In the final scene of Man of La Mancha, Aldonza assumes Don Quixote's name for her, Dulcinea, partly because he is the first man to ever fall in love with her, but also because after his death, she learns that it is up to her to love herself.
In Hilton Head, I got in the best shape of my life partly because of the intense fight choreography, partly because of 4 hour volleyball matches on the beach, but mostly because I fell in love... with running.
The best way to get in shape and then stay in shape is to find a physical activity that you will do every other day not only because you know it's good for you, but that you can't stand to NOT do it, that when you have to skip a day you miss it. And even better, is to fall in love with an activity that is FREE and that you can do anywhere you are, summer or winter.
Every other day, I would run out of the girl's cast housing and down the street, over the white sand dunes sprouting with tall grasses, and out onto the beach. With Dixie Chicks (Taking the Long Way Home) or Melissa Etheridge playing in my iPod, I'd challenge myself to go farther and farther each day, finding the perfect strip of sand that wasn't too hard packed by the receding tide nor too dry and loose to get my footing. Even with inclement weather threatening, the beach was the best setting for inspiring intervals of jogging and full out sprints. I raced dolphins and watched pelicans and ospreys hunt in the waves. A number of times, I even ran barefoot (inspired by an interview on NPR about running shoes being uncessary) and found it even more exhilerating (though my toes ended up with blisters between them from the sand).
Before long, my clothes were looser and I felt stronger and stronger and then my days between runs I found myself missing the beach.
Back in New York, 80 degree days are in the past, but I've held to my regimen and pretend that the New York sidewalks are the packed down sand of the beach. On cold or rainy days, I walk stairs, taking the elevator down and repeating the climb until I've climbed at least as high as the Empire State Building.
And it's wonderful to be back to my first true love: my husband.
What have you fallen in love with?