the rest of my life can't compare

Whenever I go to a work-out class, the instructor begins by reminding everyone to take it to their own level. And so I do - or at least I try to.

It was easier to take it to my own level when my level was as low as it could be. When I walked into zumba for the first time, I knew I couldn't twist or turn as much as the other participants. I knew that just being in the class, standing for an hour, and trying to move was more exercise than I'd had in a very long time. And it was enough.

Now, nearly 10 months later, I can't do just the bare minimum - at least not if I want to burn calories and get fit. So, the question becomes, what can I do?

There are injuries that I've sustained in the past which keep me from some things. Or at least that's what I tell myself and other people. The closer I get to losing 100 pounds and being strong, though, the more I realize that the injuries are healing. The more I see that I can no longer hide behind the past knee surgeries, the past torn ligaments, the past things I used as excuses for why I didn't run or work out.

Boot Camp on Wednesday reminded me of this. We started with a warm-up that included jumping jacks. Taking it to my own level meant I had a choice: I could do the easier jumping jack (moving one leg at a time while moving my arms) or I could push myself and jump up and down - moving my legs in a way they haven't moved since high school. Timidly, I chose to push myself, and as I completed the first jumping jack, I realized that my body moved in a much different way than it had back in April. I realized that I really could do this thing they call exercise.

I didn't do every jumping jack perfectly. My feet didn't lift quite as high off the floor. But I did something I had no idea my body could do.

It didn't just stop there either. I found that I could pull my body all the way up into a fill sit-up with ease. I also found that running wasn't as difficult as it had once been. And those squats I used to be so fearful of? I was starting to enjoy them.

No one can tell me what I can do or can't do. It's up to me to listen to my body and to know just how far I can take it. My squats aren't as deep as some people's, and I do not run quite as quickly as others. But it doesn't matter. I'm not racing anyone but myself.

It's strange - this new body I have. It's a temporary weight, but it's 36 pounds lighter and much stronger than how I started. The capabilities my body has now are so much greater than what it had 10 months ago. And the capabilities will be even greater in another 10 months.

There is every possibility that I could do all those things when I was 36 pounds heavier, but I didn't believe in myself then. I didn't push myself then. But now, I do believe in myself and I love having something to push myself towards. I love telling myself that I really can do all these things and then seeing myself actually do them.

Watching other people helps. At Boot Camp, there are a hundred other people also working out. We're split into three teams based on our capabilities. I'm in the alpha group (AKA the beginners group), and I think that honestly I could have made it into the middle group if I had just pushed myself harder. When we completed the assessment, I didn't think I could do a full sit-up or run more of a mile. I needed this chance to sit back and watch everyone else and realize that I am stronger than I thought. I needed to be reminded that I'm not the same girl I was 10 months and 36 pounds ago. I needed to see other people doing exercises and then think to myself I can do that and then actually do it.

I talked a big game when I first started - mentioning how I wanted to run a marathon. And I do, but when I first said it, I thought it would never be possible. I thought it was a good dream to have but knew my knees wouldn't allow it. But now? Now it's a real possibility. Not today or tomorrow but somewhere in the future.

Nothing is out of reach for me now. Which is amazing and also terrifying. Rather than be scared, I'm going to choose to concentrate on all the amazing possibilities - another thing I never would have done 10 months ago.

(title from "they bring me to you" by joshua radin)

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