whenever he was ahead...but frankly, that hasn't been very often. My coordination is stellar, if I can get to the ball in time, I nearly always return it. I slam myself into the wall to be able to return a difficult, fast shot, and am rewarded with returning a shot hits the wall so close to the floor and at such an angle that John couldn't hope to return it. The point is mine. I am so into this game.

That game ends, and I push to play another one. and another, and another. Though I'm panting and have long since finished our water, we only stop because John's thigh is hurting (still recovering from the triathlon he did).

I feel quick. I am quick. I am coordinated. I am nimble and flexible. I actually, for the first time since I can remember, feel athletic

I may still be 75 pounds overweight, but I can do, and am doing things that I wasn't comfortable doing when I was 30 pounds lighter than I am now. Inside this body, there is an athlete forming.

But here's where my epiphany comes in: it's not just my body that is changing....I am changing. I am becoming that person I want to be. This is working!  

We were trying to figure out why I wasn't still afraid of the ball like I used to be. I thought it was just because I'm more coordinated now, but then I realized, no, it's because I choose not to be.  I have so much more confidence now, in myself, in who I am, in what I can accomplish.

I have pushed through so many uncomfortable things because I have decided to, that seriously, you think I'm going to be scared of a little ball hitting me and let that keep me from having fun and being competitive? No way! 

My entire attitude has changed about racquetball. It was no longer this sport I begrudgingly played since John wanted to-- I had fun. I burned 1300 calories in 2 hours, but do you know what? Go me...but I don't care! I had FUN!

This is the first example I've seen of how I actually will be able to enjoy being active once I get to my goal weight. It's not always going to be drudgery, I won't always want to avoid sweating above all else. Because when you're fit enough to be active like that, a whole realm of possibilities open up. For me, I found I love racquetball. I hope I also like canoeing and rock climbing, but I'm not sure yet. But I have solid proof now that I'm not just always going to have to drag my big butt to the gym and slave away because it's what needs to be done.

Will I still go to the gym? probably. But will that be the only thing I do? No....because there will be new activities that I love. I will be able to find new hobbies that I always thought looked cool, but *knew* I'd never be doing. And as the added benefit, they will be helping me stay fit.

What are some of the activities you look forward to being able to actually enjoy when you get fit?

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