looking the part

We spent the weekend doing some initial exploring of the area we’re in. We went to Target, to a shopping centre, to Fort Myers beach and the pier there, to downtown historical Fort Myers, and we even got to church on Sunday morning.

Having figured out that “entertainment” here generally comes under one of two forms – eating or shopping – we headed out to an outlet shopping centre on Sunday afternoon to see what we could find.

Aside from converse shoes (my friend Marissa is so proud of me coz she lives in her converse shoes…) most of our money was spent of sports gear. I bought new running trainers, shorts and t-shirt – some special material that is supposed to keep the sweat away from your body. This may well surprise you, if you know how generally un-sporty I am.

It may surprise you more to hear that in our first five days here we have gone running three times. I KNOW!

Jet lag is helping somewhat, since we are still waking up early (6.50am this morning) and the early morning seems to be the only time of day when it is remotely the temperature or humidity that you’d want to think about running in. We live on a small golf course (I KNOW!) and have figured out that the road that loops around the edge is about 1.45km, so we’ve been doing two laps. Rasmus is threatening me with three already and I told him I was allowed to pull the “humidity” card for at least another week.

The thing is, I still don’t like running. I get a great deal of satisfaction when I’m finished – sometimes only about an hour after because my lungs so feel like they’re about to explode immediately after that it doesn’t yet feel like a victory. I joke that exercise is the only thing I will high five over (I hate high fiving) and I do feel good to have finished.

But never having been particularly sporty, and always having a lot of family and friends who were much better than I was, it feels good to finish because it means I started. And starting is the hardest part for me.

Which is why my shopping trip yesterday was so important. Last winter, Rasmus and I joined a gym. It didn’t last too long because the inconvenience of getting ready, walking over in the rain/snow/fog to work out and then the hassle of showering and the awkwardness of changing rooms… but we went for a few months. The first few weeks I was there in ancient jogging bottoms, dirty trainers and an old t-shirt that I had previously used as pyjamas. In that shiny gym full of mirrors and scales, I was completely intimidated. I had never been in a gym in my life before, and I thought I didn’t belong.

A week or two in, I went shopping. I bought proper trainers, and clothes designed for working out. The first day we went back after my purchases, I looked the part. I had the outfit. And suddenly exercising was much much easier. Yeah, I still was sweaty and red and unfit. But I felt like I had a right to be there, I could embrace my desire to get fit without feeling embarrassed by it.

I am sure that most of the other people in that gym never noticed what I wore, either before or after. It wasn’t so much about other people’s judgements or expectations. It was about telling myself I could do this. And the outfit was important.

Have you heard that phrase, you should dress for the job you want rather than the job you have? So OK, I can think of some funny situations where you should avoid doing that, but generally it is true. My feelings tend to catch up later than my thoughts. I tell myself I can do something, but I still feel afraid, intimidated, unprepared. I wear the right thing, and it helps me play the part until my confidence catches up.

So if you happen past our golf course early one morning this week, you’ll see me looking quite the part. I’ll still probably be feeling a bit too overweight, unfit, lobster red and I will hate hate hate the way my thighs jiggle when I run. But I’ll be a little more confident of my ability to get around the loop that third time when Rasmus says “one more?” and the clothes will be a big part of it.