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Push-Ups and Fat Jokes

I was presented with a challenge this morning before strength training.  My locker room friend, Becky, sorta laid it down for me.  (Okay, she’s not just a locker room friend. But honestly, we haven’t moved our ‘relationship’ out of the gym yet. #HintHint)

“No fat jokes during strength training today,” she said. “No fat jokes about YOU.”

“ALL session?” I said, wide-eyed.

Of course, last blog I mentioned how my trainer sort of called me out last week, saying I had more fat jokes than anyone he knew.  And that’s true.  I am hard on myself, and yet I am viciously protective of my daughter, my son and anything to do with the “F” word (no, the other one–F-A-T).  So obviously I don’t use fat jokes around the kids.

But she had a good point. I need to stop. I know that. And well, no time like the present.

I woke up in a foul mood. But tried to turn the day around.  Working out usually does that for me.

But then, man.  At training, I had a hard time cracking other, non-fat jokes. I crack jokes all the time. But at my own expense.  Today, I wasn’t funny. I don’t get all crazy about politics (or care to), so I was fresh out of those.

And since today, I wasn’t funny to myself or others.   I just put my head down and worked today. No jokes. None.


And I had a breakthrough.

A breakthrough that came in the form of push-ups. I’ve been dabbling in push-ups for a while.

I do about 100-125 (ah-hem) knee push-ups during upper body workouts (in sets).  I dabble in “real” push-ups, and that’s about it. Ooooone…. twoooooo… thhhhhhhreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…. Huff….  Puff.

Today, I did push-ups. One at a time with modified, non-impact-burpee-style stuff (b/c of the leg)… but one push-up after another, after another, after another.  For a total of 50, over four sets.

So, I guess I do push-ups now.  I’m one of those people who do push-ups.

Which is totally thrilling to me, by the way.

And maybe “everyone does push-ups” or “for the love, that’s like a given” – well, no it necessarily isn’t.  It’s like the one mile run in P.E. back 100 years ago–it was a given for many of the kids, but not particularly for me.

In this sport, it’s really easy to assume the “givens.”

But NOTHING is given in this sport.  When I started swimming, I just “knew” that I would be great at it–afterall, I was on swim team—IN FIRST GRADE.

Plllllbbbb….Cough, sputter, sputter… nope, apparently first grade swim team did not translate to a thirty-one year old triathlon swimming success.

And nevermind the first open water swim.…  [“I flashed to that scene from “Sex and the City” where Carrie tries on the wedding gown and immediately breaks out into hives and rips the wedding gown from her body, deciding that she can’t possibly get married.  I am deciding that I can’t possibly do triathlon, and I want to rip the freaking wetsuit from my body….”  ]

(Yeah, that day.)

But, there are no freebies in fitness.

Maybe you are gifted and smart and amazing at triathlon–and maybe you flew out of the womb running marathons. But I would say that most people didn’t–and most people have worked really hard to get to where they are.

Even push-ups.

I don’t know why people don’t want to admit where they came from…

  • Why there is shame in the beginning?
  • Why is there shame in being a work in progress?
  • Why does it hurt to admit that we aren’t necessarily at our destination–but we are working like hell to get there–and enjoying (really, relishing) in the journey?

I don’t see any shame in a journey. I think that’s where the story, the beauty, lies.


I haven’t been able to run in over eight weeks.

I ran myself into a stress fracture earlier in the year for many reasons… really, I had just been so excited with my new-found speed (relatively, speaking) that I ran and ran and ran, ignored recovery, ignored pain, and I put my body to the point of pain, and then pushed it further. Funny thing about the body, though. It will cry uncle. So, my body put the halt on that, and I am glad it did.  I learned a lot about the importance of listening to said body through this experience.

I realize when I am cleared to run that I have an entire road to pave back to running.  And cycling.  But, it doesn’t scare me.  And it also doesn’t matter if it does, either. At the end of the day, I started and I continue to swim, bike and run—simply, because it’s a good thing.  

I still work an actual job like many moms I know.  I am not feeding my family with triathlon, and probably never will unless some Powder-like miracle strikes me with lightning and I really am Rinny.  I feed my kids with my real job, combined with my husband’s job–also known as the working family–like most of you out there.  I take my kids to school, pack lunches, grocery, fold laundry (oh, just kidding. I don’t do that. I pile it in the living room and say, “Your clothes are cleeeeeean!”).  We shuttle to games and practices. We do homework and cook meals (sometimes hot dogs, and sometimes drive-thru on the way to a game, below), and pay bills and all those things.

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I do triathlon to add to the rest of my life–not take away from it.

And I can, without a doubt, say that I am 10000% better of a mom and person that I was six years ago, before I began this sport.  I am not perfect and I have messed up my life and my marriage and my kids more than I can even imagine, I am sure. Only time and therapy will tell. But I am thankful for the journey that this sport has so graciously shown me, and shown our family.



Our kids ride their bikes because they like to.  My daughter wants to do another tri this season because she loves it.

Our son? He does not love it, and therefore, he does not have to do it.  It’s totally up to him.

The Expert does triathlon because he likes it.  He’s not even an ounce immersed in the tri culture.  Triathlon is a sport, and that’s it to him.  He likes the competition and the process.

That’s the whole point of a journey–it’s yours. It’s not someone else’s.

Doing what makes you happy.  Learning about yourself.  Making an difference where you can. Taking care of people you love. Learning what works. Falling down, and getting back up.  Swimming, coughing, sputtering.


Sure, lots and lots of people “do” triathlon a helluva a lot better than me.

But at some point everyone started this sport, one day, one workout, one hypothetical push-up at a time. That’s all.  A little swim. A little bike. A little walk or jog or run or whatever you want to call it.

We all started somewhere–and we are all going somewhere, too–just depends on how determined, patient and kind we are (to ourselves and others) along the way.


Those simple truths just keep me going and going and going…  just without quite so many self-deprecating fat jokes, and more push-ups.




  • Kelsey

    April 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Yes,this. t’s a tough journey when everyone else wants to say you are not good enough. I am trying to find my brave., like you said at NOVA in your talk. #findmybrave. thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    April 28, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    You do Push-ups – real push-ups. Congrats!!! So far, I do knee push-ups & the kind in the little cardboard tube that I can lick. ( SBF didn’t totally fix me – work in progress). Thanks for sharing yours – inspiring!

  • cheryl

    April 28, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Love my pushups-keeps up my boobies and helps when I can’t get to the weight room. I yelled at a woman today making fun of her hips/butt. She is a strong cyclist-told her to be nice to herself and just get out there and do what you love and don’t worry about what you look like. After four decades of running/triathlon I find it kind of “weird” that women are still stuck in this same spot in 2016….

  • Jo

    April 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    So, I’m about 4 weeks into this triathlon journey. And I joined a club. Because otherwise I worried I might believe it was real. I might believe in me. And you know what, I was beating myself up because I was dead last in the run session I went to, and I have been better (but not much). But one of the ladies told me how well I did for my first session. And it reminded me, like this just has, that it doesn’t matter where you are on the road. So long as you’re on the road, and moving. So I guess I’ll just keep moving forward…

  • AMC

    April 29, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    You totally inspired me, and I DID IT! Real push-ups for me today with my burpees, and with my walk-out push-ups! I can’t do more than three real push-ups in a row, but surrounded by burpees I did over 50 of them! Thanks for making me believe I could do it.

  • Kathryn O.

    April 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I would say it’s pathetic to not be able to do pushups., but then I would be pathetic too. Each day is a journey – yes! And a journey to pushups is a good one as any.


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