Remember how, when Chris was traveling, I said I was planning, among other things, to join boot camp?

I had bought a Groupon for a month’s worth of classes, shortly before my vacation to Oregon, and had planned on starting when I returned. As it was, the location and time that I had chosen had a waiting list, and I was unable to start until about a week or so after Chris returned. So much for that. However, I had bought and paid for the class, so I still intended to go. Besides, it’s not exactly like I was missing out on quality time with Chris at 5:30am.

I was in pretty good shape. I work out every weekday before work. I had just hiked 10 miles in Western Oregon a few weeks before. I outpaced my 87lb-of-muscle Doberman/Greyhound mix in the Pine Bush only a week before. I was fit. I could totally hang. This was just something new and different to try, to kickstart my metabolism, which has been cruising in neutral for far too long.

Prior to starting, the owner added me to the mailing list, which sent along the occasional blog post, written by the various trainers. Some of them had some good information about nutrition and fitness – many things I already knew, and some things I did not. Other posts indicated that this program was going to be a lot more, um, intense than the average boot camp aerobics class at the local gym. Good lord, what HAVE I gotten myself into?

After the first day, I felt AWFUL. I was nauseous. My body felt like it had been put through the ringer. I remember wanting to crawl back into bed, under the covers, and not emerge for two days.

“How was it?” Chris asked me when I came back in.

“It SUCKED. I hate it. I hate boot camp.”

I felt like I reverted to 7th grade gym class, which I also hated, though not because I was in bad shape. I was – and still am, actually – completely uncoordinated and was a disaster at team sports. It was always somewhat embarrassing for me, as I had a cousin who was the high school’s star running back, another cousin who was the high school’s star pitcher, and a third cousin who is a modern dancer. Me? I couldn’t even run the mile in gym class in under 10 minutes without doubling over, let alone any sports that required any sort of athletic skill. It wasn’t until later in life I discovered that I actually was quite good at strength training and other individual pursuits (even though I would never be a strong runner – I’m a 5’2″ mesomorph, and people built like me usually are not strong runners).

I didn’t want to go back on Wednesday, and though I could barely move on Monday it was even worse Tuesday. I got an email from the owner (automatically generated) explaining DOMS. Yeah, yeah, I know what DOMS is, jerkface. That doesn’t change the fact that it feels like I have a thousand tiny knives piercing every muscle in my body. Eff off.

(Being in pain did not do very much good for my attitude.)

On Wednesday night, I picked a fight with Chris because I was sore and I was cranky and I really wanted to quit boot camp. Well, no. I’ll rephrase – 12-year-old Jen wanted to quit boot camp, and yell at Mom about how horrible it was and how I didn’t care if there were no refunds because it was just plain awful and PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK. Except Mom didn’t pay for it – *I* paid for it, and “Mom” was the nagging voice in my head urging me to stick it out.

Really, I was picking a fight with myself, of which my husband was the unfortunate recipient.

Unfortunately for me – 12-year-old me, that is – my husband didn’t react the same way as my mother would, or, for that matter, Practical “you paid for it already” Jen would. Instead, he reacted as the scholar-athlete he was in college.

“I don’t want you to quit because you don’t think you can do it,” he said. He didn’t care if I quit without getting a refund. He cared if I quit without giving it a fair shake. And, in this case, it wasn’t me giving boot camp a fair shake – it was me giving MYSELF a fair shake. Because he knew I was in good enough shape to get through this, if I could simply get through the first few days of hell.

So, I went back to Hell Camp (as I not-so-affectionately named it) on Friday. That following weekend was Labor Day, and Monday’s class was cancelled. So, I thought to myself, my muscles will get some much needed rest, and then it’s only two days to make it through. Then, I’ll have done two weeks. And, if I still hate it so much I can’t even stand it, well, at least I did 2 weeks of boot camp and it wasn’t a total waste.

Except, after Friday’s class – and mind you, I was still pretty sore from Monday and Wednesday – I didn’t quite hate it so much. If only I hadn’t been so sore, I thought to myself. I could have rocked XYZ exercise. Because that’s normally simple for me. It’s just like ABC exercise I’ve done before. Oh, and DEF exercise that I couldn’t perfect my form on? No matter what I did? Oh, not only was my form better than I thought it was, but it’s better still now. Go me and my planks. And my burpees. That’s right.

And, just like that, I started to like boot camp.

We’re a one-income household right now, and while I will be the first one to say that we are so much more fortunate than others in similar situations, things are tight. Discretionary income is limited, and it’s difficult for me to justify spending the money for a full boot camp membership. It’s my last week of boot camp, and I’m not sore anymore after the workouts. I feel like I’ve just – finally – hit my stride, and it’s already time to pack it in.

I don’t feel like it’s jumpstarted my metabolism anymore than anything else I’ve done (another reason I cannot really justify the cost of continuing), but it HAS taught me a lot about myself. I’ve stuck with things in the past for entirely the wrong reasons (i.e., I already paid for it and there wasn’t a refund, a.k.a., sunk costs), and I’ve subsequently found the courage to end things that were wrong for me, despite the sunk costs. But, in this case, I stuck with boot camp for the RIGHT reasons, and found I’m a more capable athlete than I give myself credit for, even if I can’t catch a baseball or dunk a basket. I can, however, sprint up the museum stairs, and a lot faster than I thought I could, and it’s not as hard as I thought it was.

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