Almost six months ago I embarked on a journey far crazier and more difficult than anything I had previously attempted (which, by the way, includes traveling to Siberia and interviewing an ex-Buddhist monk in Myanmar).
I knew I’d need to be at the top of my game, mentally and physically. I knew I’d have to overcome my insecurities and face new challenges without giving up. I knew it’d be tough.
I knew it was time to finally take exercising and my physical health seriously.
The deadly combination of a sedentary desk (or couch, as it were) job and a slowing metabolism were adding some unwanted fluffiness. The stress of running two start-up companies and wedding planning on the side was giving me tension headaches and stomach issues. I knew something had to change, and that something was me.
Now, I’m not exactly athletically inclined. The last official organized sport I played was t-ball when I was a very small child. (And let’s be honest, I only did it because there was cold grape soda afterward). I’d tried running various times with my sister and friends during and after college, but I hated every minute of it.
As a creative entrepreneur, my mind is always going. So, I knew I need exercise solutions that would relieve tension, get my heart rate up, and occupy and engage my brain. I needed something I could learn and enjoy enough to do it regularly.
I started with a half hour of yoga every night before I went to bed, thanks to watching videos on YouTube (Yoga with Adrienne is awesome). It was no quick fix, but after months of consistent practice I found myself growing stronger, more flexible, and less stressed. The tension headaches and back problems gradually went away, but I still wanted to trim down and add some cardio to the mix.
“Great!” Said my fiance, who is the complete opposite of me (i.e. ridiculously athletic) and has been a principal ballet dancer and swing dance instructor for many years. “We’ll sign you up for a dance class.”
No, thank you. I humiliate myself enough on a daily basis. Why not?, he insisted. I’m too old. I can’t learn the steps. I’m not athletic. I look horrible in a leotard. (That one earned me a dirty look). But he slowly wore me down.
Six months ago I signed up for an intermediate adult ballet class (there are no classes for adult beginners) at his dance studio. And it all went fabulously. I picked it up quickly. I lost weight. I never felt lost or overwhelmed. Right?
Wrong on all counts. I cried on the phone with him every single week after class for four months. I kid you not. I’m not making this up.
It was hard. I was using muscles I’d never used before. I was trying to learn years’ worth of knowledge of poses and choreography into a few minutes. As the largest woman there (at a hefty size 10), I struggled almost constantly at first to not look at myself critically in the studio-length mirror. I fought every week not to quit.
I’m a creative type person, I thought. I’m just not good at this type of thing. I’m not athletic. I’ll never be able to do the things they can do. I should just give up.
But I didn’t, thanks in large part to my fiance’s patient encouragement. And you know what? It’s still hard. Really, really hard some days. I still have to talk myself into going to class every week. But I’m learning. I’m improving. There are muscles now where there was once chicken wings. For the first time in my life I actually have abs. Talk about weird.
Even more importantly, I conquered my fear of failure. I conquered my fear of looking foolish. I overcame my insecurities and accepted myself and my limitations and tried to do a bit better each time. And it’s paying off.
This week I’m starting rehearsals for the studio’s spring recitals. I’ve been informed by my various friends at the studio that I’m auditioning for a party parent role in the company’s annual performance of the Nutcracker. I can do a push-up without falling on my face and I no longer stare blankly when someone tells me to tondu and releve.
I’m less stressed and more confident. I’m healthier and stronger and have more energy for the endless tasks facing a creative entrepreneur. And you know what? If my 29-year-old, non-athletic, bookwormish self can walk into a ballet class and own it, so can you.
So. Can. You.
Note: The person in the photo is not me. She’s much more graceful. #adultgoals