- Personal Development -

Getting It Done

“Is this supposed to press down on my nose so much,” I asked Ryan, the trainer administering my metabolic and VO2 max test. “Yeah, it needs to be snug enough so air doesn’t get in through the sides,” he explained, adjusting the straps and checking the seal of the mask.

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“Um, r’okay,” I mumbled from behind the air tube. Standing on the treadmill as Ryan readied my heart monitor and the computer thingy that would be analyzing my athletic stats, I gazed at my reflection on the mirrored wall.

It was a sort of Top-Gun-meets-Muppet effect. The bright green respiratory mask looked vaguely menacing (I had opted to buy my own mask, and now that my nose was smushed against it, I was glad I had), and those silly head straps – yikes! I had hair going every which way and this slightly dazed, skittish expression that said: “Lord, how did I get here?”

“Okay,” I told myself, “chill.” This wasn’t about glamour; it was about finally checking off an item that had been clinging to my to-do list since 2002. I’m not sure if my apprehension was due more to my fear of the test (I’m still traumatized by the memory of a childhood asthma attack I suffered during the Presidential Physical Fitness challenge), or to my dread of the results (what if I was still a cardiovascular lost cause?), but I had to admit: I had been putting this thing off for a while.

Once the test got underway, though, it wasn’t nearly as miserable as I expected it would be. Just your basic, short run at a gradually increasing speed and incline. Ryan kept giving me the thumbs-up and telling me I was doing great, and I didn’t feel pathetic or ridiculous at all. By the time I hit the hardest part – the last few seconds of the test when I was pushing to see if I could get my heart rate above 180 – I was so jazzed knowing it was almost over that I didn’t really mind the pain.

And then I was done. The sweaty mask came off, and I felt a kind of triumph. Less than half an hour from the moment I set foot on the treadmill, I was holding a printout with my V02 max, my anaerobic threshold, and a precise profile of the various of heart rates at which my body burned the most fat, carbs, and calories overall. There was no bad news, just useful data.

I sat down with Ryan to talk about how this information would impact both my endurance and speed work. But all the while, my mind was a little distracted by an odd, emotional surge going through my chest and belly. What was this feeling? It felt giddy, fluttery, almost childish – and so happy! Why, it was pride. Not seven-deadly-sins pride, but the “good job!” kind of pride we experience all too rarely once we stop bringing home stellar report cards and turning out towering Lego structures.

The intellectual part of me knew this whole V02 max test was just a little thing – a mere training tool – but the emotional part of me knew better. In reality, this was an important part of a much bigger personal action plan I’d set out for myself nearly two years before, a part that I’d been hiding out from for quite some time. Now that I’d nailed it, I felt a kind of invincibility about tackling the other parts of my plan, and a huge return of the energy that had been stored up in fear and doubt.

That was a good experience for me to have heading into 2004, which will be a big year for this magazine. You’re looking at what will be the first of 10 issues – all constructed around ambitious themes like Integrity, Momentum, Courage and Dreams.

Starting with the March issue, you’ll also be looking at the work of an expanded crew! I’m delighted to announce the addition of two new senior editors to our ranks. Matthew Solan comes to us direct from the award-winning Yoga Journal; Kathy Kukula from a long writing and editing history with a variety of leading national publications, including Men’s Health, Self, Outside, Prevention and Parents magazines.

You may also notice we’ve added some new departments and reorganized the contents to make your reading experience more enjoyable. Let us know what you think!

Pilar Gerasimo is the founding editor of Experience Life.

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