First off, I would like to wish all the men out there a Happy Movember. Yes, it seems as though November has become the Month of the Man. In what other month can a man grow a mustache for a legitimate cause, deer hunt, play fantasy football, and celebrate a holiday involving eating delicious food while watching football simultaneously? Exactly. So to all my burly mountain men that are indulging in one or all of these things this month, Happy Movember!
Ever since I graduated college and have gained more time and money that comes with having a full time job and not attending school, I’ve been able to focus more on my health. When you leave the dietician’s nightmare that is college living, you start to realize that living off of instant mac and cheese and pizza rolls probably isn’t the best thing for your body. As soon as I moved to Miami, I instantly lost 5 lbs solely from not binge drinking 3 nights a week anymore. Looking back, I didn’t even realize my body changing as I was slowly gaining the freshman 15. As much as I miss many aspects of college, I could never go back to that. I was never obese by any means, and I would try to hit the gym at least 3 times a week, but I didn’t feel good. I was constantly getting sick, I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep, my allergy-induced asthma got worse to the point where I had to get an inhaler, and I was pudgy. Meaning that I was soft in spots that I didn’t want to be soft. I’ve never been one to critically analyze my body image, and was always confident and proud of myself, but I knew that something needed to change.
The past year and half here in Miami I’ve focused on revitalizing myself as a healthy human being, and am now able to do things I was never able to do before. I attend a variety of different types of yoga classes on a regular basis, weight lift and strength train with E at least once or twice a week, and run and bike constantly. It’s one thing seeing your body change, but it’s another thing realizing your ability to do things you’ve never been able to do before. Because of yoga, I can now do headstands, handstands, and arm balances that before was only a concept that I envied. Running 3 miles on average in one sitting turned into running 4 or 5 miles at a time. The progress I had made became evident, and it only made me want to push myself even further.
The Publix Escape to Miami Triathlon happens annually in September right across from my building. I had seen the set up happen when I first moved to Miami in 2012, and a brief urge to sign up fluttered through one ear and out the other, and then I pushed it out of my mind. Me, sign up for a triathlon? If I wanted to do something that made me look ridiculous I would’ve signed up for unlimited pole dancing classes (which, for the record, is extremely challenging. After taking a single pole dancing class for a friend’s birthday, I have a new found respect for strippers). Then came the year of 2013, the year of the new, healthy me. Although I wasn’t swimming on the reg, I was consistently running and biking during the week, sometimes doing both in one sitting. Swimming had always come naturally to me, since my mother enrolled me in swimming classes at an early age so that if she was ever drowning, I’d be able to jump in and save her. So after some self-convincing, I decided to sign up for the PEtoM triathlon. E had participated in a triathlon a couple year ago, and jumped on board immediately.
With some extensive training, new gear, and grueling bricks, we were ready for the big day. I cannot express to you how nervous I was that morning. A lot of thought goes into your first triathlon, especially when it comes to your transitions and whether or not you’ve set your station up in the most efficient way possible. Nonetheless, I just wanted it to be over with. Next thing you know, my wish was granted and it was over and done with, in the blink of an eye. Although I was running/biking/swimming for a total of about 2 hours, it felt like 5 minutes. The swim happened first, and I was slightly panicked with fellow athletes kicking me and grabbing my legs. So I breast-stroked until I was able to gather my composure and finish with a free-stroke. The bike was smooth, and the route had about 4 big hills in it which is a recipe for burning thighs. After the final transition, I was so tired that I was “jogging” at a snail’s pace to get my muscles used to the change. Around a quarter mile into the run, I was feeling surprisingly good. My endurance was kickin’, as well as my outlook. I can honestly say that after all was said and done, I probably would’ve been able to do it all again.
It was such an amazing experience and the feeling you get after completing a triathlon, or something that challenges you both mentally and physically, is a high that stoners only dream of. It’s the same high you get after conquering a yoga transition from eight-angle pose to koundinya (you’re going to have to start going to yoga to understand what this means), for example. When you accomplish something positive that you previously thought you could never do heightens your sense of self. It causes you to believe in yourself a little more than you did before, which is then applied to all other aspects of your life as well. So this November, I’m not going to ask you to complete a triathlon, but I am asking you to 11. Challenge yourself. When’s the last time you actually, wholeheartedly, “didn’t think I could do it but then I did” challenged yourself. Now’s the time. Not later, not in a couple years, but NOW. Remember this applies to any aspect of your life, from asking out that person you think may be way out of your league, to applying for that position you’ve had your eye on. Whether mentally, physically, or both, challenge makes you a better person, and everyone could use a little improvement now and then.