I think the difference between “hardcore” and “works really hard,” is that despite the cold, the rain, the wind, and the snow, the hardcore just think, “wow, the rain/snow/hail is almost refreshing once you’re moving.”

The others either skip the workout or find a way that isn’t quite so painful.

I’ve flip-flopped between these two entities throughout my life, always wishing I were more hardcore. I keep myself motivated by constantly setting higher goals. The good thing is that I give myself plenty of months to either finally do it or change the goal to something nearly as ambitious.

Lately I’ve found that it works to tell as many people as possible what my goals are, so that I’m 1) more likely to work harder or 2) have somebody equally crazed agree to do it with me.

I’ve had entire relationships based on these goals, which turned out to be beneficial when looking for a not-so-hurtful reason to back out of it: “I thought you were someone who followed through…I didn’t realize that was just talk…”

I moved to Asheville because the place is surrounded in fun and crawling with badasses ready to show you where to find the fun. Not just that, but badass WOMEN. I’ve lived in several cities, and was in the Navy, but I’ve never known so many women who could kick my butt. At least 10 of my very favorite girlfriends are readily available to go camping, take a motorcycle road trip, spend a weekend riding bikes in the woods, or willing to schlep their children through snowstorms to find the perfect sledding spot. At least nine of them will have their own headlamps and moonshine.

Hardcore is way harder than what I thought it was just 15 years ago, based solely on who I now know. Never mind the fact that I’m 15 years older—age has only made me focus better. I’m told that it all—physical as well as mental—begins deteriorating in just another five years. In fact, a dear friend just today told me that genetics and parenting keep you healthy for about 45 years and that every rotten thing that you’ve done to yourself starts showing itself every year thereafter.

That was exactly what I needed to hear in order to kick it a little harder.