Just What I Was Afraid Of

About four and a half years ago, Gary and I began running and our journey toward fitness and a healthier lifestyle.  For the first several months, I worried that I would quit because that’s what I had always done.  I would get excited about exercise, and then after a few weeks, I would skip a workout, and then another, and soon I just gave it up altogether.  Only four years ago, I didn’t stop.  I kept running until soon I could run 13.1 miles.  I kept running, and friends joined me.  I kept running, and began having others ask for my advice.  We also biked and did some other at-home workouts, and after a couple years, I added Zumba to my workout routine.  Fast forward to Summer 2013, and Gary and I are both instructors at Everbody’s Fitness.  Heck, we two used-to-be-out-of-shape-middle-aged-non-athletes even attended – and survived – a fitness conference.  And now it’s stopped.

Four and a half years later and I am totally struggling with motivation.  We are still coaching a Biggest Loser team, but I need it as much as our team members.  I am back to teaching Zumba, but there are five other days in the week I am not exercising.  Oh, I have excuses.  We have been crazy busy with Addison’s golf and band, and I have a new teaching position this year that is keeping me incredibly busy.  But realistically, I feel worthless.  After my surgery, I was unable to exercise for a few weeks, and that quickly got me out of the habit of making time to workout.  I still can’t do what I really want to do, which is run, so I just don’t do anything.  Every day I tell myself that tomorrow I will do a DVD I bought at the conference, and every day I find some lame reason to avoid it.  Each day I say that the following day I will eat better.  I usually have those little discussions with myself after I’ve seen the number increase on the scale or when I put on a skirt or pants that are too tight.  That seems to be happening a lot.

As I was teaching Zumba last Tuesday night, reality stared me in the face; I was in a mirrored studio for 45 minutes.  All I could see was my once-toned-now-flabby belly and the love handles that are making a repeat appearance.  I worked my ass off that night, and have done nothing since.  Next week I begin teaching Tabata Bootcamp.  I have my group of 15 participants, but I don’t know if they all realize that they will be helping me as much as I help them.  I am going to be working that bootcamp just the same as all of them, and I hope it’s just what I need to get my head back in the game.

I still question whether or not I will be able to run again.  I guess only time will tell.  The thought of starting over from the beginning is something I find nauseating.  It took years to gain the endurance and speed (I use that term lightly) I was finally proud of, and only a few months to lose it completely.  I haven’t had a good run since early April.  I so envy all those who are training for the Evansville Half Marathon, a race I PR’d at last fall.  My husband will be running, and several of our friends will be running their first half marathons that day, so I plan to be at the finish line cheering them on.  I have to admit, though (and my husband can attest to this), the last time I did this it didn’t go so well.  I was so depressed that I wasn’t running that I couldn’t enjoy the race at all.  I was actually a big baby.  I can’t say that I won’t be a little (or extremely) sad, but I will be equally proud of those who thought they’d never run a 13.1, and will cross that line.  I remember my first time…it was incredible!

I don’t share this blog for sympathy or accolades.  I share it because I want everyone who is struggling to know that we all struggle at some point.  Even those of us who have been working at this whole fitness thing for a long time have days when we want to eat every sweet and every chip we see.  We have days we go through Walmart and shop in the middle (supposedly the healthy foods are all on the perimeter of the store).  We have days we eat pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fried potatoes for supper (well, it was really good).  And then we suck it up and get back to business.  It’s time for me to suck it up.  It’s time for me stop sucking it in.  Tomorrow.  I’ll start tomorrow.

Getting My Mojo Back

It’s been three weeks and three days since surgery.  It seems much longer.  It’s been three weeks and four days since I really exercised, and I am beginning to really miss my workouts.  Tuesday I decided to go for a walk after a meeting at school.  I wanted to listen to my music, and see if I could walk a little quicker than I had been.  I put on my neglected workout clothes, plugged in my earbuds, turned on my running jams, and headed out on my favorite route.

