(Hey, I don’t really think you’re a nerd, okay? That was just to get you to read. Don’t be insulted. Keep coming back. I love you. You’re my favorite.)

At the age of 37, someone called me an athlete for the first time in my life. Those little words, which probably didn’t mean nearly as much to the speaker as to me, changed the course of my life for the better.

How do you perceive yourself? Are you a book nerd? Are you a loner? Are you quiet and sweet, the good girl? The loud, party girl? Do you need to know what high school stereotype would fit you? Most likely you already know.

We all have perceptions of who we are. Often we base those stereotypes on who we were (or THOUGHT) we were in high school or younger. Maybe we base them on what we think others believe about us or what we’ve been repeatedly told. No matter how you got here, you have a perception of yourself. Is that perception limiting you?

My own perception definitely was limiting myself. I spent almost 40 years of my life thinking I was a quiet, smart girl who just didn’t really exercise. My quick foray into track as a kid led to a knee overuse injury that made me stop running…well, actually, I think the doctor said to take a quick break until it stopped hurting…but I stopped running until my 30s just in case. I played soccer in middle school, but only because my best friend did. We basically stood in the back where the ball never went. I played baseball for a whole season in which I basically stood in the back where the ball never went…

So when I started going to a fitness class with a friend when I was 37, I knew exactly who I was. A nice, kinda funny but mostly quiet person who was way out of shape and wouldn’t stick with this exercise thing. I mean, I’d try, but only because it was January.

Boot camp type fitness classes do allow you to stay within your own comfortable self-perception if you want to. I’ve gone to classes in which women stay in the back, continuing to complain about how hard it is, how much they don’t want to sweat, etc. Usually the classes are cheap without a huge commitment. It’s easy to show up, bitch a little, then stop coming. After all, it’s not really “your thing” if you’re one of those women, right?

It wasn’t my thing either. I knew that right away. I didn’t like all the running¹. I didn’t like the partnering with a stranger. I didn’t like feeling stupid when I didn’t know what I was doing².

What I did like was the weights. When we started incorporating weights into the workouts, I was thrilled. I started pushing myself to lift more and heavier. It felt great to use those muscles that frankly hadn’t had much use in a few…ever. And one day when I was lifting during class, my trainer called me an “athlete.”

What? Didn’t he know I wasn’t? I was more an Athletic Quitter, if that can be a thing. Athlete? Pshaw.

But maybe…Maybe I could be. I started lifting weights on my own. I started one-on-one training sessions with the trainer so I could focus on lifting heavier. Then I started paying attention to this fitness thing…reading about it for fun, talking about it incessantly, considering it…

And here I am, now making a go of it for my life. It’s amazing, and sometimes (daily) I do still hear a voice telling me that it’s not “my thing.” When I hear that voice, I choose to ignore it and keep pushing forward. I won’t be limited by whomever I thought I was.

What about you? How are you limiting yourself? Try today to move out of your comfort zone in just one small way. Be limitless!

Be awesome like these guys. And if you put on a mask, no one will know who you are…

¹Still true. Ugh, running.

²Also still true. I’d definitely rather know how to do things perfectly than feel stupid.

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