Since I received so many well wishes when I posted about my struggle with my non-stamina body and my quest to conquer it with the baby-step of getting a brown belt, I thought I'd give you an update.
First, brown belt: earned. What did I have to do? Seven different forms (a form is a choreographed series of moves that involve kicks, punches, blocks, etc.) which come up to 220 moves in total + mock sparring. I completed every form with only one bobbled kick. My yells did, however, sound progressively more like moans as the forms got longer and harder but I could still breathe at the end.
This was the sweetest belt I'd ever earned because it was significantly more demanding than the belt before.
Two days later, I competed at a regional tournament and got first place in my age group. Not a huge group but a nice pat on the back nevertheless.
Cloud nine. All of that.
Best case scenario: this successful attempt at a goal that had seemed out of reach would inspire a new goal and energize an on-going fitness routine.
Real case scenario: getting sick after all the excitement and extra strenuous work-outs.
The week after the Big Weekend of testing and tournament, I was still carried along by the leftover high and could excuse myself for feeling winded because of the sickness. But the couple of weeks after that, it felt as if I had never improved my endurance at all. I couldn't run for even two minutes, I was breathing hard on the elliptical on the usual settings, I couldn't finish doing all the forms.
Had I used up all the cumulative hard work in one testing and now had to start again? Or had the one week of being sick and not exercising canceled everything ? Or had I been carried merely on adrenaline and wishful thinking that could not be sustained?
TKD classes during those weeks were torturous. I kept having to take breaks. While everyone else in my sparring class was still bouncing on their feet and laughing during their third match, I had to sit down and remove all my gear because I was over-heated and my heart was leaping out. The worst came three weeks after the new session began. In the middle of practicing a new form, I got dizzy and landed right on my well-padded dorsal area. (Bonus for anyone who can tell me which character from a book I highlighted recently on my blog discovered the use of this term.) I just sat there, stunned, at how weak I felt. And then I felt angry and disappointment.
My instructor asked about my diet and hydration and told me to take it easy. My fellow students patted me on the back. I went out after class and got a large, blended, whole milk mocha and stewed for the rest of the afternoon. And stayed stewing and not exercising for a few days after that.
Then I got my sneakers back on and decided that if I couldn't run, I'd just walk. If I couldn't finish doing my forms, I'd just do however many I could. If my regular settings on the elliptical were too hard, I'd dial it back to minimal. I simply had to get back out on my feet and ignore the questions of why I felt so unconditioned and weak. Or if I would ever get anywhere. The only certainty I knew was that doing anything was better than doing nothing.
This week I am feeling better, although what I am able to do is far from what I had been able to do a month ago. Who knows why. It's frustrating but if I don't put a lid on "but I could do better before!" and keep moving forward, then the two months of working toward a goal I didn't think I could was just a fluke. And that is not acceptable.
I had started writing this post a week ago but couldn't finish it. I came back to it today because I'm stuck, stuck, STUCK on my current revision. The feeling is almost identical to what I felt few weeks ago. Writing this post has turned out to be therapeutic. Life sure has a way to using different experiences to teach us the same thing. And the thing I have to learn now is: don't give up; setbacks will happen; move forward no matter how I feel.
Tanita Davis posted a poem the other day with a line that I will tattoo on my mind:
That if you make the effort, you cannot fail.