Exercise for its own sake

I went for a walk last night.  A “real” walk, one where I climbed HUGE hills (because my neighborhood is full of them) at a fairly rapid pace, broke a little sweat, remembered how strong my legs are (even when I don’t exercise – partly from dancing so many years and partly from genetics), and found to my relief that I am NOT as out-of-shape as I was afraid I had gotten.

That doesn’t really seem like a big deal when I write it down.  I mean, it’s great in a “hey, good for me, I’m getting some exercise!” kind of way, but it’s not “STOP THE PRESSES!” you know?

Except that it is that big a deal for me.  See, I have only ever exercised when I was trying to lose weight, or to maintain a weight that was really too low for my frame.  Even though I actually do feel much better when I exercise, and even though I have an athlete’s body makeup and strength, I just don’t really do it much, unless weight loss is my ultimate goal.  I don’t exercise for its own sake: just because it feels good and is good for me.

But for the last 10 days or so, my body has been craving movement.  I’d come home and think, “Maybe I’ll do some yoga,” but then I’d get busy cleaning or fixing dinner and skip it.  I did that for about a week, and my body was starting to get royally pissed off.  But I wasn’t just blowing off the exercise impluse, to be honest.  Since the only time I have ever really exercised has been when I was trying to lose weight, that’s my association with exercise.  As soon as I start thinking, “I’ll go for a walk,” that insidious voice in the back of my head says, “Hey, maybe we’ll lose some weight!”  I think, “Maybe I’ll lift some weights,” and hear, “Muscle burns more calories!”  “I feel good when I do yoga!” leads to, “And look how skinny all those folks in the video are!”  It’s a call-and-response with the damn devil, for cryin’ out loud. 

So I haven’t been exercising, even though I’ve been wanting to.  I’ve been struggling so much with old thought patterns and head voices in the last few days that even though in some ways I know exercise would clear my head, I also know that in other ways, it just fucks with my head.  And since I’ve been struggling so much with the OTHER head voices – the ones about weight, and scales and food – I just haven’t felt like I had the wherewithal to deal with the exercise voice as well. 

So last night was a pretty big thing for me.  And it felt good.  It was cold out and I like the cold weather.  I climbed a bunch of hills, and although my right hamstring is protesting a little today, I did not collapse in an unfit heap and need to be taken to the emergency room.  (I’m kidding.  Sort of.) 

Part of the reason I figured I’d better get started is because I really want to run the Disneyland 5K (part of the Disneyland Half Marathon event) in August.  I decided to do it for several reasons.  The biggest two are:
1) I don’t really think I can do it.  I know intellectually that I can, but I don’t really BELIEVE it,  and
2) If I am working toward a specific goal, then the “exercise=weight loss” voice gets quieter, because I’m not exercising to lose weight – I’m exercising toward a specific, external event that is more about what my body can DO, and less about how little my body can BE.
At the moment, I can’t even recall the other reasons, to be honest, but I know that there were a couple more.  LOL

I’ve never really done much running, although I’ve really liked the little bit I HAVE done.  But I figured anyone could learn to run 3 miles, given 6 months, right?  I found a “Couch to 5K” plan that looked sensible on the Kaiser Permanente site (for their February 2008 marathon): it’s a 12-week plan, instead of a 6-week or 8-week plan, and it looks do-able to me.  But I’d like to give myself some leeway just in case I need to repeat a week here or there.  I figure I’ll get back in the habit of walking 4-5 days a week (though I’m starting with 3), and from there move into the running.  Initially I was thinking of joining a gym, but now I’m inclined to think that the hills in my neighborhood might actually HELP me when it comes time to run the flat course at Disneyland.  So I don’t know if I’ll end up joining a gym or not.  Right now I’m good with my neighborhood, and I can reevaluate as time goes on.

So there you go.  I got back to exercising – yay!  I found a way around the “exercise=weight loss” voice – yay!  And I’m doing something that’s hard and pushes me to redefine what and how I think of myself – HUGE yay!  So, yeah:  I guess this really IS a “STOP THE PRESSES!” kind of thing.



One response to “Exercise for its own sake

  1. Hey! I am back at the gym too, had a great spinning class today after 2 weeks of staying away…just didn’t have the energy or care really. But it feels great to be back doesn’t it? Keep up the great work! K.

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