Someone called me fit recently and I laughed.
I know something they don’t. My body mass index tells me I’m overweight, the number on the scale is not one I want, and compared to my elite and professional running friends, I’m far from being physically adept at conquering feats that are too strenuous. Basically, my brain hears, “You’re fit,” and immediately taunts: “Let me count the ways you are not.”
But what if I am?
I’m not talking about Olympic contender fit, but what if today I am exactly where I need to be?
I do what you do. I look at other people and I judge myself. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t belong to a gym. I don’t want to work out next to someone who is clearly more athletically advanced than I am. Been there, done that, not fun for the self-esteem.
So I started doing things my own way.
I started gently walking twice a day in circles around my neighbor’s house.
No one was around, it was just me and my dogs. We started walking once a day in the early morning and soon we added an evening walk. We graduated to power walking, and two months later I wondered what would happen if I started to jog. I decided to try, couching my endeavors as a “fast walk” in order to rid any preconceived notions that I could run.
The mornings I didn’t jog were the ones when the yard crew was working, or the maintenance personnel were around. No one should have to see my fledgling attempts.
But one circle at a time I got stronger, physically and mentally. A couple of months later I was bored of running in circles, so I took to the highway. A few weeks later I went to the park for the first time. Strangers saw me running and I survived. I keep going back.
I’m more fit now than I was last week (my long run this morning proved that), and I’m certainly in better shape than I was two, three or five months ago.
Am I as fit as my friend who runs marathons for a living, or my friend who’s training for the Olympic trials, or the one who’s trying to qualify for the 2014 Boston marathon? The answer’s obvious, but I’m not worrying about that and neither should you.
We should stop comparing ourselves to arbitrary numbers or to the person working out or running next to us. It’s not about them.
It’s about taking the first step to fitness and realizing we define that word for ourselves. I might not be chiseled and I’m not a size 2, but for today, I’m where I need to be. I’m fit.