Over the years I have gone in and out of exercise, and I assume that pattern will continue. There is no reason for me to think that one spurt of exercise motivation will be different from the others and will suddenly last forever and be easy and wonderful. No, it is always unpleasant and I always hate it, and there is never one single session that I look forward to. But I try not to discuss every single start-up and fade-off, because that gets boring, and also because most such accounts seem to lack introspection: everyone's new health kick is FINALLY THE ONE THAT WORKS. Step aerobics and low-fat 4eva!!! Tae Bo and Zone 4eva!!! Pilates and whole grains 4eva!!! Zumba and low-carb 4eva!!!
But I am on an ON cycle right now, and it has been long enough to be an Actual phase rather than one of my many, many Attempted phases, so that's nice also. The temptation is to only complain about everything I HATE about exercising, and so I am RISING ABOVE that and forcing myself to do the opposite. Here is what I LIKE about exercising, typed while CLENCHING MY TEETH.
1. My knees can get kind of achy if I don't exercise, which brings to mind ads for chairs that will help me to stand. If I exercise too much, they hurt even worse. But if I exercise the right amount, they feel better.
2. Working on my balance problem. My brother still occasionally mentions the time I was in high school and tripped WHILE STANDING STILL. (Hello, there was a PATTERN on that linoleum.) When I've been exercising, I notice I'm quicker to regain my balance if I lose some of it.
3. Feeling like I'm all Ms. Muscles McBallet. Instead of just bending over (lift with your back!) for the pan lid, I fling one leg out behind me and lever down like one of those drinking bird toys. If I'm waiting for something to boil, I crouch a little because it'll help improve my thigh muscles which in turn will help me the next time I exercise. This is why I think Jillian is so idiotic: for some of us, taking the stairs isn't some pathetic cop-out we should feel ashamed of trying to fool ourselves with; instead, it's what makes us feel like one million small movements are worth doing, so we do those one million small movements instead of NOT doing them.
4. Feeling all awesome. When I'm walking along, or when I'm folding laundry, I feel the muscles! engaging! and the cardiovascular system! kicking in! Again, see point about Jillian and how crappy her advice truly is. Her message is "Be perfectly 100% ultimately fit in every way, or else DON'T BOTHER, YOU PATHETIC FOOL." I reject it. I feel all awesome and motivated to do more when I do a bunch of small things. I don't feel awesome and motivated to do more when someone yells that doing small things is pathetic and useless.
5. When I have to do something active, like walking up a hill or taking some stairs, I notice my muscles feel all happy about it, rather than feeling resentful and tired.
6. Having more overall pep/perk. When I'm going from the kitchen to the computer room, or from the computer room to the kitchen, I often break into a run. This was startling to the children at first, but they have become accustomed to it.
7. Sleeping better. I fall asleep more easily. If I wake up at 3:00, I'm less likely to stay awake watching a mental slideshow of Every Time I Screwed Up.
8. Feeling like I am Improving. I am getting better at what I'm doing. This happens in other areas of life as well, so it's not that it HAS to happen in this arena---but it's nice, for a change of pace, to have it happening in a physical realm. At first I could barely do 10 minutes; now I can do 30! At first I couldn't figure out WHAT this exercise was supposed to do because I couldn't feel ANYTHING; now I think OH, I get it!
9. Being able to say at a doctor appointment that YES, I DO exercise.
10. Feeling like I'm doing things to delay death. My guess is that I'm not actually doing much to delay death: most of our ancestors had jobs that kept them physically active until they died at 52, but of course they were also eating a ton of local organic unprocessed whole foods, so maybe THAT'S what shortened their life expectancies. But our current culture believes that I AM going to live longer because I exercise a fraction of the amount my farmer ancestors did, and so I believe that I might be, and that is a pleasant belief. I am exercising, so I will live longer wheeeeeeee! Or shorter---we'll have to see how this all pans out, considering right now we know almost nothing about anything! But if I'm wrong I'm in good company wheeeeeeee!
11. Whether it prolongs life or not, "use it or lose it" is a saying that seems to hold true over the ages, and whatever years I DO have are more likely to involve better balance and an easier time getting a pan lid out of the oven drawer. Unless I get REALLY into exercising and destroy my joints.
12. Watching movies while I exercise is the only way I can make myself do it at all. So this means I am suddenly seeing movies! LOTS of movies! I saw Inception! I saw The Kids Are All Right! I'm watching Friday Night Lights! I kind of know what other people are talking about, sometimes!
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...