Last week I chose to share with you my goal about being purposeful in staying home. That is goal #1 . To continue with that theme I'll share with you my second goal for this year.(I promise I won't drag you through every last one of them) Goal #2 is a low down dirty word for me. I call it the "E" word. For many of us it is the bane of our existence, it makes our hearts thunk down to our toes at the very thought or it, our flesh screams in pain at the mention of it. It is...EXERCISE. Now, I realize, there is a group of you out there and you are probably throwing your hands up and thinking "what's the big deal? I live for going to the gym and spending a gagillion hours pumping iron, doing spin classes, getting to my optimal heart rate level, calculating my BMI (what the HECK is that?!!. No. wait. Don't answer. I don't want to know)." I admire you. I think you're a super star. But, I confess, I do not understand you. I just don't share this enthusiasm and passion (insanity) that you have. For me, exercise is a necessary evil and if I didn't have to... I wouldn't. There. I said it.
Super Rock Star and I watched the movie Everest this week. The whole time watched it I was wondering who ARE these people that decide one day "You know what? I would like to know what it feels like to push my body beyond its created limits (to the death) so, I'm going to pay an enormous amount of money, fly half way around the world and deprive myself of oxygen whilst I climb--on purpose-- to the height that 747's fly" At one point in the movie the guide for the trek up the mountain tells his fearless followers "At (and he names some altitude above 20,000ft) your body will start to die. It is my job to get you to the top and back down safely before that happens". Sounds like a real hoot! Not to spoil too much--but, he was not completely successful.
So, this post is not for you exercise enthusiasts (crazies) and certainly not for those of you who are extreme athletes like those in the movie I watched. It is for the folks on my side of the universe that simply realize that unless we want to eat only lettuce leaves and unrecognizable tasteless food AND we want to live long enough to see our children grow up and meet our grand children we must do something to maintain our health and girlish figures. So, please understand. I am not an expert on this. I do not have answers on any of the technical parts of it. I do not know the names of most of my muscles and bones. If you are interested in that side of this discussion I suggest that you seek out some professionals who know so much more than I. What I DO know is that exercise is necessary for ALL of us. Yes, that means you too. I read a lot of Beth Moore's blog and have done many of her studies. One of my favorites is Breaking Free. In this study she talks about how if your weight has become an obsession for you--you are constantly tracking the number on the scale, you weigh and measure every bite, you live and breath what comes into your body and what goes out--then you are worshiping an idol. You are bowing down to a false god. And that covers both ends of the spectrum--whether or not you're obsessed with trying to lose 10, 20, 100 lbs OR if you are so zoned with the level of fitness in your body that its all you do, think about, talk about and live for-- that is also a form of idol worship.
Now, simmer down-- I'm not talking about keeping track of your calories or keeping a food diary and things like that. Those things are good and helpful. Heck, I've been known to count calories--otherwise I could rationalize eating myself to the moon and back and wonder where those extra twenty pounds came from. And I'm certainly not talking about those of you that spend a couple hours at the gym every day (more power to ya). No. I'm talking about something more serious and that is when the shape and size of your body is all you think about. It consumes you and keeps you from ever being content with where you are. Your identity and self esteem is so wrapped up in it that if you are a person that is on the heavier side of the scale you may not ever feel comfortable going out in public and feel embarrassed by your appearance and--on the flip side--the one who is driven only by perfecting their bodies and drinking only green goo to survive and scorning those who have not "seen the light" on how to get and maintain a perfect body. In Luke 12:34 It says "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I knew a sweet young woman in a Bible study a few years ago who was a recovering anorexic. She was well aware of her obsession over her weight to the point that she joked about how she thought that she looked like a rescued victim from Auschwitz. I asked her one time what led her to almost starving herself to death and her answer surprised me. "Because I was good at it." She felt that she was so good at not eating and maintaining a skeleton like figure and that's why she kept at it. She was obsessed with doing something COMPLETELY about her body because she felt like she could be in charge of it and control it. I think there's a danger of that happening to any of us no matter which way the scale is tipping.
Exercise was never meant to be a punishment or obsession. It's to help us to feel good (releasing those awesome "feel good" endorphin's), to strengthen our bodies so we can function properly, do our work/tasks and not be in constant pain, and to maintain our health. That's it. As Beth Moore put it "get up, do it, get it over with and move on".
And that's what my goal is--to just get up and move. I admit over the last several years--it's been tricky. When my boys were small I could put them in a double jogger stroller and walk or jog to a park. Sure, I resembled the sound of a freight train as I chugged up some hills, but I found out real quick how necessary a little exercise was for my personal sanity. When they got older and too heavy for the stroller I found some exercise videos to do while they watched a show. It's not my favorite form of exercise--but something is better than nothing, right? AND now they've come out with so many cool new ones that give you optimal heart beat levels (I'm really lousy at this) in only 25 to 30 minutes. Sometimes my boys would join me and-- as I've heard my fitness enthusiasts friends talk about-- it's good for our kids to see us taking care of ourselves. These days, I'm in a sweet spot. I can actually go out for a jog --I'm more motivated if I can be outside (it still ain't pretty) or a bike ride or hike after I take my boys to school and get it done and move on with my day. I can testify that a little exercise gives me more energy for the other things I need to do and I feel better --my posture is better, I feel stronger and yes, those endorphin's help me immensely in not feeling so stressed and weary and whiny (Super Rock Star really appreciates this, I think).
Just like with anything I think it's best to start slow and move up. Years ago (WAY before I had children) I had made up my mind that I wanted to start training to run a marathon (I know, right?). But, I didn't start by going out and running 26.2 miles the first day. I started with running around the block (it's all I could do at the time) and then week by week I increased my radius until I was up to doing some measurable distances and actually did complete a half-marathon. No, I never did get to run my full marathon--I got pregnant and then just sort of lost interest in it. My point is, I had to start somewhere. As we are beginning yet, another new month in this year I would like to encourage you as well in this. It's okay if, like me, exercise is not your thing. But hey, find your motivation--go for a walk in the rain or snow (bundle up) (make sure it's not blizzard conditions like it is here today), get a treadmill (I got one for $20 on Craigslist) and walk it out while you listen to your favorite music or watch a show, join a gym and take advantage of their child care while you go pound out some frustrations, socialize with some other people and recharge. Remember--something IS better than nothing. If it's 5 minutes or 55 minutes or 5 hours (let's not get fanatical).