Sunday, February 17, 2013

By Jove, I Think I've Found It!

I know I've written several diatribes lately (and yes, 'lately' is a relative term!) about my health and discoveries I've made about food and how to nourish my body better. Now that that's become more second nature for me, I finally decided it was time to do something about my lack of meaningful movement.

I have a desk job. Granted, I'm up and running around a fair amount some days, but other days, I'm stuck behind my computer for hours on end. Along with learning more about food and nutrition and such, I've also been reminded that the human body was not designed to sit on its butt all day. We were designed to be hunters, gatherers and fighters.

Sure, everyone knows that sitting on ones butt too much causes said butt to become larger. But in a lot of cases, mine included, it also contributes to all sorts of other stuff. Not only have I gained weight, but for the past year or more, I've felt my overall anxiety level skyrocket. I notice I get winded a lot easier than I used to. My resting heart rate is at least 10 beats higher than it was a few years ago. Sometimes when I get up in the morning and jump immediately in the shower, it feels like my heart might pound out of my chest.

These are not good feelings! I have long abused my body and forced it into sedentary habits and it's showing me that it's not happy about it. Our bodies are nifty that way - something's wrong, it'll try to tell us. But we have to be willing to listen. For a long time I've been turning a blind eye because it was more rewarding somehow to sit on my butt.

No more!

Oh, who am I fooling. I still spend a good amount of time on my butt. BUT (get it?), I finally came to terms with the fact that I can't seem to climb on the treadmill I have in my house. Nor the exercise bike. For many years, I've thought it would be silly to pay for a gym membership when I have some equipment right in the house. But the truth is, there are so many other things that need to get done, or that I would rather be doing.

So with a knot in my stomach, I signed up for a one-year contract at a local gym. Hubby and I decided we'd get a couples membership and then take turns, alternating days and going after the kid is in bed. I was so nervous that this would be a waste of time and money, and just one more failure in my attempts to get healthier.

We decided that the day we signed up would be 'my' day - I'd go first. With the kid safely tucked into bed, I donned my workout pants (yay Old Navy!) and hopped into the car around 8:00. The gym is only a 5-7 minute drive, which is nice. So by 8:10, I was sitting in my car, outside the gym, trying to convince myself to go in. I hadn't belonged to a gym since high school and the thought of going at all - let alone all by myself - absolutely freaked me out.

I could see the skinny bodies running on the treadmills inside. My brain went into hyperdrive: "Geez, I'm going to look like a walking stereotype in there. Here comes the fat girl who made a new year's resolution (even though this was early February) and she'll be gone in a week." "Wow, what is she doing here, she's a lost cause." "Yuck, no one wants to watch that." "Her poor husband."

Why do our minds play these tricks on us? Here I was, ready to make a commitment to myself, my husband, my son, my family, my LIFE... and my brain was pulling out all the stops to try to get me to give up before I even started. I even found myself dwelling on the fact that I didn't even know how to turn the treadmills on. What if I got in there and everyone laughed at me as I stared at this machine, bewildered?

I texted three different members of my support system looking for something to push me over that edge and compel me to head inside. They are all wonderful. They all said things that really helped me. Hubby offered me an 'out,' saying to just come home, he'd take his turn the next night and then come home and fill me in on how everything worked so that I wouldn't feel so anxious. I told him I wasn't giving up. It was a work night, but I told him I was going to sit there a bit longer and find a way.

I ended up sitting in my car for over 45 minutes fighting with my own brain. Suddenly, I don't know where it came from, but a wave rose up in me and I decided to override the messages my brain was sending me and just DO IT. I marched in there like I owned the place (heart racing, stomach in knots), I walked over to a treadmill and climbed on. I might add at this point that they are remarkably easy to figure out. Ha! I just started walking and decided I'd just go easy on myself the first time, get used to everything, and then I'd have two whole days to build up the courage to do it again.

I rarely made it longer than 15 minutes on my treadmill at home. Like I said, too many distractions. Too many excuses. No real incentive to do it. I turned on the TV monitor on the treadmill at the gym, tuned out everyone around me (I'd forgotten my earbuds, oops! No music!) and just walked. Next thing I knew, I'd gone 15 minutes and was feeling really good. I could feel my stomach starting to un-knot. I started to smell victory (or maybe that was sweat??). I went for 30 minutes my first try. I even gave the elliptical machine a whirl - made it about 5 minutes and decided not to over-do it.

I rocked it.

I went to the gym, by myself, and worked out next to skinny people. And not only did I live to tell the story, I felt like a rockstar.

I've been to the gym every other day since, with the exception of one day that my stomach was really upset. I am slowly but surely increasing my workouts. Every time I go, I'm reassured that no one is watching, no one is judging, and we're all in this together. There really isn't an adversarial relationship between me and the skinny people. Most of them seem quite nice. I wish I had realized this 15 years ago. Ha!

Here we are, two weeks into my gym membership, and I'm already starting to 'cross over.' Last night was my night, but I had a horrifically annoying day. Just one of those days when you want to rip your hair out. All day I tried not to think about having to go workout that night because I didn't want to think up any excuses not to do it. Then, gym time came. I was shocked to discover that rather than dreading it, I was actually looking forward to it. My anxiety was up, but I just knew that time on the exercise bike (or something) would remedy that much better than popping a pill. And I'd rather not take the pills anyway.

I could feel my brain tugging at me, trying to convince me that I shouldn't go.

It pulled out all the stops.

I gave it the finger and got in the car.

An hour later, I felt amazing. And the next day, I'm still in shock. I'm becoming a gym person. If you'd asked me a month ago if that was possible, I would've laughed in your face.

Gym people seem to be healthier and happier than I've been in a while.

I can't wait.