After a stressful, cold (for London) winter, we've made a pact to get in shape before our lives are turned upside down (this time in a good way) in the spring. For me, it's not so much about being svelte and I certainly don't have any illusions of being waifish. I love good food, good wine and my life is far too full of wonderful things to waste too much time comparing myself against the likes of Kate Bosworth. Besides, I like my hips and my boobs and I like that, even in the dark, no one would mistake my body for anything other than that of a woman. My new fashion idol these days is Christina Hendricks, the red haired actress who plays Joan Holloway in Mad Men. Good god that woman is hot.

Right, we were talking about running. The thing is, when I actually make a point of doing it on a regular basis, I really love running. I like being outside, I like turning up peppy/poppy music on my iPod and letting it propel me forward. When it's really good, it feels almost like dancing. My adrenaline level goes up and I feel like I could run forever. So today, for the first time in a good two months, I went for a run and it hurt and my lungs felt like they were on fire. A few months ago, I was at the point where I could do my 2 km at a decent pace without stopping much to catch my breath. Today I was pretty much back at square one - huffing and puffing and trying to bargain with myself - "OK, just run to the end of that block, then you can walk for a minute!"

Not fun, but strangely, still rewarding. So I have made a pact with myself to go between three and four times a week and keep this up until I have my easy 2 km back. Awhile back I bought a Nike + Kit for my iPod. It gives me the little bit of extra motivation I need and I really like getting back to see a graphical representation of my run. How far I went, how fast, how many calories. Back when I was going more regularly, I loved hearing the Nike + voice tell me, "Congratulations! That was your best time!"

About five years ago, I took Krav Maga with my friends Carrie and Jackie (pictured with me at the top of this post). For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Krav Maga is essentially Israeli street fighting and it's one of the strands of training done by the Israeli army. It's hard core, even in my little Canadian prairie town. I remember feeling like I would die during those first weeks of classes. I simultaneously felt like I might pass out or vomit, all while wishing a little that someone would render me unconscious so that it wouldn't hurt anymore and so that god damned Richard (our instructor) would stop yelling at me to go harder and faster. Our knuckles bled and we were black and blue, but we kept going back and eventually, it didn't hurt as much (except for the knuckles, those always hurt). And we were motivated by the fact that we felt strong and empowered and like we could quite likely kick the ass of any idiot stupid enough to try anything - or at least kick his ass long enough to run away.

In one class our instructor taught us what to do if someone was choking us - how to get away. It involved a quick twist, an elbow to our attackers face and a quick knee in the balls. For weeks we went around saying, "Come on, grab my neck!" to friends so we could demonstrate the technique, sometimes with not a lot of success. It was fun and challenging and we all loved it, even the inevitable stiffness the day after hard workouts, which we would whine about over brunch.

Being healthy shouldn't be a chore and it makes me sad how many people (usually women) feel they need to starve themselves to feel acceptable. Admittedly, I've had a pretty bad winter health-wise. I haven't been sick, but I haven't been taking care of myself the way I should. I don't feel strong and I want that back.

So my fitness goal over the next six months isn't to loose a certain amount of weight or fit into a smaller dress size. I want to feel like I can run forever.

Images of Christina Hendricks from here and here.

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Anonymous said...

I have so been there (two weeks ago) as I stopped going for regular runs this winter. But it takes almost no time at all to get back to where you feel like you can just go and go and go.

Have fun! :D

Amy said...

It is amazing how quickly it does feel easier. After about three runs, I was feeling so much stronger. Unfortunately, I came down with a bad cold on Wednesday and haven't been since. Hoping to get back to it this week.

I owe you an email - it's coming this week. x