Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What it means to be fit

Last week an email went out to all employees at our company asking if anyone would be interested in forming a softball team to play in a local tournament. I deleted it. Team sports are definitely not my thing.

My immediate negative reaction started the gears turning in my brain.

I grew up with a negative attitude toward physical fitness and exercise because I associated those things with the misery that was gym class. I was so very bad at all of it - running laps, team sports; I hated every minute of it.

Yet here I am now: a person who makes a point to exercise and even kinda thinks it's fun. But I still don't want to play softball.

Somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to run though. The first yearnings actually had nothing to do with physical fitness or weight loss. The first time that I ever remember thinking that I wanted to run was during my mid-twenties. I was having a bit of an identity crisis and experiencing more than a little bit of depression, though at the time I did not realize what it was. And I wanted to run.

I wanted to run because the idea of running away was so appealing. The idea of physically running seemed attractive; it seemed like it must feel so free. That was the image I had in my mind.

These days I'm pretty happy with my life. I feel fortunate that I was able to get to this place. But I still want to run. Now it's not about running away though.

Part of it is absolutely about weight loss. No matter how many times I tell myself that exercise is not going to do it for me, that I have to figure out how to eat to lose weight, I still find myself wanting exercise to be the answer. Running is so often spoken of as the ultimate calorie burner, so I can't help but hope that if I could actually do it, I might lose some of these pounds.

But part of it is also the idea that if I am a fit person, I should be able to run. I'm not sure why I think that exactly. I have absolutely no problem saying that I am crap at team sports and I have no interest in playing them. That does not enter into my vision of fitness. But I can't shake the idea that I should be able to run.

If someone else were saying this to me, I'd say that maybe not everyone is built to be a runner. There are plenty of other things one can do to be fit. But it seems I can't let myself off the hook.

So my question is: What does it mean to be fit?

How does one know they are fit? How do you measure your physical fitness?


♥ Dee ♥ said...

Excellent question.

Hmmm. I think it means runnin for me, too. As soon as I read your post I thought of how I felt after this years Sun Run. The fact that I ran 10K with very little training was a testament (to me) of how physically fit I am.

Nothing else has really given me that "aha" to the same degree, that I can think of.

the Bag Lady said...

I have no burning desire to run, but I do see the appeal. I am definitely with you on the hatred of team sports, though! I was always so bad at everything, I'd be the next to last chosen for the team (there was one other girl who was even worse than I was - but she had a mental handicap!)

kristisummer said...

That is a tough question I guess by when I do have a trainer and when I am teaching my fitness classes. Great post.

Miz said...

for me it has never been more clear than being a mom.
being fit means that I can gogogogo with her from 7a-6p nonstop and I can do it with out needing a nap (which she wont take)

It means Im not sore at the end of my days with the Tornado.

It means I wake up ready and EXCITED to do it all again---emphasis on the ready :)

Missicat said...

Good question. I too began to run a few years back...guess it stemmed from not doing so well at team sports. Now that I am approaching my 45th birthday (eeek!) I am running to keep fit, to ward off old age, and just to feel better about myself - if I can still run it is all OK!

Merry said...

Aw, Missicat, you're just a baby! (Quoth the woman who's approaching her 46th...)

I don't think I ever feel "fit." It's relative. I feel fitter than I have been in the past. (The nice part of having an exercise blog is that you can look back through old posts and see how much progress you've made.)

Emily said...

C25K- I LOVE running now but notsomuch a year ago. The Couch-to-5K was a GREAT program that eased me into running. If short, round me can run, ANYONE can run! Given I'm still happen to break a 10min pace, I'm not winning any awards but I can DO IT!

Charlotte said...

I love this post! This line:"But part of it is also the idea that if I am a fit person, I should be able to run." sums up my feelings too. I recently had a conversation with another pregnant runner friend. We were walking on the treadmills together and she leaned over and whispered, "Don't tell anyone but I really like walking. I like it better than running." Her shame around her answer made me laugh at first and then really think. I have the same problem - it's like if I CAN run than I should be running. No matter that it hurts & that I enjoy my surroundings better if I walk. Yet sometimes it does feel good to push. I wish that we could run or walk depending on how felt and still be considered "fit" either way.

JavaChick said...

Dee - definitely an accomplishment to be proud of!

Bag Lady - Yep, I was always one of the last standing as well. Not a fun time. Standing around waiting to be picked for something I didn't want to do in the first place!

kristi - seems like you must be fit if you are teaching fitness classes!

Miz - that is definitely the big reason to be fit - so we can do the things we need to do and enjoy it!

Missicat - I think whatever activities we choose to keep ourselves fit should be things that make us feel good. Good for you!

Merry - I check in on your blog and from the exercise you do, seems to me like you must be pretty fit.

Emily - I tried C25K last year and it just didn't seem to work for me. I know lots of people have great success with it though!

Charlotte - seems like it doesn't make much sense for sure. Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way!