My knee felt great!  I walked three miles, and for two of those miles I maintained a 15-minute pace.  That’s a pretty quick walking pace.  I was into my running playlist, evening singing along at times, and I didn’t really care who heard me.  I had my mojo back!  I was sweating and working hard!

As I trotted along, singing, I had some of my strange-and-uninteresting-very-random thoughts.  Have you ever wondered what  you would do if you knew no one would see you?  I am not talking about what you do in the privacy of your home (some things are better left in private), but when you’re out and about, and suddenly get the urge to do something childish.  That’s one of the things I was thinking about as I walked along (at my very super-fast pace).  Here is what I would have done if I really did not care what anyone thought (there were a lot of walkers, runners, and bikers out that day who might have reported a short crazy lady to the police had I given in and tried everything that crossed my mind).  I would have picked an orange flower from a bush along the path, and put it in my ponytail just for fun.  I would have stopped and danced to a couple of Zumba songs.  I would have continued to sing loudly, even when I passed people, just because I like the songs.  I would have asked the guy who was fishing if he was catching anything, and watched him for a bit.  I would have played on the swings for a few minutes.  Aren’t there little things that your inner child wants to do, but your boring adult self says are unacceptable – especially when you are by yourself?  Why can’t we sing out loud if the mood strikes us?  Why can’t we dance when the song is perfect?  Why do we have to be so adult all the time?

If you see me out walking or running, you might just hear my off-key voice singing some Pink song, or notice my hands are actually doing dance motions.  You might see me talking to some random stranger because something about her interests me.  Life is too short to be serious all the time.  We all work hard, try to make our communities better, provide leadership for our youth, and act like grown-ups at work.  We need to take some time to sing and dance.  We need to have fun without fear of what ‘they’ might say.  Who the heck is ‘they’ anyway?

Oh, and my knee?  It hurt like crazy the next day.  My mojo just came for a brief visit.  But it’ll be back!  Next week, I will attempt to run.  And I’m gonna sing when I do it!

16 Days Post-Op…Losing Patience

I am not a patient person, but it’s expected because patience runs thin on my mom’s side of our family.  It is one of my character flaws, but since I am basking in mid-life, I have just accepted it.  And so I am 16 days post-op, and recovering as expected – by the doctor; I expected a miraculous healing.  I am getting around quite well, but then I forget I just had surgery, and I do something careless,, like try to kneel or squat.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not Catholic.  At my post-op checkup, I was told I would not be able to kneel for three or four months.  That might not seem like a big deal, but, seriously, have you ever tried to clean a toilet without kneeling?  Wipe up a floor by bending at your waist?  Squat, you say?  Nope.  I can’t do that either.  I have forgotten I can’t do that, and have squatted down to pick something up, and then pain shoots from my kneecap to every single nerve in my hip, foot, and leg.  And then I remember I can’t squat.   Sunday I simply wanted to sit on the couch.  Sometimes I plop down with my legs underneath me.  I tried this, and again, my knee can’t bend that far back.  I made some primal  (is that a word?  Like a sound that comes from a primate?  Pretend it is.) moan causing my husband to ask what I had done.  Ugh…I just wanted to sit down without propping my leg on a pillow.

I was told I could begin to ease back into exercise, beginning with a little walking, biking, and swimming.  Honestly, I am scared.  My knee still hurts, and the thought of turning bicycle pedals makes my belly turn.  I suck at swimming, so I decided I would go for a walk with my friend and coworker Kelly.  I knew she’d bring her kids in a stroller, which would (hopefully) make her walk a little slower than normal.  We walked over two miles, and I made it, but it was hard.  To go from being able to run 13.1 miles, to barely being able to walk – slowly – two miles is slightly discouraging.  Hell, it’s downright maddening.  But it was nice to have some time in the great outdoors with my friend.  Positive…positive…positive!

