We need a sports league for fat fortysometings

Wednesday Weigh In numbers first: 213.2, fat %= 46.3. Down point 8.

I know I'm in the minority here; I actually love the exercising part of losing weight. You hear all these tips on how to get motivated, how to move more doing things you enjoy, I blow these off because moving more is NOT my problem. (In fact, one of my problems is thinking that all the exercise I get somehow negates the fact that I still have to eat better). You could almost say that if not for my fat, I'd be a jockette. Except for one thing: I love playing most sports, I just suck at them. I'm uncoordinated.

I *love* playing basketball. I'm a damn good guard, but I can't shoot for shit. I'm good at the free throw line, and I probably hit more 3s (and that's college 3s, not NBA 3s) than most of my friends, but I can't remember the last time I successfully sank a layup. It's really embarassing.

I remembered how much I loved soccer while playing the adults-vs-kids soccer game last month. Back when I was a kid, soccer wasn't at all huge here in the USA. In fact, I suspected that it was actually a game made up by gym teachers because football was too complex and violent to teach us. I mean, what's with the no-hands rule? That sounds like something a gym teacher would come up with, just like that game you played on those little 4 wheeled scooters and the giant rubber ball. Wait, the greatest athlete in the world, Pele, plays soccer? It's really a game? Cool! I love soccer. Wait a second, I just remembered. I suck at soccer. I'm a lousy goalie, I can't remember the last time I scored a goal, but like basketball, I'm a damn good guard.

Love softball. Where I grew up, in Country Club Hills, IL, there was a girls' softball league that was huge. Huge, I tell you. I don't think boys' little league came close to rivaling it. On Tuesday and Thursday nights in the spring and summer, ALL the city parks with ballfields in them belonged to the girls. At the end of the summer, CCHills sponsored a huge softball tournament with something like 32 teams from all over the Chicago south burbs, and the girls from CCH who were on the all-star team for this tournament might as well have been royalty. The fact of the matter was if you were a girl in CCHills and you didn't play softball, there was something wrong with you. The jockettes played softball. The cheerleaders played softball. The brains and geeks played softball. Even the chain-smoking rough girls with their slut blue eyeshadow played in the CCH Girls' Softball League. I played catcher and right field. (Translation: I sucked.) I was such a crappy fielder that they tried to get me to pitch. Even though this was slow pitch, I had difficulty with this. I could bat OK, and as catcher I actually picked a few leadoffs off first. (Probably because it never occurred to a runner that such a lousy catcher would even attempt to pick them off). I'm reluctant to call our coaches "coaches." They were more managers, rattling off a batting order and passing out schedules. We'd practice, and here's the brilliant advice I would get: "Veronica, just hit the ball." Yeah, OK, "Coach," thank you for that keen insight as to what's wrong with my technique. (This reminds me of Jim Bouton's pitching coach in Ball Four, who would advise Bouton: "Throw strikes." Yeah, OK, Sal.)

The problem with team sports as exercise is that, especially if you’re a woman in your 40s like me, is that as kids, we were just getting to the very beginning of a generation where girls besides naturally talented jockettes were given any kind of instruction or coaching to not suck as bad as we do. (Title IX was passed in 1972, took a little (!) longer for non-jockette girls to realize that sports were cool, and for the educational marketplace to catch up to this concept.) As a result, because we're so crummy, and nobody every worked with us just to get up to a tolerable skill level, we loathe participating in the sport. Who wants to do something that you're crummy at? I could push through it and play, because I just naturally love the sport -- especially basketball. (In fact, in basketball, the lousier a shot you are, the better the aerobic workout!) But overall, I can see why a lot of women my age and older eschew team sports as their exercise. Not only were we not that good (or ever given decent coaching or instruction) to begin with, now we're old, we're out of shape, and a lot of us are downright fat.

So I've hit the gym in pursuit of exercising, and I've found a zen in that. I've always loved riding my bike from the time I was a little kid, with my flower power banana seat bike, to my first ten speed, to the various bikes I've had in my life. Cross country running: throw on some headphones, get some decent shoes, and go. No strategy or major coordination here. Weightlifting: now this is outright zen. But I do so miss getting more of a chance to play some team sports, and the social interaction and the friendly competitiveness that goes with them. You also get a decent workout playing soccer, because you're concentrating so much on the game that you forget you've been running back and forth across a field for 45 minutes. (My quadreceps, however, later reminded me of this fact the day after that parent-vs-the-kids game). But it was so sad that they had to almost beg the parents to play, instead of getting up off the folding chairs and mutter something about "Oh, I can't play this, I'm too old/out of shape/lousy." I'd joked that "Yeah, they don't really have a league for fat fortysomethings, do they?"

We need a league for fat forthsomethings. I would play in it in a minute. But with the whole competitive nature of sports, its so hard to re-teach people that the primary thing is FUN, not winning or showing off your mind blowing skills all the time. When I first started working out at a gym, yes, I was a bit self-conscious going into that weight room filled with hard bodies, what with my abdominal flap (thank you mo pie, for actually naming yours "flappy") and my spaghetti stirring arms flapping about. After a while, though, you just go into your own little world soundtracked by your walkman (GWTP, V'ron, that's IPOD now!), and you don't (at least I don't) care what people think. Its been so long since I've cared, I admit having difficulty understanding what the big deal for newbies is. But then I'm hip to that apprehension when I step onto a ballfield with my Darrell Strawberry glove (yes, it's as black as his coke-snorting heart!) and trudge out to right field, hoping everybody on the opposing team is indeed right handed so my team will never know just how crappy I am.

As long as you don't count on me to ever sink a layup, anybody wanna play a few sets of three-on-three hoops with me?

Comments

The L said…
yay! i thought i was the only person that liked the exercise. its the whole eating healthy that sucks to me!

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