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MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY|FITNESS
This is Part 3 of a series, My Weight Loss Journey. Part 1, concerning my history and finding my “why”, is here. Part 2, which tells my story about finding a healthier relationship with food, is here.
You knew it was coming, right? That word: exercise. I’ve always been that person who hates to sweat. When people would talk about enjoying their workout, I could not relate, because I dreaded it. Going for a run was painful torture, and I couldn’t even imagine going to the gym. Once again, I learned to change my perspective.
When I first started to exercise back in Alaska, I joined a women’s gym. This is certainly a less intimidating way to begin. The gym I joined was small and didn’t offer any classes. There was a circle of equipment with instructions on the wall near each apparatus. An employee walked you through how to use each piece of equipment and told you to listen to the verbal cues that told you when to move to the next activity in the circuit. I was terrified to go the first time, but it wasn’t as intimidating as I’d feared. I didn’t enjoy it, but I felt proud and accomplished when I’d finished. However, I don’t like driving on icy roads or in the dark, and Alaska has plentiful icy roads and darkness that distracted me from regular gym attendance. The gym cost also took a bite from out budget that we couldn’t afford at the time, so I didn’t stay there for long.
Gradually, it dawned on me that I was thinking of exercise in a narrow way. What our bodies need is more activity, and there are a myriad of ways to make that happen. So I started to think through various ways of adding activity to my life. I think one of the best ways to do that is to think back to childhood and consider the activities that you enjoyed.
I was a bookworm even as a child, but I did enjoy activites such as riding my bike, going swimming, and walking or hiking in nature. You know what? I still enjoy those same activities. So, I determined to stop saying “I hate exercise”, when what I really dislike is jogging and high-impact exercise. I never refer to myself as an exercise-hater; instead, I say that I’m an avid walker who also enjoys swimming and water aerobics.
If you have joint pain, swimming is a great activity; it’s no or low impact and easy on the joints. Even if you’re not a swimmer, you can participate in deep water aerobic classes. You wear a safety belt, and if you are still uneasy, talk to the instructor. There is usually someone in my class riding on a pool noodle in addition to wearing a safety belt. Honestly. You don’t need to be a swimmer to do shallow or deep water aerobics, and you’ll get a great workout. Or, you can also do water walking. My Grandma walked laps in the pool into her 90s.
I also love kayaking, but that obviously requires a body of water and a kayak!
Walking and Hiking
Another activity I enjoy is walking and light hiking. We have lovely trails in our neighborhood, and numerous beautiful parks with walking paths in the vacinity. There is also a nearby lake that’s lovely to walk around. Currently, I’m struggling with my allergies and asthma to a degree that outdoor walking is not an option for me, but I get out there regularly when I can breathe.
When I was still teaching, I walked every lunch break with a couple of friends. It was a great break for us to step away from the school briefly, and the exercise and fellowship was lovely. I still meet regularly with one of those friends for early Saturday morning walks at various parks, or–when my allergies/asthma flare–on the inside walking track at the Y. What a wonderful way to invest in friendship while staying active!
I’ve also discovered some workout DVDs I enjoy. Since I do love walking, I picked up a Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds walking DVD years ago. I was hooked! In addition to walking in place, we do kicks, knee lifts, side steps, grapevines, arm moves, and sometimes a few hooks and jabs or some salsa moves. I have a huge workout DVD library, so I never get bored. I have many favorites: Mix + Match Walk Blasters, Yoga Walk, Walking Off the Pounds, Belly Blasting Walk, and Burn to the Beat. Some of my very favorites are the oldies, and they are much more expensive: Walk Away Your Stress, Heart Healthy Walk.
I’ve also recently incorporated more targeted strength training. Some of Leslie Sansone’s workouts include some strength training, and I always enjoy that. However, I ordered a set from Prevention Magazine Fit in 10 Total Body Transformation and I’m seeing great results from that. The plan calls for you to work a ten minute segment each day targeting one area. I have to do modifications for the lower body exercises, and usually just sub in the knee exercises my orthopedic surgeon gave me. I’m seeing a definite improvement in strength since I’ve added in these ten minute segments, and I enjoy the four minute cool down exercises that follow. Those are the highlight of my workout.
What Activity Do You Enjoy?
I encourage you to think back to a time when you enjoyed being active. What specifically did you like to do? What about it did you enjoy the most: was it a group activity or solitary? Were you outdoors or in? Was it in a gym? Did you have a coach or personal trainer? Think through what you enjoyed and see how you could add in similar activities to rejuvenate your active life now, taking into account any physical limitations or medical restrictions. I was a committed exercise hater, and found my way to an active life I truly enjoy. If I can do this, I truly believe anyone can! You can take care of yourself.
Remember at the beginning of this series, when I talked about my extreme self-conciousness walking into a room of people?
“Have you ever dreaded walking into a crowded room? Have you quickly scanned the room to see if you are the largest person in attendance? Have you ever felt so ashamed of your appearance that you wished you could shrink into yourself, draw less attention, be quieter and inconspicuous, just be less visible?”
I am not that person anymore.
I still need to lose more weight, but I’m comfortable in my skin now. I’m just a regular, medium-sized person who is eating right and taking care of herself. I feel happy about that. I feel good about who I am; I’ve made peace with my body. Here’s the best part of all: when I walk into a room full of people, I’m anticipating what I’m going to learn or who I will meet. I’m alert to the possibility that I may be able to encourage someone or minister to them in some way. I’m eager for opportunities to contribute something of value to others.
This is a much happier way to live.
What about you? Do you need to begin taking better care of the only body you’ve been given? What one step could you take right now, today, toward a healthier you? I’d love to hear about your frustrations and goals! Please comment below to join the conversation. If you’d like to follow my posts, please click here to subscribe.