I’d like to…I want to.

June 16, 2010

I’d really like to start a regular exercise routine. But I haven’t. And I think I’m in the company of millions of people. I’ve been thinking a lot about what deters me, what holds me back.

First of all, I’m a creature of comfort. When Marshall proposed to me, he told me I had 7 great loves, and they are what made him love me so much. One of those loves was comfort. He likes when I’m in a sweatshirt or wrapped in a blanket. Last Christmas, InStyle had an 8-page article on gift ideas, categorized by general personality types. The page I was attracted to instantly was the one that oozed comfort: ear muffs, tea kettle, flannel button-up, bathrobe, checker set, etc. etc. I like to be cozy. My favorite part of Everett’s favorite sign language video is when the host talks about sleep, pajamas, and then turns off the light in a bedroom, where two little kids softly snore and crickets sing quietly. I love rest and regeneration.

So the idea of moving my body so much I sweat through my shirt (eww) goes against my grain, you could say. But I long to be stronger, healthier. I know it doesn’t take much. I know little steps will lead to bigger strides. And a couple times a week, I do go on walks, pushing a few dozen pounds in front of me. I discovered that new tennies, a visor, and non-denim pants or shorts make the experience easier. I discovered that plugging my iPod into a cheap tiny speaker, dropped into a pocket in the back of the stroller, helps me from getting bored.

But I want to be more consistent. I want to get up at 7 and walk in the early morning hours, all by myself. Marshall and I run our own company, which means we make our own schedule. Which is great. But it means we have to work a lot to get our business off the ground. So time taken away from work can sometimes make me feel guilty, even though both of us have agreed multiple times that it is totally okay to spend a small part of our day exercising. It is showing respect to our bodies. We try to not refer to it as working out or exercising anymore, as those words connote boredom to me—we’ve dubbed it physically heightening experience, or phe (pronounced phay). (“How can we incorporate more pheing in our day-to-day life?” we ask each other.)

If I wake up before my boys are up, I’d rather have some tea and read. (Gosh. Reading. I love reading. When E naps, there is nothing I’d rather do than read. If I go a few days without reading, I physically feel the lack.) I recently read a fitness expert’s findings that some people get more tired from working out than energized, so they should work out in the evening (while other people are the opposite—they become energized, so working out for them is better suited for the morning). This makes total sense to me. However, when my mind thinks about pheing after supper, my body thinks about reading on the couch. And my body almost always wins.

I know that my preferred form of working out is a dance or some other low-impact cardio class, walking (sometimes boring even with music or a friend, though—I don’t know why), or biking (my bike sorely needs a tune-up, and I get nervous about biking in Madison, even on the paths). I know these are things that I can do. The problem is seeing them as a priority. How can I change my perspective, to view exercising as a must-do? As important as putting food in my body and getting rest? What do you do? Keep in mind that your answer will be more relevant to me if you have at least one child in your household. :) (Eating, resting, working out, showering, connecting, thinking, and all other necessary life-giving activities are always complicated by the presence of a kid in your life.)

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3 Responses to “I’d like to…I want to.”

  1. Bethany said

    yes yes yes yes yes yes. I could have written this. Here’s one thing I think (partly because i just read a book about it, but also having watched our family): I think you and I, at least, have adrenal glands that are not as robust as other peoples’. Hard exercise = bad for weak adrenals. So we are naturally put off by things that are not good for our particular bodies. (When your adrenals are really shot, you aren’t supposed to exercise at all. That’s where I was for maybe 2 years.)

    I tried Zumba at the Y and even that made my body and mood grumpy. I like dancing but only when it’s spontaneous and I’ve had a little alcohol first.

    The only thing I’ve tried that I actually miss and find myself wanting to go back to is yoga. It’s like sleeping while moving your body just a very little. But it’s got to be the right atmosphere. The room has to be aesthetically pleasing and calming, and I have to like the teacher, and their mentality needs to be laid back and not at all religious or disciplinary. I actually have found this at the Y – it’s the newest Y in Nashville so the yoga room is big, full of light, wood floors, fake plants, good music. A Y has all sorts of ages and body types by nature, so you don’t have to be any particular thing to fit in. The teachers have to be chill in order to be liked by that wide wide range of folks. You can wear whatever you want and they provide the mats and balls.

    I only go to the level 1 classes, during the day, when there are lots of old people around me. It’s calming. (You guys would probably qualify for the reduced rate, which is a bonus – and/or you could just go by yourself and only you would have to have a membership, not Marsh.) You could work the classes into your routine – maybe leave work for an hour. Mama does this sometimes; maybe you could have a Mama date and do it together if you wanted company and inspiration. Teamwork is huge in helping. Although sometimes it’s nice to do something by yourself.

    When it comes down to it, when you have kids, I think tea & read time, both in the morning and at night, should take priority over exercising. Your body is still being worked out by lifting (and soon to be chasing) a child, so you’re doing better than you think; what is NOT inbuilt in childcaring is calm rejuvenation time for your brain. And when I don’t get enough personal time, I eat sugar instead to “treat” myself, which then makes me feel more guilty about not exercising, which makes me eat more to not feel guilty. So splurging on reading & tea is vury vury good.

    (this is wierd because i feel like we could talk about this on the phone, and I was writing partly like I was some anonymous blogger talking both to you and other readers, which I sort of am, but not really. I am sister Boss. LISTEN TO MY WISDOOOOM, WORLD.)

  2. Alison said

    Oh girl, I hear ya. I can’t offer insight to the exercise/child balance, but for most of my life I’ve considered my body simply to be not conducive to “phe-ing.” :) But I think it’s selling our selves and especially our bodies short to talk about them as if they cannot DO things. I think the first step towards phe is a mindset change, beginning to see it as PLAY. We don’t need to do crazy exhaustive work–like Bethany said, you’re already doing a lot chasing a toddler around–but it’s good to intentionally USE our bodies (in an enjoyable way) 3-4 times a week.

    That’s what’s really helped me, anyway. Bethany mentioned yoga, and I love yoga too. I actually like it when the instructors get a little religio-spiritual because it helps me to put extra intention in the movements of my body, and makes an interesting connection to how to practice phe-ing when my mind and body are in tune to one another.

    Also, when you walk, maybe try to listening to books on tape, checked out from the library? It not the same as snuggling up with a book, but maybe it can start to bring some of the enjoyment of a book to walking.

  3. cjpb said

    great ideas, friends. this is exactly what I needed…practical, attractive advice. thank you!

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