Exercise. Ugh. Such a love hate relationship we have developed over my life thus far.
When depressed, it is the last thing I want to do. And the thing I most need. It can be so hard to break the cycle of feeling blah by doing something that is not always fun and exhausting in the short-term, even if it produces energizing results in the long term.
When feeling invigorated, working out is often a tasty challenge that my competitive nature loves. Can I beat my last mile time? Can I stick it out and beat that last personal best? I can, and I do. Endorphins for all; my worldview is tainted sunshiny loveliness!
The second half of my thirties is showing me that it gets harder to pick up again when I let off. Getting back to the level I was at (pre-several month excercise break) is a lot tougher this time than the last go round. At the same time, it can be done. It WILL be done. The hardest part of working out is NOT the physical struggle, it is the mental one. And friends, that struggle is so real.
I am not one for concrete resolutions. January was not chosen as a start date for that purpose, it just worked out that way. I typically work out for awhile in anticipation of an upcoming race or event, then don’t exercise for weeks or months at a time. Recent hip and knee pain coupled with the fact that ever since kiddos I have kept twenty extra pounds hanging out with me have joined forces to really drag me down physically. I probably need to see the doctor and am looking into cortisone shots for these aching hips. I also know losing the excess weight would do wonders for these old gal joints. Now that I am at a place where I am comfortable in my own skin – no matter what the scale says – I thought, it’s time to make this a consistent, permanent routine.
I have been working out for about two weeks now and I have to say, I am still always surprised at how much better I feel both mentally and physically. Did my stomach magically disappear? Nope. Did I lose any weight at all? Nada. Do I feel like a more active person? YES! Am I sleeping better? YES – and I struggle with chronic insomnia, so that is ahh mazing. Is my disposition brighter? Absolutely! Is it physically challenging? Yup. But the mental challenges – ah, there is my love-hate core. Half the battle is won by simply donning that sports bra and lacing up the shoes.
I tell myself repeatedly, “Okay, you JUST have to walk. If you feel the urge to run/jog/skip/hop/boogie on the treadmill, go for it! Walking is a privilege. You have two legs and CAN walk, so you will.” It has been working for me so far. Teaching yourself to be disciplined when it hasn’t ever permanently stuck has been a challenge. I am nervous about mixing up my routine with strength training, but know that will be on the horizon soon.
I am trying to do a 5K (3.1 miles) per day, three times a week, and one day that is at least a mile. Also so far = success! But MAN do the laziness demons call out my name on the daily. At mile one as I start to break a sweat I think, “Oh you did one mile, that’s enough of that. My hips hurt. Good job! Go eat a donut.” At 1.5 miles I think, “Ahhhh just stop for today, you can make up the other half of that 5k tomorrow. Good job for doing something, it’s better than nothing!” At mile two I think, “Golly gee whiz! Two miles! That is wonderful, perfectly fine to stop right here and call it a win!” At about 2.5 miles I get more positive, because that is where the end is near. At 3.1 miles I am always proud that I stuck it out and finished what I set out to do.
For some reason, this time is different for me. I think that because of all of my past failures and shortcomings, I have come to realize that I rationalize and make a lot of excuses when it comes to exercising. And when I really scrutinize and take a look at myself honestly, I know I am capable of more. I can do better. When you know better, you should do better. Will I become an Olympic athlete? Nah. Will I slack sometimes and mess up? Of course, I’m human. But I am now holding myself fully accountable and pushing through the mental muck that in the past I would have let myself off the hook for. Not today, good sir. Not this time.
Simon Sinek says about leadership and life, “It’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency.” I have adopted this thought process with the understanding that intensity can also boost results.
Now…healthier food choices? I am still in denial and rationalizing in this area. Let’s conquer one healthy activity at a time. I walked a 5k today, so pass the bread rolls, please.