The unexpected Kindness of Strangers
About a month ago I was feeling particularly down about where my life had been lately. I was thinking about turning fifty, and despite hearing "50 is the new 35", the pain in my knees and lower back sent another message altogether. I about the cost of changing my life, my habits, my habitual patters of exercise and eating, and even what I thought about on a regular basis, This seemed incredibly overwhelming-certainly more than my recent experience told me that I could handle.
Then, I thought about NOT changing. This did not seem like an option but I knew that I felt very alone with my struggles and for the first time in a while truly desperate for help. I've always sensed that in trying to overcome life's challenges and disappointments, we shouldn't be alone. It just has always felt unnatural and plain empty to try to make big changes alone,. But this was just how I really felt when I slowed down long enough to feel what was inside. Life had already robbed my family of too much. In the past couple of years we lost our precious twins Henry and Daniel, due to prematurity and a struggle for life on the NICU. I also nearly lost my dad to both cancer and heart disease. I reflected on the now ten years my precious mother died from the ravages of diabetes-exacerbated by her own stress and poor health choices( including being overweight and turning to fast food for comfort). Now I found myself 60 pounds overweight myself and battling my own health demons.
I went on the internet and started a search for individuals that that were in the healing business. But where to start? There were options ranging from talk therapy, energy healing to and of course, the promise of "easy weight losses through commercial weight loss programs endorsed by glamorous celebrities boasting their own success with multi-million dollar add campaigns whispering my name. Nothing felt authentic for me. I knew I had to find a way to reconnect with my inner warrior, the part of me that has always been there that doesn’t know that you can become "beaten down" in life, or feel like a statistic. The part of me that was there in childhood , before language skills developed- that sensed my connection with just about everything else (talk to a three year old to see what I mean).
I have always known that for me, my few real peak moments in life came when i experienced the joy of my body, of what it could do, how it could move and how it made me feel that "connection with just about everything else" when I moved it right. I think back to 1981, and to the Charles River basin. As a 19 year old kid, I laced up my addidas, walked out of my Beacon Street dorm, and ran like the wind around the river. My friends and I together forming a small bond of silent runners in flight. I remember that my mind was the most relaxed it had ever been, even while my body worked hard propelling me along the winding banks of the river.. That was 30 years ago and 60 pounds lighter. I had even heard the term chronic pain, nor tasted the bitterness of the loss of a loved one. I was just one of a small group of college aged friends moving together in what I remember as silent harmony. The only sound i can recall were the "high fives" when we collapsed on the grass after running those loops.
So I put "personal training" into my browser. A host of local trainers and gyms were sprawled across the page. What stood out was something called Vo2max fitness, which was familiar to me as I had remembered driving past its location and seeing the sign announcing its grand opening in Needham Center. I decided to write to Vo2maxfitness and ask about personal training for fitness and weight loss,. I also wrote to several other area fitness studios and gyms. What I remember liking about Vo2max was that it talked about addressing the WHOLE person. It talked about a new definition of fitness, one that prepared a person for the challenges of life. It didn't focus on losing 30 pounds in 30 days (um..not happening). It did focus on what it could feel and be like when your body is firing on all cylinders. I thought back to 1981 and my runs around the Charles with my BU buddies. that was (sadly) the last time I fired on any cylinders! I decided to write to Joe the fitness manager and tell him I needed his help. I wrote one short paragraph touching on my difficulties, including our loss of babies. A week or two later, I received a heartfelt email from Matthew Dupee, who is the owner of Vo2max fitness. He told me that when my email was forwarded to him he was immediately interested in helping me to regain my inner warrior (those are my words). He opened his heart and gorgeous new personal training studio, with the amazing top notch training staff free of charge! There is not anything in my life to compare to this act of sheer generosity in my recent or not so recent memory, My belief in the goodness of humanity was reawakened.