Yesterday was my daughter’s first high school golf match.  I don’t like golf.  At all.  Won’t ever.  Yes, I’ve played.  Hated it.  But, being the devoted mother I am, I drove out to Christmas Lake to cheer her on.  And then I found out you cannot cheer in golf.  You may softly utter, “Good Ball’.  That little phrase doesn’t make sense to me.  What’d the ball do?  It was a good shot, good drive, nice putt.  Good ball?  I have lots to learn.  Anyway, the coach from the other team told us we could rent a cart for $5.  I considered it, but then thought I could get a little exercise, and none of the other moms were being wimpy and getting a cart, so I walked.  For three hours I walked up and down hills and stood.  That was one of the most ignorant things I’ve done in a long time (other than purchasing the wrong Cubs tickets).  I was hot; there were bugs; my knee hurt; and I was bored out of my mind.  Golf moves at a snail’s pace.  No, slower.  One hole could take 20 minutes.  By the time I got home, my knee ached like crazy, and it actually hurt all night long, which it hasn’t done since right after surgery.

Tomorrow we have another match at the same place.  And, yes, I will be there with my timid little voice, trying not to make jokes or holler, “Way to go, Babycakes!”, and driving a cart.  I will take a book to read or papers to grade, and I will follow my little princess around in a golf cart.  I will find joy in the moment (probably in the form of a Diet Mountain Dew and a candy bar).   I will rest my knee.

I am supposed to be able to run in a couple more weeks.  Today, I can’t even imagine that.   I am pretty hesitant to try much of anything.  The doctor said I won’t hurt anything, but I could slow recovery, which is just what I don’t want to do.  Getting back in shape is going to be rough.  It takes so long to get into good shape, but gosh, it goes quickly once you stop working out.  I won’t be able to teach Zumba for a few more weeks, and I really need feel good about my mobility before taking it on again.  There is so much I want to do right now.  Gary is working out often, so he’s gone a lot, and I am stuck here.  Maybe next week I’ll get brave and attempt the elliptical.  Woo hoo.  I’d have to be desperate to look forward to an elliptical!

After all is said and done, I am healthy, healing, and blessed.  I spoke with my friend Rob today, and he is currently battling cancer – and winning.  He has the best attitude, believes in the power of prayer, and has been fighting like hell.  If he can take on that challenge without complaining, I think I need to get over myself, be glad I only have a knee injury, and quit whining.  Well, I will quit whining about recovery, but will likely continue to whine about golf until mid-September.   To Rob…You keep up the good fight!   Our family, particularly Morgan and Bethany, have been blessed to have you and Angela in our lives.  We, along with countless other Prayer Warriors, will keep on praying!

Peace and Love….

We Survived Atlanta Mania!

This past weekend, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend Atlanta Mania, a conference for the fitness industry held in Atlanta.  Gary and I arrived a day early so we could each be certified to teach new classes.  Gary was certified in Schwinn Indoor Cycling, and I was certified in Tabata Bootcamp.

Tabata

My Tabata course was tough!  Over the course of the day, we didn’t spend an extreme amount of time working out, but the workouts we did were intense.  When I went in, I thought I was in decent shape; by the end of the day, I’d changed my mind.  Every inch of my body ached; I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  It was much like an education training in that we received so much information, and then we had to figure out how to implement the program upon our return to the real world.  I was frustrated because there were some exercises I couldn’t do, or I couldn’t do the entire time, so I wondered how I was supposed to teach it.  I never expect people with whom I am working out to do anything I can’t or wouldn’t do.  I had a lot to work on!  Then I began to wonder if I was in over my head.  I had three more days of classes – workouts – and feared I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

bosu

Friday morning my first class was Bosu.  We used the Bosu balance trainers (left).  I wasn’t in a very good mood when the class began, but the instructor, who was a buff lady, was incredible.  She made the workout fun, and worked us hard.  By the end of the class, my mood had improved tremendously, and I was ready to take on the day (more often than not, a good workout will do that!).

