The sempai (instructor), another classmate and I were discussing our fitness goals while we stretched to warm up for taekwondo class this morning. I told them that mine is very simple: it has nothing whatsoever to do with numbers on scales or garment labels and everything to do with not embarrassing myself at belt tests! They thought I was kidding, but I was deadly serious.
Two belt tests ago, I was testing for my Senior Blue belt. It wasn't even one of the big long Saturday tests, still one of the more abbreviated Tuesday night ones for lower belts, but I wasn't in good enough shape (I actually fell doing a jump spin kick at one point, which was really embarrassing) and it showed. They gave me the new belt, but I walked out of the dojo feeling like shit, like I'd let the program down but more importantly, let myself down as well. That was my "go big or go home" epiphany moment...it was clear to me that I was going to either have to make some changes or quit martial arts sooner rather than later.
Between that test and the next, for my Red belt (which WAS one of the big Saturday tests), I lost about 25 pounds and went down a gi (uniform) size, but those weren't the important measures. That test was two and a half hours long. I went through two liter bottles of water and sweated completely through two towels during that time, but at the end, I still had gas in the tank. If the head sempai had told me to do fifty push-ups after everything else was over, I could have knocked them out with a smile on my face, and that feeling was just the best feeling in the world.
This past Monday night, I earned the eighth stripe for my Red belt. One more (representing the final check that I still remember all my stuff) and I'm up for the Senior Red test: the head sempai told me to expect to test within the next few weeks. In our system, where White is the first belt and Black the 12th, Senior Red is 9th, so I'm getting up there. Tests aren't going to get shorter or easier from this point on, quite the reverse. I've kept the weight off, I've been working hard on cardio and upper body muscles (cursed push-up requirement!) and I feel pretty strong. Time will tell how the test goes, but I feel like I've put myself in a position to succeed by virtue of a hell of a lot of hard work, and that means a lot more than any number.