Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fitness for an Ice Cream Lover

I'm the kind of girl who celebrated the first time of working out in a long time by promptly going to the dairy bar on campus to eat ice cream. Working out is not really my thing. I've gone through spurts of concentrated exercise, such as the summer before I participated in a twelve day backpacking trip, and decided I wanted to meet the backpack organization's minimum standard of running a mile and a half in twelve minutes. I met that goal, but developed shin splints by the end, and did not work out as much after the backpack trip, when there was no end goal in sight.

Since college graduation, not much fitness has happened. There was an occasional long walk on the beach or around the neighborhood, or ten minute yoga, but I never motivated myself to get in a consistent work out regime. Moving across the country was another opportunity to reinvent myself, as every new beginning is, and I knew I wanted to change my fitness standards.

Once we paid money for gym memberships at the university, I decided I absolutely had to use the gym. No excuses. So I got Aaron (the fitness expert in our family) to show me how to use the stationary bike, and I hopped on with a book. I found, to my surprise, that a sweaty 30 minutes passed by quickly when I was reading while pedaling! I felt great by the end, because I knew I was moving in a healthier direction for my body. We played racquetball after, and although I was swiftly winded, I had a good time.

As we continued to venture back, I found myself actually enjoying going to the gym. I allowed myself to start slow, but even after thirty minutes of reading, my body felt stronger. Gym classes began, and I immediately signed up for yoga. The first yoga class was long, and my legs shook through parts of it, but I felt very relaxed afterwards.

There have been bumps in the road. I took a Body Sculpt class, didn't perform the sit ups correctly, and my neck ached the entire next day. Today I took a Butts & Guts class and it completely kicked my butt (and gut). I don't know if I'll be able to do that class again anytime soon, but I am still signed up for Yoga and Spinning later in the week, and they'll provide more opportunities to work my muscles in new ways as I determine what works best.

I know that my body needs to exercise, and I know that I feel better afterwards. In the past, however, that wasn't really enough to motivate me. What has kept me motivated so far is being able to do something I really enjoy, like reading while working out, or taking yoga classes. The accountability of the classes helps keep me moving throughout a long workout. Mentally, I am calmer and happier when I work out, and I know it will be essential to maintain this mental clarity throughout the snowy and frigid winter.

So yes, if you asked me, I'd tell you I would rather curl up under a blanket on the couch with a book and a cup of tea (or better yet, hot chocolate!). But I wouldn't actually feel fantastic, physically or mentally, if I did that all the time, and working out makes those lazy times that much sweeter.

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