In the day-to-day struggle to change our lifestyles, to lose weight and get fit, I think we often get caught up in the urgency of a “workout” and we forget the beautiful expression of fitness as fun.
When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to get off of the buses and get out to do whatever game was the preferred choice du jour. I remember spending many a day playing soccer baseball, or softball, riding bikes, roller skating, skipping rope and double dutch. It wasn’t about counting calories, burning what we ate, or feeling guilty about a lazy day. It was about playing and feeling free.
As I run, these days, I often experience that sense of freedom. I am not concentrating on my pace or how long it’s taking me to do the mile. Instead, that beautiful moment happens when I’m listening to a good song, I’ve hit my stride, and I just feel the ground swiftly passing under my feet. I get a little smile on my face and I just…..GO!
I went skating a few weeks back, for the first time in around nine years, on the “Rink of Dreams” with a big group of friends and their children. I was a bit nervous as I laced up my skates. I worried about looking like an idiot, about falling, about not being able to do it anymore. Years back, even into my teenage years and beyond, skating was “my thing.” What I mean by that is that I LOVED it. I looked forward every year to skating the length of the canal with friends. I loved going fast, stopping with a spray, going backwards. Again, on skates, I felt that rush of freedom and exhilaration.
As I stepped onto the ice of the rink, hand gripped onto the boards, I walked cautiously, small shuffling along. I did a turn or two of the rink, letting my feet get used to the feel of the ice again, to gliding. I decided then and there, whether I fell or not, looked silly or not, I was just going to go for it and try to “let it go” and just SKATE. I loved every single minute of it. As many others went in and started packing up to head home, I could have kept going another hour or more. I remembered why it is that I used to love it. Oh, I still wasn’t sure-footed and solid. I still teetered a few times, still stopped myself from “going too fast.” I didn’t, however, think about calories or making sure I got in a good workout. Nope, I just enjoyed the moment of being out there with my kids having a blast.
Gym workouts and hard-core calorie burns aside, a fit lifestyle needs to include activities that you relish for their own sake, and nothing more. My hope is to participate each season in good old-fashioned fun for my friends and family to share together. I’m envisioning weekend pick-up games of family softball followed by a BBQ, snowshoeing through trails, hikes through the woods, biking along paths, and anything else we dream up that sounds fun and playful at the time.
As you slog it out at the gym and enter your food journal for the day, try also to make some time to do something that makes you laugh, that makes you feel like a kid again, or that just simply makes you feel, in that second, thankful for being alive!