Sunday, May 04, 2008

Point of View

I am not athletic.

I feel like I've spent my whole life apologizing for the fact that I'm just not athletic. I never have been. I've only rarely enjoyed "exercise" for the sake of exercising. I have no hand-eye coordination. I'm sort of hideously slow moving. I'm not athletic and I generally feel terrible about this because maybe if I were more athletic, I'd look healthier or be smaller or more...something. And because I'm not (and because, as my doctor so delicately put it, my body "favors storage"), I've sort of carried around this bad image of my unathletic self for...well....almost 38 years now.

Only today, I did this:

...and as I was in my 5th hour of working on this little "prune until you find the side yard" project, I realized that I was doing significant exercise....and that I'd been doing significant exercise for a long damn time (I started my day by mowing the grass).

So in between yanking down 10' long branches tangled in ancient honeysuckle, I started wondering why... Why is it that I couldn't comfortably jog a mile, but I can (happily!) spend five or six hours walking, bending squatting, pulling and hauling overgrown crap out of my back yard? Probably some of it has to do with intensity: yard work isn't quite the heart-rate elevator that jogging is... But I also think it has to do with the fact that yard work comes with a purpose.

I grew up around farmland. My grandmother has a farm and my Dad was always busy doing something over there. So while I was sucking wind at my kickball games and failing utterly to throw a softball at someone's glove, I was helping to put in hay on the farm....or weeding my mother's garden...or helping to set tobacco. I couldn't get into exercise...but I managed to do these things just fine. Maybe what my body understands is exercise with a point to it.

I had a marvelous conversation with DoodleJ this weekend about movement and body image...and she had some fantastic perspectives to share. She pointed out that she's trying to re-frame her view of herself to being "an active person"...and that makes a lot of sense to me. At the same time, some whiney little bit of me in the corner lamented (again) about how I'm just not an athletic person...but maybe that part needs to shut up.

I wish I had the "before" picture to illustrate the change...but by the numbers, I spent 6 hours total in the yard today and have 5 more giant bundles of limbs, 2 filled leaf bags, and this to show for it:

As an added bonus, I have a body that's been absolutely put through its paces. Maybe DoodleJ's right: maybe it's not about being "athletic"...but just about finding active things that make sense in my life and doing them.

Looking at the piles of branches in the front yard, I'm thinking maybe I don't need to be athletic...I think I'll settle for simply badass!


towwas said...

I've spent most of my life being unhappy about being unathletic, too. Picked last for teams, avoiding all exercise, etc. My body doesn't favor storage [heh - good phrase], but I still feel lame about being a weakling. And I don't have a yard. Maybe I should shuffle all my furniture around every weekend.

towwas said...

Also, you are a badass.