Later in the day, I spoke with one of the other instructors from the gym, and she told me she took a Tabata class, and she couldn’t do everything either.  That made me feel much better because she is in terrific shape, and she is young!  Speaking of age, there were people of all ages at this conference.  It was so motivating to see men and women older than I who were in fabulous shape.  I have this weird obsession with arms and shoulders.  I just love beautifully sculpted arms, not body-builder-steroid-ingesting muscles, but toned and shapely arms.  I saw plenty of them in Atlanta.  I want arms like that, but have never gotten into a routine that would bring about those results.

arms

On Friday, I also went to a Flirty Girl Fitness class.  I chose this class because it is dance fitness, and I thought I could get some choreography to use in Zumba.  While the instructor was great, and I did like some of the moves, overall it just wasn’t for me.  It was just what the title implies – flirty.  That isn’t me.  Some of the moves were just too cutesy.  On Sunday I tried a 2-Fly Fitness class, which is also dance fitness.  I lasted through two songs.  It was a hip-hop style dance.  As soon as I walked in and saw the girls with the crotches of their pants to their knees, I began to question my choice.  I knew not to judge on appearance, so I gave it a chance.  Once the music started, I didn’t like it either, so I stayed for two songs, and decided my knee had had enough, and I didn’t really want to work up yet another sweat doing something I didn’t like at all.  I took two different Zumba classes, and if I can remember any of the choreography, I will work it into our songs.

kettlebell

The class I most feared was HIIT Kettlebell.  I know the limits of my upper-body strength, and thought I would struggle to even lift the kettlebell, let alone swing that sucker around.  The instructor was the same woman who taught the Bosu, so when I walked in, I immediately relaxed.  I learned that the strength needed in kettlebell comes mostly from one’s legs, not the arms.   It ended up being one of my favorite classes.  I got a DVD and bought a new kettlebell so I can practice at home.  I will likely use this as a station in boot camp (after I improve at it!).

Mindy Mylrea is the developer of Tabata Bootcamp, and was my instructor on Thursday.  This woman has been in fitness over 30 years, and is a dynamo.  She is knowledgeable, entertaining, and energetic.  I took a few more of her classes over the weekend.  One of my favorites was a kids’ fitness class on Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.  It was a blast!  She had so many incredible ideas to get all kids involved in fitness.  I think that the 100 adults had as much fun playing the games as any kids would.  We pretended to be animals, closed our eyes and wandered around trying to locate our partners, and dragged each other around on the floor.  I learned several games and activities that I will use with my eighth graders.

I also took four lecture classes (I signed up for five, but skipped one due to exhaustion).  Three were on nutrition, which we all know, I NEED! The first one was very scientific, and being an English teacher, much of it was over my head.  He talked about the specific molecular process of breaking down certain foods.  He was very knowledgeable, and I did take away some important information, but I was just too tired to process biology.  Gary and I took a class called Meals and Musings.  The man who was the keynote speaker taught that class.  We learned about healthy foods, but he also cooked throughout the class.  Those of you who know me well, know I am not one to try new foods.  I don’t like many veggies, and I like my food pretty bland.  Gary leaned over and asked if I was going to try the lentil soup.  Yup.  I was puttin’ on my big-girl panties and actin’ all adult.  And, Surprise, I liked it.  He gave us the recipe, so I might even try to make it someday.

On Sunday, I took a class on successful weight-loss.  It was interesting, and not as scientific as the other nutrition class.  I need to go back through my notes, but I think that what I learned will aid in helping our Biggest Loser teams.  Our last class of the conference was about addiction.  The instructor taught about exercise, tobacco, alcohol,  drug, and sugar addictions.  It was a good course; she offered information on what goes on chemically in our brains that cause additions.  I determined I am addicted to caffeine.  As I write this, I sip Diet Mt. Dew.

