I had spotted her as I was doing leg presses. She was wearing a green short sleeve top and black pants. She was doing an overhead press and I was impressed- especially because of her age. I can't do an overhead press and I'm at least half her age. But she was doing it and I was cheering her on in my mind. I kept going about my workout and always managed to catch her out of the corner of my eye. She was making her way through the various weight machines, always with more intensity and strength than I was.
The next time I looked up and noticed, I was on the elliptical and she was in front of me on a treadmill. That's when I noticed it. She was heavily limping, barely able to move her left leg. It was just dragging with her as she walked. And her left arm seemed to not be working the way she wanted it to either. Her hand was curled at her side and every once in awhile she would shake it out, try to stretch her fingers. It appeared she had had a stroke at some point in her life. Instead of feeling sorry for her fate and what she's had to endure, I instantly felt inspired. Here she was, being a bad ass at the gym while I was only there for the 2nd day in a row in about two years. Despite her difficulties in the physical, she had shown up and was working her ass off.
I left the gym that day feeling more inspired than I have in a long time. A million thoughts raced through my mind.
"I only have one body, and it's still in peak condition, why am I wasting it by not taking care of it?""I have the ability to transform my body, and I'm wasting it.""My body is an incredible thing, why am I taking that for granted?"
Since Henry was born over two years ago, I've been just coasting through life, assuming I was healthy-ish. I don't eat much (though what I do eat is not healthy). I don't exercise much (an occasional Monday night Zumba class here and there). My weight was fine, my energy level was fine, my mood was fine. But on that day, I decided I wanted more. I wanted to feel better and look better. I wanted to have energy and a clear mind. And though I was already starting on a diet to get prepped for a beach vacation in a couple months, I wanted to do it for ME. Not for the beach. Not for my bathing suit. I don't want to just coast.
My husband re-started my gym membership and I've re-dedicated myself. I want to appreciate this body that has gotten me through 33 years of life, has given life to another person, and has generally treated me well (with a few hiccups here and there). That one hour at the gym does wonders for me. It's my one hour of music blasting in my ear where I'm only in charge of myself. Where I can be alone, block everything out, and just go. My breath fills my lungs as I run, and the weights make my body feel strong and capable. And when I'm done at the gym, I feel more clear headed, more creative, and like I'm ready to tackle this life that at times feels too overwhelming for me.
And I owe this renewed vision to a woman in a green shirt and black pants, who probably has no idea just how inspiring she is simply by showing up to the gym. But if she can do it, then so can I.