I have made a wonderful discovery this weekend: I am starting to be able to do chin-ups on the bar!
The chin-up bar, in my mind, is ridden with high expectations and false sense of hope. I have never been able to do chin-ups in my life and while I briefly worked on it last year (i.e. stepping on a chair and doing negative reps), I have not touched it for a while.
Yesterday, I was going into the laundry room and just decided to go for it. I had no expectations and just walked up to it.
I pulled myself up quite easily without any strain that I normally felt in the abdominals or biceps and I was not arching my back! It didn’t feel as difficult as it had in the past, where I am often straining to get all the way to the top and find myself panting like a dog. There is definitely something to said about doing bodyweight exercises*!
And since I’ve started trying to get fit again, I haven’t used any machines, other than a stationary bike. All the exercises, both at the gym and yoga at home, help develop my muscles as a whole system. My back, my abs, my arms, my shoulders and my legs are all getting stronger at the same time and developing without any one area gaining faster than the others.
And no, I haven’t had any weird protein shakes (my sack of Vega powder continues to gather dust in our pantry) and I still don’t eat as much fruit as I should (just last week, I was eating mostly potato patties that contain 8 grams of fat each, as well as an entire box of cheesesticks in about 2 days). I’m still vegetarian and while I’m moderately healthy, I haven’t changed my diet to give me magical strength.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that I should continue to devour an entire box of greasy, fatty McCormick’s hash browns every two weeks, but it means that I’m doing alright and have been getting fit at a safe, decent pace without putting my body through any strain. And you can even see that, as I track my weight and lean mass on the FitBit Aria, I’ve been flatlining.
I’m alright with this.
Weight, for me, is just a number. I have no superhuman drive to work aggressively for giant guns or a six-pack – it’d be nice to have one, but ehhhhh, I just want to get rid of my muffin top – and what I’ve concluded is that at least I am becoming healthy at a very natural pace. My pace.
Now, having said all this, I’ve also realized that living in a town where there is nothing to do has helped me become focused on achieving those goals and targets much more quickly than if I were living in Toronto. If I were still in the city, I likely be going out a lot in my free time, getting distracted, working out irregularly. Mind you, I love my friends and family dearly and would love to be closer to them. However, being up here, I’ve also tried to make the best of a not-so-ideal lifestyle, in a town where there isn’t anything to do (there isn’t even a movie theatre or a mall).
And when I get confused looks as people ask me why I continue to live up here, the only way I can explain it is that it’s like military service. You’re safe, you’re isolated, but you’re here to train. And there really are no distractions. And I can say that for both my work and my personal life. The lack of activities around me and my INTJ personality allow me to become hyperfocused on mini projects that I otherwise would plod along much more slowly at – learning Turkish, Mandarin or Hindi, learning yoga poses at breakneck speed or becoming better as a crosscountry skier. And surprisingly, many of these things I could have never predicted I would do if you had asked me a mere three years ago.
So I suppose the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m fairly happy with where I am in life.
I am healthy and constantly surprise myself with what my body can achieve**. I have good debt (paying off a car). I am employed full-time with a dental plan. I have a lot of autonomy in my job and am challenged appropriately.I can stay in touch with my friends and family despite the distance. My boyfriend and I get along and he prevents me from being a workaholic. I have enough money to travel overseas once a year. I am content.
And I am only 31 years old.
I’m looking forward to 32.
**This week, I started lifting off from tripod headstand into crow pose (Instagram). Just yesterday, I finally started rolling my toes over when going from chaturanga dandasana to seal pose.