I have always hated exercise. In high school running laps for practice, as well as sprints was something I endured, but never enjoyed. Once I got to college, it only took a semester "off" for me to realize that I needed to get my butt up and start running laps again. So I went to the indoor track, and forced myself to get back in shape again, which was great until summer vacation came, and I slacked off again. Ever since then I have had and on-off relationship with physical fitness. I will go to a gym, or start running, and be pretty faithful for a few months until one morning I decide not to get up, and that turns into two mornings, and well, I've already missed half of a week, so why bother? I tell myself I'll start again "next monday," but inevitably I don't and I am off the routine and not motivated to get back into it. Until of course, the pounds start to creep back on, and I feel fat and decide I need to start again. Throw in few pregnancies where I feel entitled to gain weight, and not exercise until the baby is at least 6 months old (and then I am desperate to get it off), and you get a pretty good picture of my regimen.
But I have to say I am proud of myself. Last March I decided that enough was enough, and I needed to start a pattern for a lifetime of fitness. I set up a routine that would work, with accountability built in. I asked a neighbor friend to join me at 6 am to go for a 1/2 hour walk every day (with the weekends and rainy days off). It worked with my schedule, because I got back in time to take a shower before the kids woke up, and I didn't have to work it into my daily schedule of playgroups, shopping, errands, Bible Study, and babysitting. Also because I had someone I knew who would be waiting for me each morning, it forced me out of bed, even when I would have rather turned off the alarm and slept for another hour until the kids woke up. It was hard in the beginning, to get up extra early, but we soon grew to really enjoy the time we could spend together talking, all while getting exercise!
And so it went until mid October. It was starting to get pretty cold and dark in the morning, and I realized I needed a change. In addition to not wanting to walk in mid winter with below freezing temperatures and bone-chilling wind, I wanted to step up the activity a bit. So I regretfully told my friend that I would be going to the gym instead. I dusted off my inactive gym membership and went back, for the first time in a year and a half.
It was hard in the beginning, and it was all I could do to stay on the elliptical machine for a half an hour. My face would be beet red, and I would be breathing heavily when I was done. But gradually, my body adjusted, and I decided to throw in some weights as well. Now I go and do the machine for 25 minutes, and then spend 15-20 minutes lifting weights before heading home. I would like to spend longer, but I only have about 45 minutes because the kids wake up around 7, and I prefer to be showered and dressed by the time they get up. I definitely miss the fellowship aspect of my previous routine, as working out in a gym can be a pretty solitary experience. But for now, this is the right thing for me. I can't say I actually enjoy the exercise, because I still don't like feeling uncomfortable and stretching my limits physically, but I like the way I feel afterwards. I feel strong and fit, and also awake. This has been a great benefit of waking up early to exercise. Before, I would wake up whenever the kids started making noise, and I would feel tired and kind of draggy as I got their breakfast, and wouldn't fully feel myself until I showered and dressed an hour later. Now that I have been up for an hour by the time they wake up, I feel ready to start the day. My mood is improved, and I move quickly through the morning routines. I am reminded of this on the weekends when I let myself sleep in until they wake up, and I just don't feel right.
So, although it has totally been against my nature, I am finally, for the first time in my life exercising regularly. I can't say I have noticed a huge change in my body, but I know that I am more fit, even if the numbers on the scale haven't moved. Of course I would like to drop another 10 pounds ideally, but I think it will take more than what I am doing right now, and I'm not ready for that yet. I am just hoping that a year from now I can write and rejoice that I am still in the routine!