I used to swim a lot when I was younger. Up until middle school, I took weekly swimming lessons, at the request of my mother, until I told her that I just wasn’t that into it. Besides, by the time I’d turned twelve, vanity had settled in and broad swimmer’s shoulders were the last thing that I wanted with my already athletic frame.
It would come as a surprise that I would eventually join my high school’s dragonboat team junior year. I’d never joined a school sports team before—cross country hardly counts—and I was pretty much the weakest person I knew. But over the months of gruelling practices and sore muscles and aching backs, I gradually saw improvement in my fitness.
A couple weekends ago, a couple friends and I went to the local YMCA to workout. By workout, I mean to say that we went there for the sole purpose of lifting weights. Let me paint you a picture. I’m five-foot-six and weight about 113 pounds. I’ve never lifted weights except during dragonboat practice. I have a fear that I will develop muscular arms and broad shoulders. The only heavy lifting I’ve ever done previously was lifting my stand mixer from the cupboard to the counter.
The bicep curls were relatively easy. Bring the weight up; slowly bring it back down. The benchpress was decidedly scarier for someone like me, who had never done it before. I won’t lie: towards the end of the fifty reps, I was a little worried that my shaking arms would fail me and that my head would take the full brunt of the weight. I would have never attempted it if the captains hadn’t been spotting us.
At the end of the workout, my friend Justine and I had a bicep curl competition. Using a 20 lb weight, we tried to outdo one another. She set the bar at ten, so I did fifteen. She did twenty-five reps, so I did forty. At this point we were already pretty worn out and not to mention SORE from all the lifting we’d done before, but Justine managed to hit sixty bicep curls. Not to be outdone, I aimed to beat her, by at least one rep. There’s nothing like competition to motivate you to power through sore muscles; I managed to do eighty reps before one of the senior captains realized that he was late to meet someone and we left.
When I got home, I realized that my arms muscles were really sore and that they would most likely seize the next day. I had almost forgotten that I had made plans to go biking that day, to fulfill one of the items on my bucket list. Already my hands were red and my arms smarting from lifting weights all morning, but I was adamant that we follow through with our route. For two and a half hours, we biked from my house to Edwards Gardens to the Lakeshore. My initial plan had been to bike east towards the lake, but by the time we reached the Lakeshore, we were exhausted, tired, and hungry. Not to mention the fact that my butt was sore from the crappy bike seat. The only thing I was thankful for was that I didn’t have to use my arm muscles while biking. (Although the tender areas of my palm which had chafed from the weights that morning were definitely not enjoying the contact with the abrasive bike handles.)
One of the things that definitely powered me through the physically exhausting day was the idea of consuming whatever I wanted after working out. That hot dog that I ate after reaching Habourfront has to be taken in context, after all. If I were to go for healthy snacks, I definitely would have eaten these kale chips. They’re thin and crispy and incredibly delicious, and a lot less-guilt inducing than a greasy hot dog topped with crushed chips.
Click below for the recipe.
- 1 bunch of kale, washed and dried
- a couple tablespoons of oil
- a pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 300F.
Using a pair of scissors (or your hands), cut the leaves off of the stems. Rip the leaves into bite-sized pieces. If the kale is still wet, throw it in a salad spinner and give it a whir. Turn the leaves out onto a 12x18-inch baking sheet and toss with a pinch of salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Season the kale lightly; once you add too much salt, you can’t take it back.
Bake for 20 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 250F and continue to bake for 10 more minutes, or until the kale leaves are crisp and crumble when pressure is applied. Stir the kale every 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Serve.