A few weeks ago, I voluntarily subjected myself to a fitness screening at the university where I recently found employment. I received a campus wide e-mail advertising the screenings, signed up quickly enough to avoid giving myself time to justify avoiding the offer (an attempt to follow through on the whole take-opportunities-for-self-betterment-as-they-come routine) and the next week was in a room with an Exercise Science grad student getting my pulse read.

The assessment was thorough. He took note of my height, weight, measurements (triceps, waist, hips, thighs), fat percentage via 3-caliper method, and resting heart rate. He then instructed me to get on a stationary bike and pedal while he slowly increased the resistance until I reached my pre-calculated optimal beats per minute, then charted how long it took me to recover. The whole assessment took about an hour. One week later, I went back for the results and to receive a personalized workout program based on my stated goals. I have to admit, I wasn’t really surprised by the assessment.

Survey says….

I’m pretty much average.

That’s right. Neither over nor underweight. Normal fat percentage for someone not considered active in the fitness spectrum (humph). Average BMI. Average vo2 max. Average stamina. Average ability. Workout plan intended for someone with average goals. If I were to get a grade, I suppose I would earn a C (sans grade inflation, of course).

Again, no surprise here. I do yoga fairly regularly, as all of you know, recently took up running now and then, kinda monitor my food intake (though the last week has been atrocious). Nothing I do would catapult me in one direction or the other. According to my current lifestyle, I’m looking at a lifetime of average.

And I’m not complaining.

I would say that I don’t mind averageness (yes, I am using a fake word). I have no ambitions for fitness glory or athletic prowess. While I do want to want to run, I have no longing to break the ribbon at a marathon. In fact, the first actual “race” I’m considering running is affectionally dubbed “5K-ish” because, really, it is a fun-mud-run. (I’m particularly looking forward to the prospect of jumping into a pool of mud at the end…) I don’t even know if they time the thing. I also don’t really care about my weight. I only ever vaguely know what a scale might read, and I’m only mildly cognizant of body fat levels and their impact.

I don’t say all this to come across as a braggart or give the impression of having achieved that ever sought self-contentment. I also don’t offer this window-into-me in a search for praise, false or otherwise. I offer all of this because, frankly, I don’t believe myself.

For some reason, I was a little bothered by my assessment results. Even though I had no reason to expect otherwise, I was a little deflated by being told what I already figured I knew. And I can say to your face without blinking that my disappointment didn’t stem from being told this information from someone else. I never have had issues with other people’s opinions, probably to a fault. (Just ask my college roommate turned sister-in-law. She lived through the worst manifestation of this trait. Yet, she still talks to me…Remarkable.) And it’s not that I would call myself a liar. I honestly expected to get the results I got, and honestly expected to be unfazed by said results.

Yet, here I sit, slightly bummed out. But I think this experience revealed something important, something necessary.

I started this year with a desire to find success with several, random goals. And so far I have. I have my official Skipper’s License (Licensed to Sail), am a certified yoga instructor working on my 200 hour RYT, and have recently fished out my Italian instruction stuffs.

But even all of these “successes” reveal a propensity for averageness.

I haven’t sailed since April, haven’t taught yoga since June, and am still wading in the sea of introductions in Italian. Even my pursuits into the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle are lukewarm at best. I watch the documentaries, do the research, get the cookbooks, remain convinced of the effectiveness of this lifestyle, preach plants, but am lucky if I maintain a plant-based program 50% of the time.

I shouldn’t be surprised, really, at all of these results. I still can only “kind of” play the piano despite “committing” to improving my skills since high school, am still limited to “Free Fallin'” on guitar, and have written all of one letter by hand since deciding to increase such correspondence several years ago. I haven’t even finished my degree. I’m still basking in the dimly lit glow of ABD-ness.

This is my pattern.

I don’t find much help in cliches like “find yourself,” but I do believe it is important to be reflective and seek out ways to improve oneself. It’s important to recognize patterns, weaknesses, habits that could be changed. I clearly have a tendency to commit, invest, pursue, then quit after achieving moderate success at best. I have an established pattern of comfortable averageness.

The problem with averageness is that there’s still enough accomplished to claim success, enough done to get by and, sometimes, get praised. Enough to require the energy exertion of a moderately paced walk. Just not enough to sweat. Averageness is like a comfortable, cable-knit sweater. Goes with most anything, can be dressed up or down. Classic enough to survive all seasons, but not conspicuously drab enough to require a makeover.

Moderately Successful Cable-knit Sweater

I’m not sure what to do with this realization or what it really means, but I do know that I have the option of following the fitness plan that grad student gave me two weeks ago (it’s current role is coffee table decoration with the occasional stint as drink coaster) and going back in three months for a follow-up assessment. I’m not sure what my goals are (I couldn’t really think of any in our first meeting), but I do know that I need to increase my self-discipline and force a better approach to, well, betterment. Though fitness may not be the most noble of goals, it is presently the most convenient since I didn’t even have to work out the plan for myself (see what I mean?).

I hesitate to state a firm commitment to meeting the second assessment goals. I know myself too well for that. But I’m throwing the possibility out there. I’d like to retire the sweater, or at least trade it in for something a little nicer, something that maybe only goes with heels.

~Arrivederci

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