At some point in my life, I forgot how to skip. I didn't realize I had forgotten until I tried to do it this afternoon, skipping down a sidewalk with Andrew. He skips so effortlessly and joyfully that I just had to do it too, because I remember how that feels. I can't explain it, but I remember it. And so I tried. Parts of my body remembered their skipping jobs, but other parts did not. I could skip about three or four steps, then one foot or the other would get off beat, or my knee would forget to bend, or I'd suddenly have a flash of myself falling face first on the concrete and freeze up.
This is one of many things I have forgotten how to do. For instance, I can no longer hula hoop, no matter how hard I try. It used to be a piece of cake, and it was so much fun! These days, the hoop makes one or two pathetic revolutions before dropping to my ankles. It feels like I'm doing the same thing I used to do, but for some reason, it just doesn't work. There used to be a game called Lemon Twist (or something like that), which involved putting one foot through a plastic loop and skipping over a plastic lemon as it spun around and around your leg. I could do it for hours! No, I'd probably be lucky not to trip over it on the first go-round and break something critical.
As James and I examine our fitness levels, and set out once again to try to lose seven million pounds, it becomes more and more apparent to me that I never should have stopped doing these things that I've forgotten. Exercise never used to be a chore when I was a kid--we walked miles in a day without getting out of breath, climbed trees like monkeys, jumped and dove off the high dive "until we had headaches", as my cousin Tony put it during his father's eulogy a few weeks ago. None of it was hard. In fact, it was second nature. Just like it's second nature for Andrew to run everywhere he goes.
I did about fifteen minutes of pathetic beginner's whale yoga tonight after getting Andrew to bed. The same person who used to make a "bridge" by bending over backwards and lifting herself up on hands and feet now struggles to do Downward Facing Dog, the most basic of yoga postures. The creaks and the pops in my knees would get me thrown out of any self-respecting yoga class--they would disrupt the requisite quiet and serenity. When I realized that my recently-improved elbow was acting up again, I decided to call it quits for the night.
What I wish I had known then was that stuff would stay easy if I kept doing it, and that it would be daunting, if not completely impossible, for me to relearn some of those activities. Of course, at the age where I started forgetting that exercise and activity could be fun, I was too much of a know-it-all to listen even if someone had told me. And then life got in the way. Schoolwork became more of a challenge at some point, I got a job, social distractions took priority, and it became the treadmill of life that kept me running instead of my feet actually moving. So, in no particular order, here's a list of things that used to be fun and were actually very good for me, little did I know. If you are still able to do them (safely), go for it. I'm going to keep working on some of them (not all of them--I don't like being injured), skipping included.
1. Riding a bike. I don't even have a bike. You can't forget how to ride one though, and it hasn't been too many years since I last did, so maybe this one won't be so hard.
2. Skipping. See above. I'm putting on my tennis shoes next time, though.
3. Cartwheels. I was never very graceful, but I got off the ground.
4. Jumping rope. I used to be able to double-dutch! How is that possible? I'm pretty sure I'd knock myself out with my boobs if I started jumping now. Well, there's another use for duct tape.
5. Crossing the monkey bars. There's no going back to this one. My arm strength was never very good--the flexed-arm hang in fitness tests used to kick my ass.
6. Making that back-bend bridge. I might snap both of my arms off at the elbow, but I'll give it a shot. If I ever accomplish it, I'll make the hubby take pictures.
7. Sitting on the floor with knees bent, feet pointed backwards, then lying back. Ouch.
8. Diving. I was never very good at it--fear held me up--but it's on my lake list for this summer.
9. That Lemon Twist game--anyone have one?
10. Hippity Hop. How much damn fun was that? We used to hop all around the wrap-around porch.
How about it? Are there things you used to be able to do and can't? When was the last time you did any of the above activities? Any tips on how to regain some of my childhood flexibility and momentum? Will I feel better or worse after I hear your side of it?