This week my gym had their 5th anniversary and they hosted a strength challenge for any members who wanted to participate. I totally lost. In such a huge way in fact, that would embarrass most people who are remotely competitive. Unless they’re proud, like me, of being the worst and the last, in which case they are free to join me in a rousing chorus of We are the Champions because nobody loves sucking at sports like I do.
I signed up because it looked like it would be a lot of fun, and after glancing quickly at the requirements, decided that the highlight of the day would be when I got zero baskets in the basketball toss. I had no expectations of victory, other than the fact that the receptionist told me there were only three women entered and three prizes. So due to those odds I was guaranteed something, regardless of my performance.
Sidebar: it was a bait and switch. Lots of women showed up. Really fit ones
I could deal with those kinds of odds. When it comes to athletic endeavours I’m used to winning for being the worst. In fact, I’m really good at that. I’m not even joking or feeling sorry for myself. It’s a true fact. I’m uncoordinated and my head is a ball magnet so any sports that involve spheres usually end badly.
So anyways, I entered this thing because I thought I could win by default. My confidence was bolstered by the fact that I recently squatted 125 lbs (after conquering 105) and I know that if there’s one gym thing I’m good at, it’s deadlifts (apparently I have a very strong tushie). So, I had some performance to back me up.
To tell you the truth, the fact that I was even there was a win for me. 18 months ago ago I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, one of the causes of hyperthyroid. Before I got sick, I was pretty into Moksha hot yoga, which was keeping me fit and happy. One of the symptoms of my illness is heat sensitivity, and I just couldn’t tolerate the hot room – at all. It made me dizzy and I started vomiting after class. Even before I knew what was wrong with me, I had to stop.
In addition to the issues with heat, I also had heart palpitations, sensitivity to caffeine, muscle pain, mental fog (even more than usual), tremors (I couldn’t hold steady long enough to take a photo), extreme fatigue (devastating and scary for someone with my usual energy level), and weight loss (sounds better than it is). As well, Graves Disease eats away at your muscles. I was basically a shaking, spacey, very skinny, strung-out bowl of jello. I thought I was allergic to COFFEE. IT WAS HORRIBLE.
And I’ve mentioned my eye, right? Google ‘Graves Eye’. Most people get two Graves eyes. I’m lucky. I got just one. I call it, affectionately, my Boogie Eye because it wants to boogie so bad it’s open 5 mm more than the other one.
So you can imagine that even BEING at the gym, ready to conquer any kind of weight lifting challenge is an accomplishment for me. Because not even 24 months ago, carrying a laundry basket was a task to dread.
Drumroll please…On Tuesday, I did this:
- 2 km row in 12:36 (out of ALL the competitors, that was the slowest time by at least one minute)
- Barbell Deadlift 115 lbs x 5 reps (decent showing)
- Barbell Squat 105 lbs x 5 reps (I could have done way more weight; I don’t know what I was thinking)
- Overhead Barbell Press 45 lbs (meh)
- Lat Pull-Down 70 lbs!!! (Yo, the trainer said, and I quote “You’re really strong for a tiny person”)
- Seated Row 75 lbs!! (Trainer just raised his eyebrows)
- Basketball toss 2/15 (TWO!! TWO!! I flunked that part of gym class. Nobody but me was impressed.)
Officially, I did not win. Unless there’s a trophy for being the slowest, I didn’t get the prize. At least three women did better than me. But I consider myself a real winner. Because I did it. I showed up. I showed myself. Just like when I jumped on the box, I didn’t let anything stop me. Even, no, especially, a sport with a ball.
The lesson here is twofold. First, if you’re feeling sick you should go to a doctor and find out what it is. Most likely it’s something treatable like mine, and not a rare combination of Parkinsons, Alzheimers, parasitic worm, tennis shoulder, brain aneurism, and heart arrhythmia.
And second, don’t let anything stop you from doing whatever it is that you want to do. If it’s fear, embarrassment, or some idea of the value of winning, try to let it go. Especially those delusions of needing to be the best all the time or not at all. There will always be someone faster, better, stronger than you. But there is only one you. Not needing to come out on top relieves so much pressure, trust me. It makes things happy and just for fun.
There’s truly something liberating about playing when you know you have NO chance of winning.
You know, even if you’re the slowest by at least a minute or maybe more like I was, you still will have done better than if you didn’t do it at all.
Go forth and suck, I say. And smile while you’re doing it.
x0x0x Mara Join me in the #CultofNice
photo credit: darkmatter via photopin cc