Growing up in Arkansas, I stood out for several reasons. My parents were hippies, but worse than that, well-educated hippies who cooked real food (Lamb! Eggplant! Things that weren't breaded and fried!), had antique furniture, drove Volvos, and let their children run wild. In my case, running wild meant one of several options - leaving the house and roaming the streets or woods around our house until I came home for food, leaving the house and riding my horse around the pasture until I got bored, or reading all day until my head hurt and I realized I hadn't eaten anything for hours.
The reading is what really got me into trouble - for Arkansas, at least in my small part of it and at that time, I read TOO MUCH. So much that my teachers gave me grief for it, one of them even saying, "If you don't stop reading that book I'm going to shove it down your throat!" Granted, she was probably trying to teach me something while I was reading, but still...
The library even suspended me from checking out books at one point, because I read too many of them. But best yet was what happened in 1st and 2nd grade if you talked too much: as punishment, you had to sit on "the hill" during recess, and you could NOT play kickball with your friends. This worked out perfectly for me - I would finish my work quickly, talk to my friends, get in trouble, and be forced to read during recess instead of playing kickball -- which I hated, naturally. Eventually the powers that be caught on, and I wasn't allowed to read during recess anymore either - I had to go play some kind of team sport instead, or hang out with the girls by the swing set and decide which boys we would marry that day.
That's probably where my dislike of team sports began, to whatever extent that it wasn't inherent. I didn't participate in sports at all in school - I did band, marching band, theatre, student council, French club -- all those geeky activities -- but no sports. The only time I chose any remotely active pastime was the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, when I realized that if I took PE all summer, I wouldn't have to take it EVER AGAIN. So, in the crazy Houston summer heat and humidity, I played tennis, ran track, played volleyball (that was probably inside, as was basketball), and did who knows what else. At the time, my dad said that was the most active he'd ever seen me, and that has held true until very recently.
In April, a friend and I signed up for a twice-weekly Boot/Fit Camp at a nearby park. Actually, it's three days a week, but we didn't realize that when we signed up, and we weren't willing to go on Saturday mornings. Two evenings a week we'd pack our yoga mats, 8# weights, put on our running shoes, and head to the park. The first time we went we were so sore afterward that we had a hard time lifting pint glasses to drink our beers - that's how pathetic we were - or at least, I was. The classes were challenging, and I couldn't do everything, especially the running/sprinting/bounding/jumping stuff the instructors are so fond of, but we kept going. April was nice, the weather cooperated and we kept going. For the the month of May, the weather was still pleasant. June saw warmer temps, and then I left town for two weeks, and that might have been the end of it, EXCEPT - I'd finally begun to see progress. I even missed exercising while we were on vacation.
Fast forward to now, midway through August, and I'm hooked. I've started running two miles on days we don't work out - ME, The Girl Who Doesn't Run (with or without Dragons, Fire or Hornets besetting me). I feel better if I exercise each day. On days when we go to Fit Camp in the morning, people at work comment on my high energy level. And here's the crazy thing - I've lost weight. I didn't really set out to - I knew I could lose a few pounds, but I really didn't want to feel like I had to conform to any arbitrary pop culture body image standard, as long as I was within the norms, which I was. I don't really believe in messing with my body for the sake of vanity, rather than health reasons, which is why my teeth are crooked, I wear glasses, and I have a big blue mole on my forehead right between my eyes.
Wow, that makes me sound attractive, doesn't it? Here, let's see:
Works for me.
So what's the moral to my story? One is my amazing new discovery that - wait for it - if you eat less and exercise more, you lose weight. I know, revolutionary. Another is that the more you move your body, the more you want to. Yet another is that I am vain - I do like how I look these days, even though I didn't set out with that goal in mind. However, I haven't read very much this summer, and as my friend Lisa keeps pointing out, I haven't played Words with Friends in weeks. Less time sitting on my ass, more time moving it, has been my motto. Maybe this winter I'll settle down and fatten up, or maybe I'll run a 5K with some friends and start asking Kris and Jenn probing questions about the Danskin - who knows?