I sat in the parking lot, working up the nerve to go inside. Could I do this? Could I really make a change this big? More importantly, could I stick with it? “God,” I whispered, “if this body really is your temple, you’re going to have to help me treat it that way.” I opened the car door and walked across the parking lot.

“I want to sign up for a membership,” I told the girl behind the desk – quickly, before I could lose my nerve. “Here’s a list of the classes you can join,” she said, after I’d filled out the necessary paperwork and handed her a cheque. “There are lots of choices of times for aerobics classes, step classes, yoga, etc. Or if you prefer, you can just use the machines and weights. What time of day do you think you’ll be coming in?” “Six o’clock in the morning,” I said, gulping a little at my bravado. “Really?” that other little voice whispered in my head. “You REALLY think you can get up that early in the morning to go to the gym? Ha! You’ve gotta be kidding!”

Trying to ignore the pessimist in my brain, I set two goals for myself. Lose at least 30 pounds by my birthday (in May), and run the 2.6 mile super-run with Nikki at the marathon in June.

That was January 21st. In the seven weeks since, I’ve been at the gym at least six mornings a week – usually at six o’clock in the morning. At least forty-two times, I’ve proved the pessimist wrong.

As of this morning, I have lost 11 pounds. And just this morning I ran 2.6 miles on the treadmill without stopping. If you’re not an overweight, out-of-shape over-forty-year-old, you might not know just how good that feels. Just believe me when I say it’s so SO good.

Even better? It turns out that I LOVE going to the gym. Really love it. Crazy, eh? I look forward to it so much that I often consider going in the evening too. And on the rare weekend morning when I have to miss because of a soccer game or a trip to the airport, I’m disappointed.

Other than riding my bike in the summer and chasing after small children, I’ve done very little exercise in the twelve years that I’ve been a mom. I haven’t been a member of a gym since back in my single days. I really didn’t expect to enjoy this. I thought it would be pure torture every single day, and after a month or so of subjecting myself to torture just because I’d paid for it and didn’t want to waste the money, I’d drop out.

But – surprise, surprise – it’s not torture. Sure it’s tough, and I’m not too fond of dragging my tired body out of bed that early. But mostly it’s delightful. It’s delightful walking the three blocks to get there in the crisp quiet morning air. (Yes, I’m lucky it’s so close.) It’s delightful pushing my body to new limits. It’s delightful feeling the pain of the last push of adrenaline at the end of the workout. It’s delightful getting to know some of the other women who are mostly very much like me at a small homey neighbourhood gym. It’s especially delightful stepping into a warm shower afterwards and letting the water wash the sweat from my body.

I keep expecting the novelty will wear off (there goes that pessimist again). It hasn’t.

What surprises me the most is just how spiritual it feels to be pounding out my footprints on the treadmill or flexing my muscles on the weight machines. With my music playing in my ears, it feels like meditation – like prayer. Even a little like communion. It feels like God really is visiting this humble temple.

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