‘This I gotta see’ (by Dana McMahan)

jumprope

I’m a competitive person, probably to a fault. Board games, card games, grades, test scores, it doesn’t matter what — I play to win, I set the curve, I have to come out on top. But only in matters related to smarts. As the diminutive girl who started kindergarten at age 4 and never caught up in size to classmates I was NOT the kid you wanted on your team in any sport. Never coordinated, no knack for memory of physical activities, and by no stretch of the imagination strong, I crammed a scrapbook with scholastic achievements but didn’t need exactly need a trophy case for sports triumphs. I didn’t swim, run, play ball of any sort and only scraped through a year of cheerleading with the help of athletic cousins who never tired of practicing with me in the back yard as I struggled to learn the moves.

So when I announced on Facebook that I’m competing in, of all things, a power lifting meet, my mother replied, “This I gotta see.” And I have to say, this I gotta see too.

It seems almost ludicrous to consider. Who am I to think I can perform well enough to even be taken seriously? The food writer who refuses to follow the prescribed diet for building muscle, the nerd who will read volumes about power lifting technique in the weeks to come, the woman who wavers between the little thrill of being back in extra-small clothes and coach’s recommendation to put on some weight. Not to mention the novice that couldn’t do a chin-up or proper push-up not so long ago. Ben won’t even clear me to practice my bench press until I can improve my push-ups and I’ve only got six weeks til the big day.

But I’ve learned to trust in what Ben believes I can do, and to believe it myself. And while I’m far from strong enough today, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before and I’ll build on the confidence he has in me. “You can’t teach guts,” Ben says, and he sees that lightweight though I may be, there’s one monster drive inside that pushes me on and on. So we’ll find out just how far gumption and a new three-times-a-week program will get me. I can’t wait to see.

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