By Michele Zehr
Mo has been gently challenging me to “show more skin” as they say. I’ll admit, I’m a sweat pant and t-shirt kind of gal when I’m just hanging out at home. He's not asking this of me for any "women should show of their bodies" reason, but because it helps me "see" my body. It also helps him see my muscles during my workouts which helps him make adjustments to my form. So this week I wore spandex shorts and I had been wearing a sleeveless synthetic top for a few weeks now. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my body by any means, but I’ve never been one to wear revealing clothing. This felt revealing to me and I suppose to most people it would just be normal workout clothes. So here’s the funny part about all of this. Every session with Mo up to this point has been inside of my house. Well, the weather was fabulous this week, so wouldn’t you know it, we did my entire workout outside on a street hill in my neighborhood. I felt a little on display as I was sprinting up that hill then jumping up the hill and stopping to do pushups. If that wasn’t bad enough, it just so happened that a landscaping crew was working in exactly the same area, so I had an entire audience not only for my session with Mo, but they were still there when I went back out to run my 3 miles later that day. Heck, by the end of that we’d all said hello to each other enough times that we sort of felt like pseudo acquaintances by that afternoon.
Anytime I find myself feeling a little self-conscious, I always think about the times when I’ve seen another woman out there (with body fat) working her ass off. Every single time I’ve seen this, I have been inspired and looked upon her with total admiration. Perhaps my willingness to get outside where people in my neighborhood can see me sweat and work out my beloved body will inspire another woman too. With that said, I have the best neighbors. They all know I'm working with Mo, and if they drive by in their cars, they always slow down and yell "Keep up the great job Michele!" out the window. I really appreciate this.
This week also included a monumental moment in my life actually…..a moment when I walked into something with great fear of possible failure and walked away (hobbling is actually more accurate) having completely surprised myself. This week Mo asked how running 15 miles a week was feeling. I told him it’s going really well. You’d think I’d learn not to admit these things because inevitably the reason he’s asking is because it’s time to up my game and boy did he. This week he said it’s time for me to run 20 miles a week BUT (and this is a huge but), one day needs to be an 8 mile run and the rest can be my normal 3 miles. I have to be honest, part of me thought he was joking at first, but he was totally serious. 8 MILES?!!! Are you shitting me?!! The furthest I’ve ever run in my life was 6 miles, and that’s when I was in prime physical shape in the military (and I was about 20 years younger too).
For the first time since the day I signed up for training with Mo, I felt that sick feeling where my heart dropped into my stomach. I had serious doubts this was something I could do. Nonetheless, I found a route that was 2 miles one way (at a 5% uphill grade, but it’s a great trail), and even though I’d walked this many times, I had never considered running it up/down twice in a row for a total of 8 miles. Last Sunday, I got up, put on my running gear, and drove to the trail terrified. Even though I know there’s technically nothing to be afraid of because I can just walk if I need to, I’ve realized that I am really having to learn how to trust my body and that is not easy for me all of the time. It’s not because my body is untrustworthy but because I’m still shedding old stories I’ve bought into for years that made my body “the enemy.” See, if you do this, it’s a lot easier to ignore your body.
I started running and was shocked at how my cardiovascular system felt so much better conditioned. I wasn't expecting this. I made it to the top and then back down and then back up, never stopping, but about the last 3 miles I started really getting stiff and feeling a lot of pain in my hips and thighs. I just slowed down to a pace I could handle—and yes, a speed walker passed me which made me laugh—but I RAN 8 MILES!! For the first time in my entire life, I ran 8 miles!! I still can’t believe it actually.
So how did that feel? Well, not great. I looked like I had “hiker hobble,” which is how long-distance hikers walk after a 15 mile day. I walked this way for months during my hike of the Appalachian Trail. By that evening, my knees were killing me so I had ice packs on both of them. The day after I was still stiff and sore, but it wasn’t as bad. By the next day, I was ready to jog my 3 miles again, and even though I could feel it a lot more, my body still responded. I’m still not totally convinced the 8 miles wasn’t just a fluke, but guess what—I’m getting the chance to prove it’s not at least one day a week now. It took me 2 hours to run 8 miles, so I’m no speed demon, but I am incredibly proud of myself and grateful to my body.
What all of this has been teaching me is just how fearful I am when it comes to really owning my physicality. I have a tendency to believe I’m not capable of doing certain physical things and this is a really great self-limiting belief to finally throw away. So it was a good week and frankly, I can’t believe I’ve been on this journey for 2 months now! There’s no turning back for me at this point. I really feel the progress, my body is looking fitter, I’m wearing clothes I haven’t been able to wear in 3 years, and I am starting to get glimpses of feeling almost athletic. Has it been hard? Yes yes and yes. Has it been worth it so far? Absolutely!!
P.S. If you decide to sign up with Mo because of this blog, please mention you heard about him because of Michele’s Blog. Mo offers every customer a free session for each referral, so I’d appreciate it greatly. Thank you.