I learn a lot of Hebrew from the gym. In fact, my Hebrew vocabulary is overly represented by words for body parts. I know how to say “butt back!” ”elbows straight!” and “roll up vertebrae by vertebrae”, not to mention the ever useful “inhale” and “exhale”.
But sometimes I will hear a word and not know what it means. I catch it in my mind and repeat it over and over so that I can look it up when I get home. Case in point, last week after a Spinning class:
I burst in the door and confront the kids with the word I have been mentally repeating for an hour:
ME: What does “shiur smolet” mean?
KIDS: (snickering) There’s no such word.
ME: No, there is. I know it was “smolet” because I remembered that it was like “solet” (semolina) but with a “m”.
KIDS: No, Mom. You heard wrong AGAIN (rolling eyes). Context. How was it used?
ME: OK, so the teacher was describing the stages of the workout and said it wouldn’t be our usual interval workout, but rather a “shiur smolet”
KIDS: Ohhhhh. Not smolet, “sebolet!”
ME: OK, cool, what does that mean then?
KIDS: (shrugging) Can’t remember what it is in English.
ME: Nu, come on! We’re so close…
KIDS: It’s like when you have to work really hard without a break.
ME: Endurance. An endurance workout.
ME: But that’s funny, because it wasn’t very hard at all.
KIDS: (more eye rolling) That’s because it’s YOU!
And that got me thinking. They think I’m a bad-ass athlete. My kids. They think that. They see me heading out for runs, lifting weights, challenging them to sit-up and push-up contests, going to and from the gym, leaving behind a trail of sweaty, stinky gym clothes, heart rate monitor straps, ipods and headbands.
But am I such a bad-ass? And am I even an athlete? When did I start thinking of myself as such? When did I include the word “athlete” in my twitter profile?
I mean, let’s be truthful: I shy away from every group sport involving a ball. I couldn’t “catch” a ball to save my life. I literally flunked out of tennis camp (yes, it is possible). I throw a Frisbee like I’m flinging poo. I have a somewhat mushy body. I cannot do a single chin-up.
And yet, when I was looking today at a friend’s photos of the Tel Aviv Night Run which took place on November 11th, I thought “I should run that sometime. It looks fun. And it’s only a 10K. I can chew up and spit out a 10K for breakfast.”
When did THAT happen?
At some point along the way, I changed the story I think about myself. I changed “I am an unathletic loser who flunked out of tennis camp” to “I am an athlete.”
Well, hot diggity!
Guess what? You get to change your story too. What story do you currently tell about yourself that is no longer quite true? That you can’t lose weight or stick to a diet? That you don’t ever finish things you start? That you are not athletic, graceful, artistic, creative…? That you are ugly? Fat? Average? Nothing special?
For just a minute, try on a new story. I mean, can you know for sure that the old story is even still true? Maybe it’s not. Maybe you can write a new ending this time.
I didn’t even understand the word “endurance” in the above example. But because I think of myself as a bad-ass athlete, I listened to the Spinning teacher’s opening monologue with one thought in my head:
I don’t know what you’re saying but… Bring It.
Free your bad-ass athlete! Free your creative, beautiful, successful, see-it-through, winner self! See who you become when you change the story of who you think you are.