Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Kind of Girl I Am

"I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say, 'no.'"
"I don't really know what kind of girl I am."
-- From the movie Juno

Proactive people show you what they love, what they want, what they purpose, and what they stand for. These people are very different from those who are known by what they hate, what they don't like, what they stand against, and what they will not do. 
From Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

I am the kind of girl who likes going to the gym. 

This is as much a shock to me as it is to you. 

In the end of January this year, I signed up for my first ever gym membership. I haven't mentioned it until know because I wasn't ready to go on record. I wanted no accountability. I didn't even want you to be looking for me there (I looked really goofy). But now six months in, it looks as if gym attendance is actually going to stick.

I have long been known -- at least to myself -- as someone who hates to exercise. (For proof read my blog from August 2010 "I Don't Want to Be a Blessing Hog.") There was a brief period in the early 2000s when I enjoyed yoga. But since 2004 I've done it twice. And one time I almost fainted. 

I have never liked to sweat. I don't like pain. I'm clumsy. And I don't like to think about my thighs. And so, over the last 8 years I exercised less and less until I didn't even feel guilty about it anymore. 

Other people would tell me how much they loved working out for it's own sake, and that it made them feel great regardless of whether or not it changed the way they looked. They went on Saturday afternoons! Saturdays! When they could have been reading a book on a lounge chair or napping! They said it was actually addicting. But like someone who thinks they can try heroin but won't get addicted, I didn't believe them. 

In December, Jeff and I spent 24 hours in Las Vegas with a very fit couple who were decades older than us.They went out dancing until 4 a.m. while we went back to our hotel at midnight and fell asleep. As they laughed at us the next day at breakfast, I caught a vision of what life might be like as I get older with exercise... or without. I thought about it for one month, and then I handed my credit card to the guy in the black polo shirt at L.A. Fitness.

And now I'm hooked. I even go on Saturday afternoons. And darn it, but those exercise people were right. I feel better. I don't need a nap as often. And my husband has caught me looking at my bicep in the mirror several times (you wouldn't be impressed if you saw it, but it's very exciting to me). I've figured out some of those intimidating looking weight machines and I've fallen in love with Zumba! Clumsy, size-10-footed Amanda is sweating and leaping and doing salsa and yelling out "ay-yi-yay" along with women who are much hipper and buffer than me, and other women who are much older than me. (One day I told my husband that someone behind me said I was a good dancer. "How old was she?" he asked. "Uh, about 60." "Yeah," my husband said.)

In the last 10 years I have come to agree with (though I had not put words to) the concept from Boundaries, above. I generally define myself by the things I like and stand for: writing, cooking, quilting, singing, serving Jesus, teaching, mothering, flea-marketing, pier jumping. But I defined myself in one negative way: I stood (or rather sat) against exercise. 

So the fact that I now like working out makes me wonder what kind of girl I actually am. I feel I might suddenly get a tattoo, or start speaking in tongues, or decide to home school, or like eel-skin rolls at the sushi bar, or watch "The Bachelor." All previously nearly unthinkable ideas.

I'm turning 35 next month, and I tend to do something momentous at round number birthdays and major milestones. Like, when my first child started kindergarten, I cut eight inches of my hair. And when I turned 30, I had a nervous breakdown. Both of those worked out great in the end. (My hair is still growing out; the nervous breakdown resulted in this blog and lots of personal growth.)

So what shall I  add to my like list this summer? For what shall I now be known? Hubby says the tattoo is a no-no. I'm considering training for a mud run. Hubby thinks that is hilarious. I'll think about it, and let you know.