And then Outdoor Fitness Challenge began this week.
Now, it's been a year since I smashed ropes, planked with fire hoses, and flipped tires outside. I felt pretty darn out of shape, and showed up Wednesday morning with some trepidation. It was cold (like, November cold!). It was rainy. It was early. So, I was fully expecting to hurt - capital h, HURT - the next day. I felt my arms and legs, because that's what was deliberately worked, but I could still move. I didn't, like, want to die. And I was mildly surprised at that. Mat emailed the participants to check in and see how we felt after the first session, because he knew it was designed to be hard, that it was movements that even athletic and in-shape bodies might not be used to, and probably because he wanted to make sure nobody was so damaged they were going to demand a refund.
My response to him?
"So far, so good, for how I feel. What I notice most is the difference in my core. Last year when I tried battle ropes for the first time, everything hurt. I felt it in my back a LOT and was sore and stiff all over my whole body. Not this year, though! It’s the first time I can feel what it means to have core strength. It was more theoretical before, for me. Guess I was starting to question what good Group Core was doing me, since I’ve put so much weight back on, but clearly it’s helping."
This was an example of HAES (Health at Every Size) in real life. I was fat, and I was fit. The two were not mutually exclusive. And the work I'd been doing all along, even as my eating went downhill, came into play. The weight lifting. The core training. Body weight exercises. Some endurance. Cardio. It all came together so that I could complete an intense hour and still be able to function at work for the rest of the day. I was also able to train arms the following day (hello, triceps! yes, I feel you burning), and do this morning's early morning Outdoor Fitness Challenge boot camp.
Today, the tires came out. Holy Mother Trucker, they were heavier than last year's! Mat managed to get two rather thick truck tires with smooth treads. Not like the tractor tire with mud grooves that made it easy to grip, from last summer. Oh, no. These ones were slippery suckers that I had a helluva time lifting. It didn't help that it was another wet and muddy day.
It felt good, though, because it was a challenge. A very well-intentioned participant came to help me with the big tire that I was struggling with. I was like, "uh ... I need to do it. Myself." I might have given up had she not come over, just left the tire and claimed it to be too slimy to keep flipping. I wanted to walk away. But when she ran to my rescue she stirred the fire in me and I thought, "I am figuring out a way to DO this. Don't just work harder, work smarter. I'm not someone who needs assistance!" I realized that only one side was hard to grip, so at least half the flips were do-able. And the others? I compensated by using my whole body, my knee, my chest, and yes ... even the gut I hate so much came into play. It took all of me to lift and flip, painfully slowly, but I did it. There is now a new nemesis to defeat over the next few weeks! I'm gonna get good at flipping the big tire.
It was also awesome because there was competition. I forgot how much that drives me. I'm sore now, because I truly used my whole body in the final showdown of pushing the giant tire against an opponent, wrestler-style. We all had a chance to pair up with each other, so there were three rounds (since there are 4 of us crazy enough to get up at the crack of dawn). Some strategy came into play (including a fake-out, a deke to the right when she thought I was going left, and a rather opportunistic move on my part when a kind soul paused to ask if I was okay and I was like "yeah!" SHOVE). But I also had a formidable foe who was freakishly strong and I had to work for it to knock it down. It was deeply satisfying to hear "holy crap, you're strong!" from him.
See, I don't look like someone who's strong. I am often underestimated. Given the struggle I had with flipping the tire, it's no wonder there was some shock for him when it came to wrestling the tire against me. This guy knows I'm a slow runner, have bad knees, and has seen me in lots of other classes where strength doesn't truly come into play. I'll admit: my pride was pretty happy with hearing "wow, you're strong."
Because that's what fitness should be. It should be functional.
Fat and Fit.
Yeah. It's possible.
Even if - no, especially if - it's not visible.
If there was ever an anecdote to illustrate the reasons to keep going, even if you don't feel like you are getting results, then this is it. I don't know if I'm totally out of the mental rut I fell into; there's still the weight gain to deal with. But the fire is back. Because the workouts were working, even when I thought they weren't.