So, there's a side effect to training for a triathlon.

You get buff.

The primary goal of the triathlon project was to distract myself from the book craziness. But a second and not insignificant goal was to get back in shape after having Genevieve.

I neither enjoy nor succeed at weight loss programs. In hopes of finally fitting back into my normal clothes, I briefly tried to make a social fitness app work for me last winter. Inputting my daily eating log was like pulling teeth. Once I started training for the triathlon - which for me meant exercising for about an hour six days a week - I stopped being distracted by the way I looked and became much more interested in my ever-increasing fitness level. What I could do - how far, how fast, how fun.

I remember the first day I noticed the change. I hadn't seen it, but I felt it. I put my hand on my cheek, and it felt different. I pressed my cheekbones with both palms and marveled - whose face is this?

It's not just my face. There are hard places that used to be soft, muscles that used to be hidden. My clothes fit - except the ones that are too big.

At a booksigning last month, a woman was surprised to learn that I was the one in the cover photograph. "Wow," she murmured. "You've slimmed down."

I've always loved - and been inspired by - stories of people who work hard to become strong and healthy. I'm happy to have such a story to tell. But believe me when I say this: I loved this body when it was all curves and no angles, when it did the spectacularly hard work of labor, when the thought of swimming and biking and running was enough to make me collapse on the couch.

Bodies can be a source of profound pain, but they are also so wondrous - nerve endings and taste buds and fingertips and toes and shoulderblades and hips and hearts. And the things you can do with them! Like eating homemade ice cream, which I did tonight, and kayaking through downtown Chicago, which I'm doing on Friday.

I don't know what else to do but be grateful.


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