For nearly forty years I perfected the art of avoiding exercise. I didn’t like exercise, it didn’t make me feel better, and besides, I was too tired and lacking energy. My knees hurt, my legs hurt, I was often winded walking up two steps much less an entire flight. I read how after a certain amount of time on a low carb high fat lifestyle that one often encounters boundless energy for no reason at all. I remember thinking “Yeah, I’ll believe it when it happens”.
The biggest problem I had with exercise was really all in my head. I had convinced myself that exercise was sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, and running in place from my experience in elementary school P.E. I had also convinced myself that here in the adult world that exercise was a gym membership with hours on the treadmill, the elliptical, yoga, or God forbid Zumba! As a clumsy morbidly obese memaw with two left feet and claims of tone deafness, there was no way I was going to dance, much less dance in front of other people, even complete strangers.
It’s funny how when we don’t like ourselves we find it easier to curl up in our self pity and wallow in our sorrows than to actually do something about it. It’s hard to find things we like about ourselves when we hear the snickers of others and feel the stares while shopping or dining out. Don’t get me wrong, my sized 24 body was actually a pretty good invisibility cloak. The people who were too nice to actually stare or make fun of me to my face simply looked through me. Clerks didn’t offer assistance, maybe they thought I was contagious or maybe they didn’t want me to see the disgust in their eyes.
One day I was sitting on the couch folding clothes. I wasn’t hungry, I had learned that most of my hunger was just old habits dying hard. I started thinking about exercise, I started thinking about how I am too big to exercise, and then I started thinking that maybe I didn’t really know what exercise was. For me “re-defining” exercise was the key, I changed the word in my thoughts from exercise to “movement”. I started thinking how any movement that I wouldn’t normally make in the course of my day was movement and by being “movement” it was indeed exercise for me.
A little bit of movement goes a long way. Just moving around rather than spending hours on the couch watching the tube changed me. No, I didn’t lose all my weight over night, and no I didn’t wake up to find my fat replaced with ripped muscles, but I did find self pride instead of self pity. That little bit of movement gave me the courage to seek out other forms of movement.
We have a treadmill and in my new found self pride, I took the junk off of it and tried it out. I hated it. Walking, walking, walking, not getting anywhere just looking at the same wall. Music didn’t make the time go by faster, it only irked me to find that three songs was only nine minutes and I still had twenty-one minutes left. The treadmill made me think more about how forcing myself to do something was not fun and if I was ever going to stick to something I would need to enjoy it.
I found fun in Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout on the Wii. I learned that the boxing foot work and punches not only helped me to shed some anger, but it also helped me to find this energy that had for so long eluded me. Every morning I would look forward to my little cartoon character personal trainer, and the work out he would chose for me. In addition to energy I found pride in myself when I completed a “lesson” or got a better time on roadwork than previously. I was so proud of my hard work and dedication I would tell others about my “workout”. A few words of caution though, many people laugh when you tell them your workout is a Wii. Lucky for me though I was already at the point where I believed more in myself and my ability to better myself than to take it personal, in fact poo-pooing my “workout” of choice only made me more determined.
In my determination I looked for more ways to incorporate more movement into my life. I had been to Mark’s Daily Apple to learn more about eating real food, and ended up learning about squats and lunges. It helped that my younger sister had been exercising her entire life and taught me how to “lunge walk”.
It’s not easy for a 220 pounder to just start squatting and lunging out of the blue, chairs and counters, something to hold for balance helped in the beginning. Eventually I was able to do squats and lunges unassisted. Before I knew it I was not only lunging through the house but I was lunging to the store from my parking space, lunging through the store, and squatting to get things on low shelves. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get up when reading labels, but I just needed a little more faith in myself, and just did it.
Lunges and squats got me thinking that if I could do “real” exercise like this, why limit it. I dove deeper into my quest to fix this mess of a body and heal the wounds illness had left. I kept thinking how if I had never tried anything new I wouldn’t have gotten this far, I started thinking the sky is the limit if I just keep trying. An upcoming trip to Cancun which included an airplane ride motivated me to dig deeper. I hadn’t been on an airplane since childhood and was more scared of fitting in the seat than falling from the sky.
Exercise is often touted as a weight loss tool. I must honestly tell you that when I started exercising, I did not lose more weight, matter of fact, I gained a little weight. What I got from exercise was better than weight loss, my body composition started changing. I was dropping inches, I needed smaller clothes, and by George I fit in that airplane seat and did not need a seat belt extension. I also found a little more of my smile and loved myself a little bit more.
If you would like to think about adding a little exercise to your lifestyle, do the best you can do at the time. Be it bike pedals while watching the tube, arm curls on the couch, do what you are able to do, build up a little strength and add new things as you go, what ever you do, make sure to do something you enjoy.
For more information on what I like to do presently visit http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-fitness-plan-so-easy-a-caveman-did-it/ I am able to incorporate Mark’s “So easy a caveman did it” routine into my everyday life, indoors, outdoors, while shopping. Start off slow, work your way up, and find that pride in yourself to keep going.
Here is a pic from October 2011. We made it to Cancun, I even did late night sprints barefoot on the beach and woke up early each morning to watch the sun rise because I wanted to. My husband is smiling because by this point there is no trace of “Debby Downer” left in me, and well, he was pretty darned proud of me too.