That was our experience in a nutshell.  We returned home with loads of information, new ideas, and sore muscles.  But we also returned with renewed excitement to help others discover the joy and benefits of fitness.  Poor Addison has bore the brunt of our newfound knowledge.  I am constantly saying, “Hey, try this!  It’s really hard, but an awesome exercise!  No, really!  Get down on the ground and let me do push-ups and tricep dips on your back, and then you can do them on mine!”

If you get a chance, get on YouTube and look up Beyonce’s ‘I Was Here’.  The keynote speaker, Lawrence Biscontini, used this in his presentation.  It is about leaving your mark on the world; I will be sharing it with my eighth graders this year.  It’s an amazing reminder that we need to do for others so that when we leave this world, those left behind know we were here!

Lessons Learned

It seems my blogs get fewer and fewer as we get busier.  I figured I might as well take advantage of being home sick today.  I have been plannning to write about the next chapter in our fitness journey, and the lessons we have learned along the way.

The past four years, Gary and I have been working on creating a healthier lifestyle for our family.  We have been eating healthier, and though we are not always successful, gone are the Little Debbies (except the occasional Nutty Bar after a long run), the bags of chips, and desserts baked for no reason.  We also added exercise to our days.  First, we began to run and bike, and then the running pushed everything else aside.  We began to enter races, and have since run countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and I am preparing for my fifth half marathon.  Gary is training for his second marathon.  I became a Zumba instructor, and now teach four classes a week.  We, along with our daughters, have become active at the gym.  When we began we also wanted to set a positive example for our children.  It took a couple of years, but the girls are now exercising regularly, and have actually found joy in working out.

This winter, we began a new chapter in our lives.  Gary and I are now coaching a team in our gym’s Biggest Loser competition.  Gary won the first season of Biggest Loser last summer, so he was an obvious choice as a coach.  We decided we would coach together, and it has been an incredible experience.  We coach the orange team, and are so blessed to have so many dedicated members.  They have made working out fun.  While they have thanked us for helping them, I don’t think they have any idea what they have done for us.  Some of our members had never exercised in their lives, yet they have taken on every challenge we have given them.  They have mastered the treadmill and elliptical, suffered through their first spinning classes, danced the calories away in Zumba, built muscle in pilates, and consequently, lost weight and inches.  Stepping into a gym can be intimidating, even for those who are in shape.  Trying new classes isn’t easy.  One doesn’t really know what to expect when the music starts.  The orange team, along with all of the other Biggest Loser contestants – 180 of them! – have stepped up and met the challenge.  Their dedication and bravery has inspired me to keep going.  I am trying to learn as much as I can about living a healthy lifestyle so that I can share that information with our team.

While I will always be proud of the accomplishments I have seen through running and working out, the pride I have in our team members cannot be surpassed.  Getting their texts on weigh-in day, seeing their pride when they’ve gone just a little further or faster, and watching them laugh together as they sweat their butts off is so very fulfilling.  We have told them over and over that this is not a 12 week program; this has to be a lifestyle change.  We want them to make choices they can maintain.  They need to make food choices that they can keep long after the final weigh-in.  They need to find exercises that make them happy so they will stick with it even after they complete their Biggest Loser journeys.

I have to say, Everbody’s Fitness is an amazing place.  The staff and clients are so supportive of everyone.  We all, no matter our size or fitness level, are working for similar goals.  We want to be healthy and more fit.  We want to live active lives so we can keep up with our children and grandchildren.  We want to see just what our bodies can do when we step out of our comfort zones.  While one might be uncomfortable during that first trip to the gym, once he or she experiences the support, that discomfort will quickly dissolve.  We are all cheering for others at the gym.

