thanksgiving 11 - 13


I’m in the third week of boot camp, counting the days till it’s over and till I can be just a regular girl going to a regular gym at a regular time of day. This 5:00 a.m. business is really hard. I’m quite tired these days. God is good to me and I have many many things that I’m thankful for and that give me joy day in and day out.

11. I’m very thankful for my job. I couldn’t have found a better job had I tried. The hours are superb for me, the location is superb, my office is superb, what I do is ok. Sometimes I think my employer can’t justify my position and fear the position will be terminated. I hope not but I don’t take it for granted.

12. Boot camp is almost over -- I count the mornings every day. Hang on till next Friday, Val. Hang on. My friend Elaine is doing this with me and I’m thankful for that too. It makes it easier knowing she’s expecting me to pick her up at 5:15. I’m tired, but it’s a good kind of tired. The desire to do this is a God thing and I know it. For several years I’ve prayed that God would change me from the inside out; that He’d change my desires and make me want to exercise. I’m incredibly grateful that He has answered that prayer.

13. I’m very thankful for the quiet time that is built into my day every work day. After dropping the girls off at school, I have one hour before I start work. I go to a park down the road from Debs’ school and that is my prayer and Bible reading time. It works perfectly for me. That part of my day is another reason I love my job as different work hours wouldn’t work so well for this element of my day.


boot camp, round 2


This morning at 5:00 I started month 2 of physical-fitness boot camp. Although I'm the only one in this class that's a second-timer, I'm still the most overweight and out-of-shape. Sigh. (I get the distinct impression boot camp is not a favored past time for fat folks).

My friend Elaine is boot camping with me this month. Right off the bat this morning she pulled something in her leg and from that moment on she was the class grunter. I was happy to surrender the title.

Someone said, I think it was Anais Nin, that we see the world as we are, not as the world is. As I was driving home this morning I thought about my first day of boot camp last month. It was so hard for me; I thought I might die -- literally. It was hard this morning too, but not once did I think I was closing in on death.

When I got home, Gordon greeted me by sweetly (and proudly, he's proud of me for all this effort) asking, "How are you doing?" I was pleased to be able to reply, "I'm a whole lot better than I was this time last month."

After a shower I fell back into bed and slept another 45 minutes. The first day last month, I nearly slept the whole day.

My point? I realized this morning that last month I went on and on about how hard boot camp was. Experiencing it freshly again this morning, I realized with clarity that the problem isn't how hard boot camp is, rather how out of shape I am. I spent the month seeing the world (boot camp) as I am, not how it (boot camp) is. I can't say I'll enjoy it, but again, I know I'll be a better and more fit person having done it.

Again, my goal is to finish the month without missing any sessions.


lessons from boot camp


I am extremely happy to report that I finished a month-long boot camp this morning. My last exercise was carrying a 20 pound bag of sand while I ran and then pulling a truck tire from one end of the field and back. As I briefly recuperated afterward, several congratulated me on finishing the month. Everyone knew it had been hard for me. I was the sound effects for the group. "Uuuugghhh," was my common anguished cry.

This morning my mates told me they couldn't believe I came back for the second day. "I knew on that first day I'd never see you again," one said. Well I surprised them and never missed a day. They said I had grit.

There is more than the finishing boot camp thing that I'm proud of. It's big to me that I never missed a day. Every morning was a spiritual exercise to make myself go. Early in dragon boat season, I had an epiphany about how it was ingrained in me to quit hard things. I have a history of quitting things if I was no good, it was too hard, I was too embarrassed to be bad at it, it was too inconvenient, . . . When I had that realization early in the dragon boat season (you may recall how hard I thought it was), I knew it was a spiritual problem and I committed to finish the season if it killed me. Thankfully I learned to love it.

The same thing happened with boot camp. It was brutal, but I knew I'd be an internally stronger and better person if I finished. I committed to not miss a day and I didn't.

I learned that no matter how I hate the front end of it, (getting up at 4:55 a.m. isn't my cup of tea), or how I think "I can't take another step" during the middle of it, I always felt happy that I'd done it afterward. I was always thankful that I got out of bed and that I kept going even when I thought I literally couldn't do one more step.

I learned that striving toward getting fit is a boost in and of itself. I can't tell I look one iota different than I did when I started, but I feel better about myself. I lost a whopping 2.5 pounds. Having lost 2.5 pounds doesn't sound grand, but  I'm a better person, a more disciplined person, a more fit person from the inside out, and I'm not talking just physically.

I learned that sticking with something that is hard and that you'd rather not stick to has far reaching effects. Gordon and I were asked to do a skit at church. Let me assure you that I am no drama queen. I have a history of freezing up in front of people. I have always been content to leave theatrics to my sister, Stacie. I wished I could "act" but knew I never would.

When I was asked to be the bag lady in a skit, the first shock was that I said OK. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd willingly participate in a skit, and my part was a significant one. I said yes, and as soon as I gave it some thought, I knew that the willingness to try was directly related to dragon boating and boot camp. From both dragon boating and boot camp I had learned and was continuing to learn that the experience is worth something even if I'm a total wash up at it.

