Her body used to be gym strong, shaped by lunch hours spent in the company’s free facility in between boring status meetings, overblown progress presentations, and long, intense stretches hunched over a keyboard, coding. In that past life, “fit” meant being able to run a mile on the treadmill in under ten minutes, do three sets of bicep curls with a dumbbell just slightly too heavy for comfort, resist the tight, candy-colored rubber bands with her muscles until the worst of the knots released. She could carry her desktop computing tower by herself into conference room to show off her work. Her business casual clothes hung from her toned frame just so; she cut a fine figure for the predominately male gaze. And she could subdue an aggressive colleague by challenging him to an arm-wrestling match — which she invariably won.
But here, on the ranch, Susan had to reckon with the reality that corporate fit simply didn’t cut it. Cardio meant raising her heart rate while chasing a wayward calf, then wrangling it back to the safety and solace of its mother’s swollen teats. Strength training consisted of hefting 75-pound sacks of chicken feed out of the truck bed and hauling them into the coop to keep the hens happy. And working her muscles meant pulling thick, heavy ropes to fasten loads, wielding a wooden-handled hoe to keep crop rows weed-free, swinging her leg up over Robusto’s broad back and settling into her saddle for a ride. These actions were difficult, and they made her sore, but in all the best ways. They reduced pent-up anxieties to light worries, and untied the tension in her body.