From the Editor: Redesigns & Fitness

By Andy Lien February 6, 2014

Categories: Lifestyles & Communities, Our Lives

So, how do we look? We’ve had a little work done. A little nip here, a tuck there…a new font here, some streamlined pages there. As promised, with our new programming and partnerships also came a little redesign. We took a little weight off the tops of the pages and put the contributors at the front while taking some weight off some fonts and adding strength in boldness here and there. How apropos for our first Fitness Quarterly.

Fitness. One of my least favorite “F” words. Some “F” words are fun and naughty to say, this one just makes me cringe. My story is not uncommon. Another “F” word is Fat. I started big, stayed big, and am big. I’ve tried not to be, many times, and will continue to try not to be. As you know, Yoda tells us: “Do. Or do not. There is no ‘try.’” I know. I just haven’t done it, yet. That “do” part is what gets me. He also says, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” That’s the bigger part of this challenge of “doing.”

I’m not going to say I’m not happy with myself. I mostly am. Except for that being overweight thing that I’ve thought about every single day since the second grade when I was first told that I was too heavy. Every single day. People, ads, media, clothing…so many messages telling me how I should or shouldn’t be. Because of this perspective, I won’t be the one on a soapbox telling anyone else how they should look or feel about themselves. It’s personal. But, because our persons are so obvious to others (and not easy to hide), the topic of bodies and fitness is often a public one.

The real bummer of it is, if fitness were based on something I like or had a natural inclination for, I’d be ridiculously fit. If fitness depended on whether or not I can sing the alto part to almost any song, given plenty of practice, I’d be a poster child for it. Or, if going on a really long road trip and having stamina for driving were the way to build muscle, I’d be ripped. Or, if going on month-long diets with 110% gusto multiple times a year could get me there, I’d be there.

But, fitness takes work. Fitness is uncomfortable. It can be klutzy and I have to learn how to do it to be safe. It is similar to things I like to do, like reading music and being good at singing and singing with other people–feeling teamwork and camaraderie–which could make it easy to continue doing on a regular basis. But it is not something I like to do, yet, and probably won’t be until I turn fitness into something that I like, that I’m good at, that I can do with other people and feel camaraderie. This will take some of that unlearning that Yoda mentioned. I have to unlearn my aversion to it and learn how to like it. I need to really understand how it will make me feel better, how it will even make me feel good.

And I’ve started this project of learning “Fitness.” Last year, I made the choice to start working with a personal trainer. It was a stressful time and I was trying to figure out how to work through the stress–by talk therapy or something else. Out of nowhere came the idea that I could probably work through the stress by working out. What? Me? The person who laughs at my friends’ sports injuries because “that doesn’t happen in choir” might actually do something athletic? I did and I don’t regret a lick of it. When I could’ve been at home noshing on whatever carb I could find as I pored through current events, I was instead at the gym…learning how to do Romanian deadlifts and use the workout machines. I was crunching numbers of reps and sets instead of chips. With each new exercise I learned, I also learned to have more self-respect for my body. I used to think that big bodies weren’t capable of being active without the real threat of incapacitating injury. It just ain’t so, and my trusted personal trainer helped me learn my body’s limits and warning signs…as well as its growing pains. What a freeing experience it’s been.

What people say about feeling better about ourselves when we work out turned out to be true for me. Sounds like a cliche–a trap!–but I felt semi-euphoric after working out. My steps felt lighter when I got off the elliptical (I think it was a physics trick or something). But, not just physically, my mental state improved. When I looked around and saw other people working out, I didn’t dwell as much on whether or not they were judging me, but I noticed that they were sweating, too. They had turned bright red like I did. They had to wipe their workout off the machine with the antibacterial spray and papertowels just like everyone else. Working out is messy. I get messy working out. But I am not a mess. I may be big, but I am strong. And I am getting stronger. And, to get back to our “F” words, that’s a BFD.

It’s up to you to decide if you want your own redesign. Is there something “wrong” when we want to revamp how we look? Not necessarily. It’s up to each of us to decide if and when and what constitutes an improvement in our lives. For me, I understand that food and fitness are two areas in which I would like to improve…I need to redesign my habits and behaviors to redesign myself. My content will be much the same, like this magazine, but I’ll look (and feel) a bit better. And I’ll be a whole lot stronger, too.

With sweat and thanks,
Andy

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