WASHING YOUR LEGS: HALLOWEEN EDITION
By: Lauren Anderson
It’s my favorite holiday of the year, and I hope you have a great one too–if you celebrate.
If not, Happy Tuesday!
Every year for as long as I can remember, my mom would make a huge pot of chilli on Halloween and open up the doors of our home. Neighbors and friends and family would stop by in a true honest-to-goodness midwest open house. It was awesome. I loved it. You could dress up, or not. Swing by for a minute, or stay for the night. It was easy and open and celebratory and fun.
As I got older, all my teenage friends would even stop by the house. We would fuel up on grub before went about our shenanigans. It was just what we did. It was a given. Like the changing seasons or unwanted chin hair.
“Let’s start at Lauren’s mom’s house, and then go to the party/ hang out by the train tracks/ whatever”.
You know, teenager stuff.
It wasn’t until college and beyond that I shared this happy memory with people, and the overwhelming response I got was “Really?”
And I was like, “Yeah. None of you do anything like that?”
And the response was usually somewhere in the vicinity of, “Hell no. No one wanted to hang out with my parents. No matter how much free chilli they offered.”
I always thought that was kinda sad, but then I remembered that I’m pretty lucky to have cool parents, one of whom happens to make killer chilli and loves to host.
But then it got me thinking– You grow up a certain way, and it’s really easy to assume that the way you grew up is the right way or ONLY way to do things. No matter how healthy the “thing” may be for you in the long run. If it’s the way you learned it, chances are that’s the way you think it should be. For better or for worse.
And it isn’t until we venture out into the great world beyond that we realize there are as many variations on doing–just about anything– as there are people in the world.
It’s like that ol’ saying, “If you can think it, there’s probably a porn version of it.”
Or like the other day…
I’m hanging out with a group of friends, and our conversation circles around to shower rituals/habits. You know, like you do… It’s my turn, and I go through my list: Shampoo, then rinse. Put in conditioner, leave it on, and then do everything else. Wash my face, shave, then wash my body. Legs last, then I rinse my conditioner. Pretty standard right? OR SO I THOUGHT.
My friend goes, “You wash your legs?! Hahaha! That’s so funny. I never do.”
I was like, “WhatdoyoumeanyoudontWASHYOURLEGS?!?!??!?!”
And they say, “Yeah, I just wash the top half, and the soapy water gets everything from the past the genitals down.” I’m laughing, but I’m kinda still like Whaaaaaaaaaa?.
They said it as if it were the most natural thing in the world to not wash your legs. I listen but remain astonished. At least they never neglected the swimsuit area.
But lo and behold, a few days later, I was binge-watching some episodes of “You’re the Worst” on FX… and they had a joke about not washing your legs in the shower too! On TV! Like it’s a thing that lots of people do!
WHAT IS HAPPENING? Can this be? What would a shower like that be like? I guess it never occurred to me there was a portion of the shower-taking population that didn’t wash their legs.
No judgement. I mean “It all evens out in the wash” right? RIGHT?
And what works for some would not work for all. Like taking a shower in the first place– some people need to shower twice a day to stay clean. But if I did that, my skin would flip me the bird, and promptly fall off my body.
We are the balance of our family, genetics, education, environment, and scope of experience.
But it started to make me think about individual point of view in terms of fitness too. Generally speaking, we workout and approach food the way were taught to do it. For better of for worse. And if things come easily and are fun– we do it more. It not–we stop.
Just like hosting a chilli party, or washing your legs.
Which brings me to one of the most potent conversations I’ve ever had with a person about fitness.
It was a few months ago, and I was chatting with another athlete at a Solcana event. He said he liked reading my blog. This made me happy to hear because this particular athlete is in the morning crew at 5:30 am– something I have yet to try and attempt– and I really never see him.
In fact, he tells me he’s been reading it every week. I was honored. And then he said, “It’s really good for someone like me to hear another perspective on working out.”
This caught my attention. “Go on…” I say, intrigued. I quickly add, “What do you mean?”
He extrapolates, “I’ve always been pretty fit, never really carried any excess weight or anything like that in my life.” He was humble and self-effacing when he said this, so I managed to be able to listen in earnest and not get my eyes stuck in the back of my head from rolling them too hard.
He continues, “ And sports and anything athletic pretty much always came easy to me.”
At this point I can’t help it– my eyes widen in disbelief. I manage to say. “So what’s your magic life like?”
He laughs and continues, “Yeah, I played pretty much every sport growing up. And not only did I play, I was fortunately pretty good at most of the things I tried. So, your blog really opened my eyes. It’s making me wish I was more empathetic when I was younger.”
Now I’m really interested. “Oh yeah? What do you mean?” I’m liking where this is going. I want to dive deeper. He indulges me.
“Well, because all that stuff came so easy, it wasn’t until I started reading your blog that I realized that most people don’t have the same happy experience with the gym, or their bodies. When I was younger, I’d be like, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just the gym. What are people afraid of?’”
I’m still listening. He goes on.
“It never occurred to me that it might be hard to get to the gym. For me, it’s just– I wake up and do it. 5 times a week. I don’t even think about it. It’s just what I do. It’s what I’ve always done.”
WOW. At this point I’m staring. Like you would gawk at an extra-terrestrial dropping off your CSA.
He continues, “My dad was active, so we were always working on a sport. Then when I got to high school and played on teams, we’d work out before class, and then again at practice after school.”
The theatre kid in me is nodding. Yeeeeeeessss. I seem to recall some kids doing that. I however, was too busy skipping gym class to notice. Sometimes I would use that free period to make my mouth numb with Anbesol, and read my friends the really really bad poetry I’d written to get a laugh.
You know, basically the same thing.
And then he says this, “I can’t imagine heading back to the gym week after week having to learn even the basics–like running and burpees and stuff. With a body that you may not consider a friend. I think you’re courageous. And I gotta say, I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t think I could do what you do. I have trouble doing anything I’m not good at.”
I am speechless. For two reasons. One, I also have trouble doing things I’m not good at. Which is partly what has made my fitness journey so utterly life-changing, and why I’ve waited so long to start. It is a strange thing to willingly humble yourself week after week.
The second? His frame of reference NEVER OCCURRED TO ME EITHER.
This whole time, I just assumed that most people struggle with getting their butts to the gym, and most people were on a pretty serious learning curve. Because that’s been my scope.
And then there’s this guy. Not only does he not have that in him, but he seems to never have experienced anything like it. In his entire life. No real food issues, athletically inclined, No pressing guilt for not showing up, because he ALWAYS just shows up.
And to top that off, Mr. Worldwide Sports is telling me he thinks I’m the courageous one. And it’s not in a participation-trophy-you-can-do-it-kid kind of way. He’s being real. He sees me.
And we look at each other and we know we’re very different people. But suddenly I can see him a little better too. I am grateful for his patience and empathy. Even if it came later in his life. I’m grateful for his perspective too. I forget, not everyone is exactly like me.
He looks at me and doesn’t see just a mountain that I have to move in my quest to become a better athlete. He sees a woman with a little bit of courage and a lot of help trying to accomplish something really hard. And he remembers not everyone is like him either.
And then he says to me, “I wish everyone that’s ever felt like you do, about their bodies and working out could come to Solcana. I want them to experience a different way to feel at the gym. And I want every person that’s like me to work out right beside them, and get an education about what real strength can look like. That’s what I want.”
I smiled and nodded. We may be very different people with very different experiences, but in that moment, we were on the exact same page.
Cause that’s what I want too.
I also want people to try my mom’s chilli, and wash their damn legs…
But hey, one outta the three ain’t bad.