My Paradoxical Approach to Physical Activity


I’m not exactly a natural athlete.

As a kid, I despised team sports because my lack of ability made me feel like I was bringing everybody else down. I basically petitioned to get myself off my elementary school volleyball team, arguing that my grade had enough girls without me so I should be excused from the usually-mandatory sport. I was also “sick” for every track and field day from grade 6-8 to avoid the embarrassment of carrying around a wad of participation ribbons while (seemingly) every other kid proudly displayed their placement medals.

Side note: I’m pretty sure the idea behind participation trophies is to make everyone feel included and boost their self-esteem. Many worry that this is creating a generation of self-entitled little assholes who think they’re good at everything they do. I can’t speak for other kids but in my experience, it did the exact opposite. I still knew I sucked. Getting a ribbon didn’t make me suddenly forget that I was the last one across the finish line. It was more like a big, colourful reminder that I had lost and it certainly didn’t make me think I was capable of becoming some world-class runner. I don’t know why “kids nowadays” lack self-awareness, but I suspect it has to do with a lot more than some shitty little trophy they got in third grade.

Anyways, the point is that in my childhood I avoided anything remotely athletic like it was the plague.

But then as I got older, I had a problem. A lot of the things I wanted to do in life required a certain level of fitness. Hiking, learning to surf, cycling across Canada, trekking across the Sahara Desert (I’ve got big dreams people!) – none of this was going to happen if I did nothing but lay on my couch all day. Plus, as a young adult a certain amount of vanity played into it. When the freshman 15 snuck up on me and I couldn’t even button up jeans I had worn just the weekend before, I thought I’d better do something. So, I found the most solitary sports possible. I started working out, running and doing yoga. Things that can be completely non-competitive and done in the comfort of your own home.



Over the past 15 years, this commitment to fitness has ebbed and flowed. I never became a star athlete and have rarely obtained anything more than intermediate-level skills in any one activity. But I’ve trained for 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, I’ve followed programs to prepare for hiking trips, and I’ve gone through periods of uber-dedication to yoga.

I’ve also gone through periods where spending 5 minutes cleaning up dog poo in the backyard or going up and down the stairs to do laundry counted as “my workout” for the day (or week. or month). And this is pretty much where I’ve been at since our hiking trip last August.

So, a few days ago, I decided I would try to jumpstart workouts again. You would think I’d start with something relatively simple and ease my way into it. Instead, I chose a popular 3-week video program, the description for which claimed these workouts were for the “already fit.” I all but ignored this (I mean, really, I just did laundry the other day – that counts right?) and pushed play on Day 1.


The 30-minute workout went something like this:

00:30 – ok, this isn’t so bad, a nice easy warmup to start

01:47 – I’m supposed to do what with my what? By the time I figure out which leg to kick with and which arm to row with, we’ve moved on to the next exercise

03:55 – holy shit, how are my legs burning this much? I ditch the weights, and I’m not even 5 minutes in

10:12 – at what point do you call 911? I’m convinced I’m having a burpee-induced heart attack as I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be able to feel your heartbeat in your eyeballs

15:00 – ok, I’m already halfway through… F*ck me, I’m only halfway through

22:18 – are you kidding me dog? Always the opportunist, Juno takes advantage of the fact that I’m doubled over, pouring sweat, and gasping for air by standing directly in front of me, taking a big stretch, and letting out the loudest fart I’ve ever heard from her – a mere 3 inches from my face

30:00 – oh thank god, it’s over. I lay on the floor, letting my heartrate return to normal and waiting until I can feel my legs again before I try to get up


I’m not sure how someone can be so painfully aware of their physical limitations and, at the same time, believe they are capable of jumping right into the middle of an advanced workout program but that seems to be how my brain works.

Does anyone else do this to themselves? Or am I the only one?


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