Monday, June 22, 2015

On Exercise

One decision really can change your life.

Notice I said it can, not that it will. I've made lots of decisions, only to fail in the follow through. Last year, however, I made a decision that I stuck to with commitment and determination, and it really has changed my life. I decided to start exercising.

Let me be clear: I hated exercise. It was hard, it hurt for days later, and I'm really clutzy and uncoordinated, so just figuring out how to do exercises the right way is a real challenge. But I didn't like the fact that it was hard to carry my 18-month-old son up and down the stairs in our house, and that I couldn't walk around the block without huffing and puffing. I also hated my jeans size and my arms. Most of all I hated my arms. My arms were the breaking point. Maybe no one else noticed, but to me they looked like unsightly blobs just sort of hanging off my shoulders. Not pretty.

Toward the end of May, I saw one of those 30-day challenge things in my Facebook newsfeed. You were supposed to join this event and do three exercises (squats, push-ups, and leg lifts) every day and BOOM, you'd have toned arms, abs, and legs for a summer of shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits. So here's the one decision I made: I decided I hated my arms more than I hated exercise. I didn't do anything drastic. I didn't join a gym, or even that event. There was an image that had a calendar and three exercises for every day. So I stole the image (yep. I did) and committed to it. I'd heard it takes 21 days to form a habit so I thought if I exercised every day for a month maybe I'd just keep exercising for the rest of my life and create a healthier existence for myself.

It started off easy enough, something like 10 squats, 10 leg lifts, and a couple pushups. To be clear, at that point in my life I couldn't do one pushup. I tried. Not even one. I could do a few of the girly modified ones from my knees, so that's where I started. And oh my, I hated it. I hated it every day for a month. I remember thinking that 21 days is not long enough for me to form a habit, because I did it for 21 days straight and still hated it and would have happily given it up. But I was starting to see results. My arms didn't look so bad. My waist was coming back. I don't wear shorts, but I could have and not been totally self-conscious. I thought it might be worth it to keep going and see if I could maybe get back into my smaller jeans. The challenge was to get up to 100 squats, 100 leg lifts, and 40 pushups by the end of June, and I didn't do that. I leveled off at 50, 50, and 20. I was motivated, but not that motivated! After a couple months I started getting bored so I added in some videos a couple days a week, and a few more exercises. Like burpees. I don't know why I started doing burpees, and I still hate them, but I can do them and they seemed like a decent challenge so I kept doing them.

After about three months, I woke up one morning and realized I don't hate exercising anymore. It's been a year now, and I think I kind of like it. I exercise in the morning, before my kids wake up, because I just can't do it when they're around. I've tried and it's impossible. And I never exercise for more than half an hour because that seems excessive. I have friends who do the gym thing and that's cool. I don't want to see other people working out and I don't want them to see me, and I don't like equipment or monthly fees, and occasionally I can be highly self-motivated, so I just keep doing the home thing. I mix it up, talk to friends or look on the internet to find ways to change my routine when I get bored. I have a yoga app (FitStar Yoga) that I really like and use a few times a week, and I just started a new app (the 7 Minute Workout Challenge) that is going well so far. Just this morning I did 10 real pushups and I felt like a rock star. And although I've slacked off here and there during the holidays or when I had the flu, for the most part I continue to get up and do my morning exercise routine about 3-5 times a week. A year later, I can carry my kids around and lift cases of water in the grocery store, I'm wearing smaller jeans, I've lost maybe five pounds, and I don't hate my arms. Success!

Sometimes all it takes is one decision, with commitment and follow-through, to change your life. What are some decisions you have made? Or need to make?

2 comments:

Hey, please comment! When no one comments I feel like no one is reading this, and then I have to do really annoying things like nag my friends to read it so that I feel like there is some purpose in what I do. Yeah, I am that pathetic sometimes. (By the way, you might want to copy your comment before you try to post it, because sometimes people have trouble with the page eating their comments)