Do you hate me already? Please don't. I should preface this by saying a few things (I always have a few things to state before I make my main point.)
1. I am not trying to exercise to get a "bikini body," whatever that means. I love a post with the clickbait title: "How to Get a Bikini Body," which when you click through, had these simple steps:
1) Get a bikini.
2) Put it on your body.
In THEORY, I completely agree with this. I certainly agree with it for anyone who feels comfortable in a bikini, no matter what their size. I just don't agree with it for ME. I will not be wearing a bikini, this summer or any other. Last year I bought an adorable skirted suit that I feel great in. And since research shows that even liposuction doesn't get rid of cellulite (it's a skin issue, not a fat issue), I'm fine with keeping my thighs covered.
No, it's not about bathing suit season. I'm just trying to be LESS LAME. How pathetic is it that I am just now, after 4 weeks* of the 5K Runner app (which I highly recommend, by the way) huffing and puffing my way through 3-minute runs? But hey, at least I can run that long now--anything over 10 seconds used to make me break out in a sweat. I could run out of a burning building now if need be!
*Actual time to get this far: about 8 weeks, since we keep only going to the gym 1 day a week, then having to repeat the last day we did. WE ARE BUSY PEOPLE, DAGNABIT.
2. I also have two other goals: keep fitting into the clothes I currently own (and lose enough weight that I am more comfortable in them) and not becoming the old woman who can't get up out of a chair without assistance.
I know. Some of us have lofty goals. It is a lonely road we travel. *stares into the distance pensively*
So, anyway, Tuesday night we were at the gym. I don't exactly know why we go together, because a) we spend all day and night together already and b) he is faster than I am, so we only warm up and cool down together anyway. OH WAIT, I do know why we go together--because I would find an excuse not to go if he didn't push me.
I was huffing and puffing in the middle of one of those "long" 3-minute runs, listening to music on another great free app called Rock My Run, when a boy-teenager passed me going approximately 90 mph. Or, you know, some speed above a walk (I'm pretty sure most people can walk faster than I "run," especially during the second half of my workout.)
I see these type of runners every week. They're usually very thin and young. They zoom around the track a few times, passing everybody up, and then they're done. And I don't see them there every week--it's seemingly random.
Now, I don't know for sure if this is part of their training regimen, but "run as fast as you can for five minutes every two weeks" doesn't seem like a good way to stay in shape. I have to admit that I'm okay with feeling smug about being better than these roadrunners. Someone weighs 500 pounds and is struggling around the track? More power to them; absolutely no ridicule here. Someone is overweight and never works out? None of my business. Someone is "thin" but out of shape? FIST BUMP, MY SISTER.
But I DO feel superior to these kids (they are all kids to my nearly-40-year-old self). They are in good enough shape to run fast...for five minutes. I could have done that at their age. Big whoop. At this stage of life, what I value most is perseverance. If I have to walk in between my measly 3 minute runs, so be it. I NEED to walk, simply to catch my breath since my lungs feel like fiery lumps of metal that are useless at supplying oxygen to the rest of my body. I love the walks. I welcome the walks. You go on ahead and sprint--but I'll still be here plodding along 20 minutes later while you're off cherishing the delusion that your body will always be this perfectly svelte while you demolish a carton of ice cream and a bag of chips.
*weeps for my dearly departed metabolism*
Sorry, I didn't mean to depress myself. I'm back.
What was I saying? Oh, right: perseverance. It's something I've come to value in the last few years, and not merely in regard to exercise. There is something to be said for not quitting even when everything in you screams that you should. Like most people who have been married more than 5 years, I've thought about divorce. But Justin and I made a deal that whoever left had to take the children, and I've never been able to face raising them on my own.
I'm kidding. (Kind of.) But I'm not kidding when I say that I'm so, so glad I didn't take the easy way out. Our marriage may not be glamorous, but it works for us. We never would have gotten to this excellent place if we had zoomed through a few years, then parted ways when things got hard.
Same thing with business. Six years ago, the shop we were renting burned down, destroying $60,000 worth of cabinets that we had to replace out of pocket (insurance didn't cover them) and damaging or outright destroying most of the machinery. We considered closing our doors, but realized that other shops were closing due to the economy, and if we could hang in there, we could be one of the top cabinet shops in the area. Which is exactly what's happened.
It wouldn't have happened if we had stopped when the going got tough.
The same is true for our spiritual lives. We are all going to face valleys and dry spells--it's just part of being human, and we are fallible even though we love Jesus. No wonder the Bible says, "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NIV).
Let's look at the second part of that verse first: you're not going to be successful just because you're talented. Time and chance (i.e. luck) have a lot more to do with it than we think. Now, that may sound almost as depressing as my realization that I can't maintain my weight while eating that same amount in chips and queso, but bear with me.
The comforting part of the verse is to realize that just because someone starts with an advantage, it doesn't mean that they finish with an advantage.
Because finishing is the REAL reward. They don't give medals for "fastest starter." If you run a marathon, your time isn't important unless you run all 26.2 miles.
(Which is why I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that I'm never going to run a marathon. Can you imagine how long it would TAKE me to finish?)
Just ask the hare who decided to take a nap while the tortoise kept plodding forward. Slow and steady wins the race.
Anyone can start well. How well will you finish?