When I was a kid, I wanted to be tough. Being a child of the 80s, I got most of my ideas of what tough was by watching movies. Jean Claude VanDamme and Schwarzenegger tended to be the most-often rewound VHS tapes (well, all were second to Top Gun, but that's a different story entirely).
Anyway, I got it into my head that if I stretched and could punch things I'd be tough, so around I went punching (okay, tapping) my wall and trying to kick things as high as my head (okay, more like waist level). I also spent a fair amount of time pestering my dad to get me a set of free weights. He not so politely declined and pointed me at the snow-covered woodpile in our back yard and told me to move it over five feet, and I'd be in shape. Bear in mind we heated our entire house with a wood furnace...the woodpile was seven feet high and three hundred feet long. I not so politely declined his counter-offer and went on pestering.
In the meantime, I sat warm and cozy in the house and played video games (and watched those movies!). And got softer and softer.
In college I finally found athletics and realized that I love being a jock. Over the years I've gotten interested in more sports, most recently running. As I've run over the course of this winter, I can feel my thirty-seven-year-old body getting stronger and tougher. Six months ago I'd have to stop several times during a one-mile trot, gasping and wheezing the whole time. Now, it's nothing at all to me now to layer up and go out for a quick three mile run in the middle of a 15F snowstorm. I've dropped several pounds, added a lot of muscle, and don't feel the slightest bit nervous about being on foot several miles away from home now. Though the end result is vastly different from what my thirteen-year-old self envisioned as tough, I finally feel for the first time in my life that I'm not the soft blob I used to be. Well not entirely anyway. I'm shooting for my first half-marathon this spring and still have quite a bit of training to do.