Friday, January 15, 2010

Happiness Project: Exercise

I'm following along on Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project challenge. Here's my fourth installment:

I was very sorry to have missed Gretchen Rubin’s book tour stop in Brookline this week – as much as I wanted to go, I'm still trying to shake this cold and not only did I not want to be out late in freezing temperatures, I also did not want to subject the other attendees to my coughing fits. It sounds like it was a packed house, though!

So…the second Happiness Project challenge was to get more exercise. Honestly, I was trying to carefully craft my “energy” focus so that I could avoid exercise. I mean, I’ve been avoiding it for years – decades, really, since they first started requiring gym class (I think I was in 4th grade at the time). I’m the sort of person who was GIDDY over the prospect of having 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed in high school, because it got me out of gym for a whole week while I had stitches in my mouth. There’s a part of me that would like to be the perky girl who gets out of bed and runs 3 miles before work, or goes to a 6 am yoga class…but there’s a much stronger part of me that insists upon whacking the snooze button.

I’m also incredibly klutzy. Several years ago I bought a treadmill and promptly fell off, pulling a quad muscle and hurting my knee, resulting in months of physical therapy. Then I took a yoga class for awhile, and everybody would be all blissed out doing their poses when there’d be this big thud from the back of the room – I’d fallen over again. A few months ago I signed up for a Zumba class and couldn’t keep up, as I was too busy tripping over my own two feet.

There are also just infinitely more interesting things I’d rather be doing with my time. If there was a way to walk on a treadmill while knitting or quilting, I’d be there in a second.

But, alas, here I am, 38 and overweight and Something Must Be Done. I’ve been seriously lucky in that I have had not developed any weight-related diseases, but I fear the clock is ticking on that one. It’s just a matter of time before something goes awry, and while I suppose that’s true for all of us, it will really annoy me if I wind up checking out early because I can’t stop eating chocolate.

Nevertheless, I whined and wrung my hands and insisted it just wasn’t possible to find a baby step, I couldn’t possibly start a full-on exercise program, and it’s just so….well, TRENDY to do it NOW of all times, and I don’t know where on earth I could find the time, I barely practice my guitar as it is, and I really need to reorganize my fabric and yarn stashes…oh yes, I used every excuse I could possibly think of.

Then I remembered that the challenge was to get MORE exercise, not become a triathlete overnight. And when the only exercise you get is walking ~6 blocks a day between work and the train station, it’s pretty easy to increase one’s efforts. So I stopped whining. I briefly (but seriously) considered the Couch-to-5K program, despite the fact that I have never been able to run much more than 10 feet without hyperventilating. However, after reading a number of blogs and articles on the program, I decided that I needed more of a Floor-to-Couch-to-5K program first; I need to strengthen my knee and lose some weight before even thinking about a running program.

So, my baby step is hauling out my weights and stretch bands from physical therapy and using them when I watch TV. [Months ago, I realized that watching too much TV was a bad thing for me – it leaves me feeling depressed and lethargic – so I restrict myself to one hour per night during the week.] I plan to do this for a few weeks and then graduate to the small gym in the basement of my apartment building, which has recombinant bikes, treadmills and a cross-trainer. I’m also signing up for a once-a-week evening yoga class that starts at the end of February.

I can’t say that I am off to a roaring start on this one. To tell you the truth, I’ve slacked off a lot this week from all of my little baby steps…still trying to get over this pesky cold that has me feeling totally run down. I think one of my personal truths is “don’t try to make any life changes when you’re sick”. Hopefully a long weekend will help me catch up again.

The next challenge is organization…the only thing I do less than exercise. Oh dear me.

If you are in the need of inspiration, please visit Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's website, where over 1,000 knitters from around the world are making me proud to be human as they rack up the donations to Doctors Without Borders.

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