It is that time of year again when the sun heats the earth and everything rises and moves and turns green… It is again time to look at my winter body, wishing I had done more to get it ready. I’ve spent most of my adult life without a vehicle and this year working from home AND having transportation had me loafing it bigtime. My body paid for it. Every year I have this familiar feeling… “If I could just lose 100lbs”… and then I go hard and fail. This year it has to be different.
Everything I want to be in life requires discipline and mastery of my body, but it has always been a weak spot. It won’t be long before I give up altogether from old age. I had to ask myself what has kept me from success all these years. I think a big issue for me is exercise itself. My father was very embarrassed of me growing up and I dieted a lot and we biked a lot. It was never enough. Often workouts were filled with embarrassment and frustration. I always did something wrong or wasn’t fast enough, etc. As a result, I sort of hate exercise because his voice is always there with me, angry. Our relationship has changed since we’ve both grown up, but the memories are still there. Not just the workout words, but the swimsuit words and the casually hateful words (“you look like you have one BIG boob and two small ones” “my god I did not realize how disgusting you were until I noticed you sitting there just now” “Nobody likes the fat kid”) . Deep down, we all want to be loved as we are. That’s a natural feeling… but personally I really DO want to do better. The only way to work through this stuff is to do the work. I am not proving anything to dear ole Dad by being a lard.
My body has been amazing to me through the birth of two children and has fought cancer off one time. We are working on a 2nd win. I owe my body some major tough love. I want to be a survivor. I want to endure, I want the strength I need to accomplish anything. I would like to be confident that I can protect myself, my children, and my meager estate from any predator. Your body is the weapon you never lose. We joke about things like WWIII and the Apocalypse, but the reality is… we are one bad decision away from a major crisis. I want to be ready. The person I see in the mirror everyday does not match who I feel like on the inside. This isn’t even about being ugly, but it never hurts to be put together on every level. In spite of my level-head and resilience, my body signals to the world that I do not know how to care for myself. Unacceptable, but true. I want to fix it. The bad habits are life long and deeply instilled in me.
So how do I get there? Well… the truth is I don’t have a magic answer. I made it clear to myself that I would not be looking for magic answers this time around. Discipline is the primary goal. Discipline will get you up and moving faster than someone trying to motivate themselves to step up because it is the development of a habit, maintainance of a standard. The practice of survival ensures success… so how do I do this? By building fitness into my everyday life.
One of my greatest loves is hiking. I love to get my blood pumping to some music and walk for hours, checking out nature, breathing in that primo oxygen fresh from Nature’s teet. Rebuilding that practice is a goal. My kids are finally old enough to keep up with shorter distances. I have committed to one “hike” or walk per week no less than 1 mile long. My kids stay with their father every other week, so I can get in a long hike on those weeks and do a shorty on the weeks I have kids. Maybe even do long hikes alternating Saturdays and Short hikes alternating Sundays, but we are starting small.
While procrastinating on starting the hiking, I was thinking about other fitness goals I have. My arms are huge. They are muscular in the biceps, but I have lots of loose skin and fat and my chest and back could use some major work. This led me to look at what I could do on a regular basis to get my upper body toned up. I settled on rowing. This week, I chose to go and just spend 20 minutes checking out a machine to see if I like it (things you hate are not sustainable and I wasn’t sure my upper body could take rowing). That first tryout session was great and I absolutely love rowing. It is so immersive, you can get into a rhythm and forget about everything for awhile… not only this, but it shreds the upper body and it’s good practice for the real thing (SURVIVAL. YAR!)
My “beginner” session was about 25 minutes and most of it was spent getting the stroke down and just trying different speeds and feeling what was happening to my body. That was Sunday. I went back Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each time doing just 20 minutes at a sustainable pace (25spm). 20 minutes is long enough for me to break a sweat and feel the work without hurting myself or being too exhausted to go back the next day. On Wednesday, I also attended a beginner yoga class and those two things really kicked my butt, but I really enjoyed them both. I realize that I have SO much work to do, but my problem is diving in too deep too soon. My only goal right now is to continue rowing 5x a week and to try and go to a Yoga class weekly, do a hike weekly… I want to get in an average of 30 minutes a day of activity (3.5 hours total).
The most important thing right now is to get into a practice with rowing. Go to the place and do the thing 5x a week. One of those times can match up with a Beginner Yoga class and that’s two birds with one stone. If I were to also walk to the Y, there’s 3 birds. Swimming lessons for the kids are over after this week, so we will spend that time outside hiking and exploring nature and if I can keep that going for a month or so, then I can step it up and do more building on that foundation of practice. By taking it slow, I can be more mindful of how my body feels and what it needs, which may help when it comes to food choices. I have been slacking on every front, but when I take the time to think about what I really want and prepare so that I am not under pressure to make poor choices, success is inevitable. I may fail again, but at least I am trying to get back up.