Not an athlete

I was in a Weight Watchers meeting this morning when I had one of those annoying “a-ha” moments. It wasn’t my normal, early Saturday morning meeting because I walk/jogged a 4 mile event to honor Pat Tillman, an American football player who quit the NFL to enlist in the Army after the events of September 11, 2001. I was feeling pretty good because I was down just over 5 pounds from two weeks prior when I weighed in and I gained weight the two weeks prior to that.

The meeting leader, Marie – who also leads my normal meeting, started the class off by recognizing two women who walked their first 5K event the week prior, then turned to me and asked what event I’d participated in earlier. I told her about the Tillman run and then she turned to the group and said, “I knew she’d been at an event this morning because Denise is so athletic – she even plans her vacations around different outdoor events she wants to participate in.” I couldn’t help myself: I laughed out loud.

Me, an athlete? The girl who was always picked last for every sport in Phys Ed in school? The one who has to find exceptionally flat routes to ride my bike because my legs are so weak that my bike barely moves at all when I have to go up a hill? I can’t even manage to run an entire 5K nor plank on my toes – I am hardly an athlete!

Marie saw my incredulity and said, “Why don’t you tell everyone why you’re laughing, and while you’re at it, tell them what you’ve accomplished since last February?” And I was instantly transported back 15 months in my head, to the day I started on Project: Happy/Healthy Me in earnest.

  • It was uncomfortable to walk 15 minutes on the treadmill at the gym even though my speed was so slow that I was able to read an electronic book at the same time
  • I hadn’t been on my bike in over a year
  • I drove my car everywhere and got angry with TCB if he ever dared suggest that we might walk to the nearby shopping center because I knew it was uphill from our house and I didn’t want to get sweaty

I shared a little of that with the class, then listed some of the things I’ve done since then:

  • Walk for 60 minutes most mornings, usually covering 3 miles, over a very hilly route
  • Finished a Sprint Duathlon last October, including a 12 mile bike ride sandwiched between two running sessions
  • Completed a 5K event every month, either in person or virtually
  • Started taking twice-weekly Pilates Reformer classes and progressed from being able to do approximately 25% of the moves without modification to doing about 70% as outlined by the instructor
  • Formed a walking group at work that covers 1-2 miles a day
  • Began taking the stairs at work, even when my destination is 4 floors above me
  • Choose a local shopping center to walk around every week with TCB
  • Carry reusable bags and walk to do all of our grocery shopping; we also walk to dinner every night

As I spoke I realized that, while I’ll never be at the front of the pack in any of the events I participate in, I can definitely be accurately described as a physically active person, and that feels amazing.

this is what active looks like
this is what active looks like

    Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Writer’s block can take many forms, but communication counts. Sometimes a brief blog can say more than a long one. Cover the points and write!


      Hi Bob,

      It used to be so simple for me to write here: open browser, think about my day, tap-tap-tap, hit “Publish” and done. Why it feels like that is no longer enough is beyond me and I’m striving for even a brief something a couple of times a week at this point, just to get back into the habit.

      Thanks for the visit and the encouragement!


    I love that picture. You can’t do duathlons and not call yourself an athlete. She was always in there; you just had to let her come out.


      Kay Lynn,

      An athlete is someone who is good at whatever physical endeavor they are competing in, whereas I am just glad when I manage to finish. Still and all, I’m certainly much more active than I used to be and I manage several chronic illnesses effectively with my daily activity, so I’m pretty content.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment!


    You may not remember me, I met you when you came to Memphis with TCB. You look like a different person! I am still a slug. Even health problems haven’t motivated me to change my slothful ways. But seeing your picture just might!


      Hi Lisa,

      Of course I remember you – how are you doing? I’ve changed things up a bit since Memphis but I still feel like the same person inside even if the outside looks different. The great thing about making a change is that you can do it any time you’re ready for it, just by making a decision and then taking one positive action in support of the change. Repeat that process over and over, and you end up making a permanent change for the better. (Or so I’ve found.)

      Thank you so much for the visit and the kind comment!