The friendships I have made over the past year are invaluable.  I have made friends with fellow staff members, people who attend my Zumba classes, clients, and now our Orange Team.  These friendships will last because we have sweated together, opened up to one another, and because they bring me joy.  Orange Team, I am so stinkin’ proud of each of you!  I know that there have been times you’ve wanted to quit, but you haven’t.  I promise that you won’t regret sticking it out.  You would regret quitting.  Remember that first workout?  I told you that if it were easy, everyone would be thin and fit.  It isn’t easy.  It will likely be the hardest thing you ever do.  But it will also be the most worthwhile thing you ever do.  Promise.  And Gary and I will be here through it all, whether you want us to or not!

Now get off the computer and do something active!

Summer Workout(s)

ImageAs I write this post, I wonder where summer 2012 has gone.  My windows have not been cleaned, my cabinets are still unorganized, I haven’t made that trip to Indy to visit Bethany and Erin, and yet there are only three short weeks left of break.  I spent all day Tuesday at school getting my classroom ready, and have been reading some books at home to prepare for the new batch of inquiring minds that will be walking through my door soon.  I had a total of three weeks that I didn’t go into school this summer.  Addison feels the same as she had six weeks of being at the high school at 7:30 am four days a week for endurance training.  That ended yesterday, and band camps begin Monday.  And what have I done?

I have worked out.  A lot.  Gary is participating in the Biggest Loser competition at Everbody’s, our local gym, so he has a membership for three months while the competition takes place.  Since Addison has been lifting weights and working out, she also wanted a membership so that she doesn’t lose everything she has gained.  So now, we all have memberships.  Since I am supposed to begin teaching Zumba classes there at some point, it makes sense to belong and get to know the members.

Gary has been running, doing the weight machines, riding bikes and walking with me, and even going to a spinning class.  He has lost almost 30 pounds since he started changing his habits in the spring.  His dedication and Addison’s newfound knowledge of working out has rubbed off on me – or just made me feel guilty and lazy!  I have long envied Michelle Obama’s arms, but was never willing to work to get my own set of well-toned biceps.  I am finally taking steps to beef-up my wimpy arms (maybe my next challenge will be bodybuilding!).  I found that I like the machines at the gym.  I am also working on putting together my Zumba class, and have included a great deal of arm work in my choreography.

Because we have all of this going on, I have been working out two or three times a day.  I need to keep up on my running, so I am running in the mornings when I drop Addison off in town.  With this nasty heat we have had, I am running slowly, and taking many walk breaks. After my run, I sometimes head to the gym to do weights.  In the afternoon, I have to work on my Zumba choreography.  I have to have 11 or 12 songs choreographed and ready to go in order to teach a class, and am realizing that memorizing the moves is the toughest part!  I have everything choreographed (at least what I haven’t ‘borrowed’ from my friend and instructor Laura); now I just have to make sure I know each song well enough to teach.  The problem is, working on my class means working out, and Zumba is very high energy.  But it is fun!  I really do love it, and I can’t wait to begin teaching.  I am working to get a class started for the community through the Perry County Wellness program.  I am still attending Zumba class in Hawesville a couple evenings a week, and they have been kind enough to begin letting me lead a song or two so that I can get comfortable before teaching on my own.

Gary and I have also decided to make Friday nights our bike-ride night.  While good exercise, bike-riding is something we enjoy doing together.  It really has been fun working as a family to get fit.  We are trying to eat healthier; Gary has amazing willpower – I do not.  I am doing much better, but good nutrition has always been hard for me.  I cannot say I am not worried about how we will work everything in once I go back to work and we are heavy into band season.  I wish I was dedicated enough to workout at 5 am.  I used to run a couple days a week at that time, but just couldn’t stick with it.  I love to sleep.

As summer winds down – and hopefully takes the temperature with it – I appreciate the time I have had.  My house might not be spotless, and there is always, always sweaty, smelly laundry to do, I am stronger and healthier, and oh, so much happier.  What about you?  What do you do to feel strong?  What small change can you make in your life to live healthier?  Give yourself the gift of 20 minutes a day to become a better you!  You are so worth it!

