Years ago, as a college sophomore, I did something I had never done before.
I failed a class.
I’d taken statistics, and between my social life, my sorority and my sleep, I had little time left for another “s.” I recall showing up for class after a weeks long hiatus to find that my classmates were taking a test in a statistics program I apparently missed during one of my off weeks.
Though I knew it was coming, getting that grade in the mail made my heart drop. Last week, that same feeling came over me when I realized I’d failed the President’s Challenge, in which I was enrolled as part of Team IMCOM. In August, I declared my intentions; now, one week away from finishing my eight weeks of physical activity (30 minutes for at least 5 days a week), according to my computer, I’ve done nothing.
The problems began right away; The Monday I was to start the challenge, I was recovering (badly) from a nasty stomach bug and overdosed on Pepto Bismol, causing a trip to the on-post urgent care later that week.
“I have to run today,” I remember wailing to coworkers, “Or I’ll let the president down.”
I was only half joking.
The first week was a wash for gym-going, but I still got four of those five days complete by doing 30-minutes of housework, which is included as one of several activities from which participants can choose.
The next several weeks were a breeze. Between my 5K training and my gym training sessions with my husband, I easily made the five-day minimum. Those days I didn’t feel like hitting the gym, I corralled the family together for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. I had one other minor slip-up; between work, family and TV time, I couldn’t slip in that fifth day of activity one week. But still, I was on track to meeting the challenge goals and getting my President’s Challenge award patch.
But although I was hitting the gym three times a week and running the other two, I was getting consistently behind in logging my workouts. I put it off days at a time until, eventually, a week passed, then two. Last night, I finally propped my computer on my lap, clicked open my iCalendar and retraced my last two weeks of workouts. But – apparently – there is a 14 day limit on how long I had to log the workouts.
My computer screen showed – right there in black and white – that there was no way I would make my goal. “But I DID make it,” I whined to myself. I saw there was a reset button and clicked on it, thinking it would skip my two lost weeks and let me start fresh at week 6. Nope. It was gone; all of it. Each of the days I’d worked out, the last 6 weeks of workouts, were wiped clean. It’s as though I hadn’t done a dang thing. For a few moments, I stared at the blank charts, disappointment growing as I clicked tabs trying to regain my lost weeks.
But then I realized that whether I actually “won” anything was irrelevant. I HAD gotten out there and done more physical activity than I have in probably the last four years. I could run longer than 3 miles without stopping. I could do 10 pushups (at least!). And – most importantly – I could fit into those jeans that I hadn’t worn since my mom dropped me (and them) off at the airport in 2005. When I complained about letting the president down, my coworker assured me that the president didn’t want me to work out sick, he wanted me to be healthy.
And I am.