I am continuing my campaign for people to participate in Brave October and as part of that I am trying to push myself to be courageous. I am really skinny right now (seriously, I’m like all elbows and knees) but I am by no means in good shape. It has been probably two years since I exercised and more like 3 and 1/2 since I did so regularly. I have gotten cleared by my doctors to start working out again as I feel up to it (see A Brief Timeline of Crazy if you need to catch up on my many health issues) but with my severe anemia and exhaustion I have not felt like starting. Also I don’t wanna. I have never been one of those people who enjoys exercise- I strongly believe that running is only for when something big and snarling is chasing you.
And the truth is I have been frightened to start. I know I am not very strong right now and actually going to the gym seems completely daunting, and an exercise class is so intimidating- I feel like everyone will stare at me and think I am a huge wuss when I am gasping for breath every 5 minutes. Now, most people probably don’t really care what the person next to them in class is doing, but the reality doesn’t really matter-I have built this up in my head to a point where I am really anxious about it.
Full disclosure here so that no one thinks I am being sneaky and doing a puff piece review- about half my family is somehow involved in SpeedFlex, a workout facility that opened recently in Dallas. SpeedFlex is supposed to be “revolutionary” because it is a high intensity workout (you only do each exercise for 20 seconds) and there are no weights, just these cool machines that go off your own resistance. As my father has pointed out to me every time I said I was too weak or tired to go try it, the machines are even being used in clinical trials for chemo patients and in rehab facilities as well as with training for elite athletes. I still resisted because a) I’m really tired, b) I’m scared that I won’t be able to do it, and c) I don’t wanna.
Then came the Best Buddies SpeedFlex-a-thon this past Saturday. They did an all day workout event and for every calorie burned got sponsors to donate money to Best Buddies- they raised over $80,000 which is pretty incredible! I love this organization (more on that later) and I figured I can’t be all #BraveOctober and then not do it myself. So I put on my big girl yoga pants and started going in a few weeks ago to build up my strength to participate on my family’s team. The first time I went, I had to bail after 7 minutes, but I actually felt pretty good about myself afterward. And then I found that each time I could do more and more, and on Saturday, I did a whole 30 minute workout session and burned 347 calories! I felt great that I helped raise money for Best Buddies, excited that I was actually strong enough to get through it, and really proud of myself that I was brave enough to workout in front of so many people (the place was packed for the event.) I also felt a little annoyed because now my whole family gets to say “I told you so,” but that’s a separate issue.
The event was also eye opening for me in another way. If you are unfamiliar with Best Buddies, please click on that link and learn about them, it is an awesome organization. They pair people up (like a Big Brothers/Big Sisters thing) to help foster one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They start pairing buddies in middle school and continue through high school, college, and with adults. Having met and talked with a few of the Buddies on Saturday, I can absolutely see how much this program could enrich the lives of both the volunteers and the Buddies. I spent a lot of time talking to Jeremy, who is a Best Buddies ambassador, and has been with the program for about 12 years. He is interesting, articulate, and one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met- seriously his smile is the epitome of contagious!
Tyler was another Buddy who had worked out in an earlier session that day but stood to the side in the room when I was exercising. Every time I was feeling exhausted or like I wanted to quit, I would look over at him and he would wave and clap and cheer me on, which was almost as good as another B12 shot! I spoke to his mother and she told me how wonderful this program has been for him in the past few years. When he came over I bragged to his mom about how helpful his cheering was and his response was, “Yeah, I’m the man!” Yes, Tyler, yes you are!
The Best Buddies program to me is an embodiment of my idea of #BraveOctober. Sometimes just being yourself in a world where you are different is an incredibly courageous move. I hope my girls get involved with the program when they are old enough, because, as I have mentioned before, I believe that the best way to raise children who are open-minded is to introduce them at a young age to the fact that people have differences and those are not frightening, they’re beautiful. I want my kids to be brave enough to loudly stand up for someone with an intellectual or developmental disability because they know first hand what a great buddy that someone can be.