Another First…

I have never belonged to a gym.  I didn’t think I would be dedicated enough to spend the money, and I could run outside with no cost (other than shoes and clothes for every season and a GPS watch and an Ipod…).  That all changed this morning.  Addison and I got up early, went to town, and joined Everbody’s Fitness Center.  There were several reasons for my decision.

First, Gary has a three-month membership because he is participating in their Biggest Loser competition this summer.  This is a great program for our community, and apparently 85 people agreed; that’s the number of participants.  Gary is working hard for his ‘blue’ team, and is very dedicated to his weight loss.

Another reason is that Addison wanted to join.  She has been participating in the strength and endurance camp at the high school, which is four days a week, two hours a day.  They have a ten-day break for the holiday week, and she was afraid she would lose what she has worked so hard to gain if she did not weight-lift.  I was going to wait until later this month when the camp was over, but since they are on a break, we decided to go ahead and get started.

My final reason to join the gym is that I am going to teach Zumba classes there at some point.  I was trained in April, but it is taking some time to prepare my music and choreography.  I am working hard to create movements that will provide a good workout for participants, and do not want to rush the process.  And at my age, remembering all the moves is taking some time!  I have told my husband that it isn’t like I can work all day on preparing; every time I work on choreography, I am working out.  I get tired!  I had planned to join the gym when I begin teaching, so I just got a jump start.

My hope is that if I do weight work and build up some muscle, I will be a stronger runner.  I know I will be able to get to the gym in the summer while I am off school, but I am going to have to make it a priority during the school year, while at the same time trying to maintain a running routine.  Really, I just don’t have time to work!  My dream job is to do what Kristen Armstrong does; she is an author.  If you don’t know who she is, she is Lance’s ex-wife, but more importantly, she is a runner, writer, and motivational speaker.  She has time to workout during the day, and then works on her writing from home.  I have read a couple of her books, and am in awe of her career.  She has a strong faith, an extremely supportive group of friends and workout partners, and a brother who steps in and helps out.

So, today it started.  Once Addison and I filled out the paperwork, we got to work.  Since she has been learning how to properly use the weights, she led and I followed (with much lighter weights!).  I have no upper body strength, though for years I have said I wanted ‘Michelle Obama’ arms.  I just haven’t been willing to put in the work to achieve those buff arms.  Maybe now is my time.  I just don’t like to do anything that hurts, and sometimes lifting weights hurts, or at least it is umcomfortable.  When I began running and it became uncomfortable (like when I took that first step), I would tell myself that if it were easy, everyone would do it.  That became my mantra, and it got me through some miserable runs.

I don’t know what machines I did; I just had Addison show me what to do, and did about ten reps per machine.  I didn’t hurt when I left, but we went outside to play badminton, and I could just tell I am going to be sore.  I guess that  is the only way I am going to make progress.  I also plan to try some classes.  I am particularly interested in trying spinning.  My niece – who is in great shape – went to a class, and said it was killer.  I will give it a try – I just hope I don’t start crying in the middle of class!  I am excited to begin teaching Zumba.  It is so much fun and a great workout.  I also like it because anyone can do it.  In the class I go to, there are women of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels.  Everyone does the workout in her own way.  As long as we are all moving, it’s fine.

Now, to get my eating under control…

Why Run?

I follow several fitness and running sites on Facebook, and they often ask why runners run.  It seems that each time they ask, I could give a different answer.  And sometimes I have no idea why I continue to run – those are the days running isn’t going so well.  There are so many reasons to run, or to participate in whatever type of exercise one prefers.  Some reasons are obvious; some are pleasantly surprising.  Since running is my exercise of choice, followed closely by Zumba, I decided to compile a list to not only encourage others to jump in that develop some type of work-out regimine, but also to try to motivate myself to keep on moving.