The day we did our skit, I wasn't too terribly nervous. You have to know me to know how big that is. Once I got going, I wasn't nervous at all. I was able to tap into acting skills I didn't know I had. Quite simply, I was a great bag lady. Everyone thought I was a born actress (or a born bag lady). They had no idea how far out of my comfort zone I was. I can't explain it, but I know it's related to both dragon boating and boot camp.

Another lesson from boot camp; I learned that I actually like the active life. I like physical activity. I was humiliated quite terribly in sports as a youth and have lived all my life knowing I couldn't do a blasted thing in the sports and physical fitness areas. Well, it was all a lie and I learned it at 42 years of age. I am not the best, but I can do it and have fun.

I've enrolled in another boot camp. I'm dreading it. It starts Monday and it's a repeat of what I've just completed. 

I've learned a lot this month. It was long, terrible, hard and I'm glad it was long, terrible, and hard and that I can say "I did it!".


boot camp


Friday I finished my first week of boot camp. It was hard. I am much much worse than the other women. They are younger, thinner, and fitter. Being the worst is a humbling position to be in -- definitely not my preferred spot in the food chain. I'm always last to finish every exercise. My teammates can't stop their drill until I've completed mine. No one is ever allowed down time, everyone is constantly working.

We had a drill on Friday where we ran to the first pylon then back to the starting line, did ten push ups then ran to the second pylon, ran back to the starting line, did ten push ups, then ran back to the third pylon. . . Since I was last and everyone was far ahead of me, they had to keep doing push ups as I dragged up the rear. It's humiliating enough just being last. The pressure is steep to hurry. I was on my eighth push up in my last set and thought I couldn't do another one. They were yelling at me, not angry yells, more like begging and encouraging mixed. Evidently someone in the group slacked off because I heard the instructor bark, "You can't stop until Valerie has finished her set."

Being the worst is hard (and embarrassing) but being them is equally hard.

I was basking in finishing my first week at the end of class on Friday. In this context, "basking" resembles laying on my back looking like very big road-kill but on the inside there's a smile. Instructor quickly ruined my revelry by saying that Monday will be a hard day, our hardest yet. That wasn't how I wanted to end the week. 

As I was running on Friday the sweat was dripping off me as if it was pouring rain. Rivulets ran down my face and my clothes were soaking. I can't imagine it getting harder. 


boot camp day 2


It only hurts when I breathe. If I lie like a corpse everything feels fine.

I've been reading 1 Peter and meditating on 5:12, "The grace of God is with you no matter what happens."

This morning as I ran around the field at 5:30, thinking I might be leaving this world at any moment to receive my eternal reward, I kept chanting this verse (in my head of course, God knows I hadn't the breath to really speak it). Maybe I'm about to die, but the grace of God is with me no matter what happens.

The grace of God carried me through. It was harder today. We doubled the running time and we did all the same exercises as Monday, except we added three more sets of each and got to hold weights as we did them.

You should check out a boot camp. Fun, fun, fun. 


about boot camp


Let me tell you about Boot Camp. First let me say I have marbles for brains. The words "boot camp" conjure up ideas of pain, yelling, exhaustion, and other equally charming words. (Insert, "Valerie, what were you thinking?")

There is this torturous boot camp called Soldiers of Fitness (SOF). I wanted to do it because I thought that would really be impressive. I have a very, very fit girlfriend who was training for a marathon in the river valley. As she trained, Soldiers of Fitness ran past her and they were carrying logs. Refreshing, totally refreshing. I guess it was my pride talking that made me want to do SOF. After all, how often do you see people running in the river valley carrying logs. I thought being able to do this would prove that I was fit and people would oohh and awhh and say, "That Valerie, is she ever amazing?" Yes, it was pride.

Darling Gordon looked at the brochure and knew intuitively that I was NOT in good enough shape for SOF. (That really wasn't rocket science, he was just a step ahead of me.) Anyway, once hearing that I probably wasn't fit enough for SOF, (I heard it from several sources) I started checking out other boot camps.

At 5:00 this morning I hauled myself out of bed and went to an empty field in the cold black night. I was the least fit person there, by a long shot. And the instructor punished the whole group for one person's (read: MY) mess-ups. For example, during the plank, I let my stomach touch the ground and the instructor yelled, "We're starting over. I saw a stomach touch the ground." This is all for the building of team-work. "It's all about team-work. We don't leave anybody behind," she barked as though we were in the Vietnam jungle trying to get to the helicopter.

I was pathetic. Totally, pitifully, pathetic. I honestly think some of my badness can be attributed to the early hour. I was nauseous from the first "10-minute run to get the heart rate up." There were no breaks, just three or four 10-second drink breaks, which I thought was a commendably virtuous act of generosity. By the same token I was afraid to drink because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. I never did, but I wanted to because I put on quite a show when I throw up. I know I would have gotten a break had I started the vomiting business. Alas, it stayed down.

I can't stress enough just how poorly I did. As daylight broke and class ended, I wanted to stay lying in the field. My team mates were very nice to me telling me they couldn't do it the first time either. That's where I learned there was some repeat campers. They encouraged me with, "it gets easier."

I sure hope so. It's going to be a LOOOOOOONG month if it doesn't. I came home and crawled back in bed and have pretty much been there all day, just getting up occasionally to take more Advil.