My whole life I’ve never thought of myself as athletic, or particularly physically active. But sometimes I see that reflected in my children, and I have to sort of do a double-take on my self-image.
Two of my four kids have really embraced the idea of an active lifestyle, and I love watching them. My daughter Trish is 26 years old and has an interesting hobby: doing headstands here, there and everywhere. Recently she traveled with me to Silver City, where she did them in the historic Murray Hotel, then later at White Sands and next to a giant pistachio in Alamogordo. This past weekend she did headstands at Cochiti Lake. She posts videos on social media of her efforts—along with super-sleek photos of success are her attempts in reaching that level, including falls and occasionally less-than-graceful tries.
I talked to Trish today about exercise, headstands and audacious goals, as she agreed to be interviewed for this column.
Trish was very shy as a child, even as a baby. She was the kid who peeked out from behind my skirt, different from her gregarious younger brother, who never met a stranger. Today she described her younger self as “don’t-look-at-me shy.” This once-shy girl now inspires people on social media with her athleticism and her amazing attitude.
Trish goes trail running near her home on South 14 a few times a week, with her goal being to run every other day, and to have more active days than inactive days. She does yoga but doesn’t attend classes, and she doesn’t like the gym. In spite of that, or maybe because of that, she has gotten visibly more fit (abs!) over the past six months to a year, and she’s visibly more confident, too.
It’s due to long-standing chronic pain that Trish decided to start moving. She has had joint pain for the past several years, but discovered that when she moves around, she feels better. “I like to move around in ways that feel good,” Trish said. “I know when I exercise and move around, I feel a big difference in my body. I feel a hundred times better.”
She changed her thinking from a more typical way of looking at diet and exercise by setting for herself a Big Hairy Audacious Goal—a phrase from her professional life working in a credit union. Her goal is to do “Jackie Chan pushups,” that is to say, vertical push-ups done from the starting position of a handstand. Yeah. She is a beast and I have no doubt she will accomplish this goal. The first step was learning to to a headstand, then to stay balanced while she moves her legs into various positions. As I mentioned before, she enjoys doing this in various places, taking photos. She said it’s being an exhibitionist—a term that as her mother I would not have used to describe Trish. At least not the girl she used to be. Now a strong and confident woman, I love watching her athletic exploits and I’m constantly inspired by her drive as she continually tests herself.
What I most love about this approach is that Trish set a goal which requires a pretty high level of physical fitness, but didn’t set a goal to exercise or get fit per se. She practices this goal, doing handstands, all the time, using it and running as a way to de-stress after work, and to meditate and tune into her body in the present moment. “The better you get, the more you want to do it,” she said.
That seems like a better way to get motivated than to view physical activity as an obligation or a hated chore we seek to avoid. I like the idea so much I’m trying to think of an audacious goal of my own.
My younger son likes to swim, hike and play tennis and is quick to say yes when his nephews want to play frisbee or tag. Actually all of them enjoy most physical activities.
Over the weekend all four of my kids, who range in age from 21 to 32, got together before the youngest heads off for the rest of the summer. They decided to go swimming—then after a short break for ice cream, to go roller skating. Mother’s Day included a rousing game of Monkey in the Middle with a Frisbee for most of them. They are all sore and sunburned as a result. The kids said they were looking to recapture some of the fun times of their childhood, and it really makes me happy that what that meant for them was physically active fun.
Yet somehow I still have this weird perception of myself as a sedentary slug. In fact, I’m pretty game and I like to try new things, like a rock climbing gym, archery, or paddleboard.
Trish’s advice: “Be in awe of what you can do right now.” Oh yeah, and remember to go do it.