  • Obviously, running is good for my physical well-being.  It is an excellent cardio workout; it builds muscle; and it increases endurance.  I had proof of this when I had an EKG last year before having surgery.  The technician, upon reading my results, asked if I was a runner.  She said my heartrate is low, which is typical of runners.  Admittedly, I was quite proud that someone could tell I was a runner!
  • Running is excellent for my mental well-being.  I am rarely in a bad mood, and if I am, I can go for a run and return with a whole new outlook.  When I have had a stressful day at school, I know that a run will help relieve my stress.  I feel so refreshed after a run, even if it is just a short run.
  • Running builds confidence.  Knowing that at my age (45) I can run 13.1 miles, helps me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to.  We all suffer from self-doubt at some point, but setting goals and reaching them can encourage a person to press on during those moments of doubt.
  • Running is an efficient way to burn calories.  When I was trying to lose weight a couple years ago, I first tried walking.  I lost nothing.  Once I began to run, I was able to shed those unwanted pounds.  I figure I burn about 100 calories for every mile I run.  If I run an average of 20-25 miles a week, that’s 2000-2500 calories!
  • Running makes me appreciate my surroundings.  We are blessed to live in  a beautiful small town, and often I take that for granted.  When I get out and run, I notice the beauty of our town.  I have watched as Sam repaints the mural on the floodwall; I have enjoyed our greenways; I watch as winter turns to spring and the town seems to come alive.  I get to experience the outdoors during every season when not too long ago I spent much of my time indoors.  I have found that I enjoy each season.  I love running along the Might Ohio River and taking in the vastness of the water.  I smile when I hear students yelling, “Hi, Mrs. Stath!” as I run by their homes, and I hope that my running inspires them to remain active.
  • Running has brought me new friends, and strengthened the relationships I had with old friends.  Runners just understand one another, so we tend to stick together.  We understand the need to run, and how depressing it is when we can’t run.  We don’t mind when our friends are sweaty, smelly, and make-up free.  My running friends don’t get grossed out when I spit; I would never spit in front of my non-running friends.  When we run, we talk about everything, and we know it will never go any further.  We support one another; we push one another; we love one another.
  • Running mirrors life.  We have uphill battles that take every ounce of strength we can muster up, and we have days that we are running downhill and things seem to be going our way.  Some days running is easy and fun; some days it sucks.  There are days I feel amazing after a run, and days I can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.  Life really is a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul if we are lucky.  We have to set goals and work toward making life fulfilling.  I believe that God provides for us and gives us talents and abilities, but I also believe that we have to work our butts off to make those talents and abilities work for us.  Just as I have to constantly work with my abilities at work and in my home, I also have to work with my [limited] abilities when I run.  Running makes me live life better.
  • Running reminds me that I am not always in control.  There are days when I head to town for a run, and I am mentally prepared for a great long run.  Then I start to run, and my body does not cooperate.  My legs feel like I am running in mud, my breathing is labored, and I just can’t run.  While it is completely frustrating, I cannot control it.  Sometimes I can talk my way through those first couple of miles, and sometimes I just have to give in and hope for a better run next time.  We have to accept that not every run – or every day – is going to be perfect, and we have to start fresh the next day.
  • I run because I can.  Sometimes I forget what a blessing it is to be able to run, and then a conversation or a story reminds me that I am extremely fortunate that my legs will carry me through many miles.  Today I had a conversation with a friend whose husband is on the top of the list to receive a lung transplant.  Every day is a struggle.  I am sure that he would give just about anything to be able to get out and walk, let alone run.  Tomorrow when I run, I will be thinking of this couple, and I will appreciate each step I take.

Running has changed my life.  I am healthier, happier, and more productive.  When I begin to question my ability to keep running, someone thanks me for inspiring him or her to run or to get back into running, and I know I can’t give up.  If I can help even one person become healthier, the miles I put in are worth it!  So, why run?  Why not run?

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