Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why I exercise...

I'm going to be very upfront about something.  You won't be seeing a picture of me in a sports bra and boy shorts on social media any time soon. I've noticed this trend popping up lately as everyone shows their before and after pics but I'm pretty modest.  That's not to take away from the people who get a lot of pride and motivation out of posting these pictures but it's just not for me. And there's a context issue. While I'd be comfortable on the beach in my bathing suit with whoever, I just don't want pictures of a scantily dressed me popping up on a Facebook feed next to my cousin's newborn baby and a recipe for gluten-free lasagna.  But these before-and-after pictures are generally posted with an emphasis on working out, weight loss and eating more nutritiously -- all of which are really good things.

Because as much as I wish I could eat mass quantities of Broad Street Dough and NEVER exercise, I think that eating healthily and exercising is really important.  Not just so you whittle yourself away to nothing, but so you're strong, happy and possess an energy level higher than that of a snail.  For the past 4 months, I have been exercising at least four times a week which is massive, considering the number of times I exercised from September to January was ZERO.

And I hate exercising. I mean, I really, REALLY hate it. I hate it more than the NJ Housewives, the wardrobe of Miley Cyrus and Goldschlager combined.

While I'm on a run, I waver between feeling like I'm being tortured and praying that no one is watching me.  It's awful. Like really, really awful.

When I take my weekly karate class, I curse under my breath as I'm made to do squat thrusts, spar guys twice my size who bat me away like a fly and plank for two minutes at a time.  "Why am I DOING THIS to myself?" I wonder angrily, thinking I could be home curled up with a book, a wheel of brie and a box of chocolates from the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe.

However, as much as I truly HATE AND DESPISE working out, I love having exercised.
For realz, after I'm done running around Meadow Ridge, covered in sweat and red faced, gulping water and drooling on myself, I feel like a million bucks. On any given Saturday afternoon after I've finished letting karate masters far superior to me kick me up and down the dojo, my legs sore and my shirt sticking to me, I feel like the goddamn queen of the world.

So as much as I think exercise is cruel and unusual punishment I love the way I feel when I've done it for the day.  I know it has great physical benefits from healthy heart to strength in your muscles to higher energy levels (not to mention sliding into, rather than shoehorning yourself into, your skinny jeans) but the emotional benefits for me are far better. If something was worrying me before I went for a jog, it seems less important.  My mood is elevated and I'm less likely to bite the kids heads off when they spill an entire bottle of grape juice on the couch. I'm a better listener. More likely to smile.  More apt to feel at peace. And did I mention how much better my skinny jeans fit?

A recent New York Time article reveals:

"The sweet spot for exercise benefits, mostly by walking, is 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised. At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined."

So apparently, I'm also going to live forever!  And alls I have to do is walk for over an hour a day.

I used to drive 6 blocks to the park. Now I throw Little D in the stroller and I walk. I never used to play soccer or basketball with my son, content to let his dad handle that I sat nearby as the cheering section. Now I jump right in and let him give me a run for my money. 

For me, exercise is not about making extra weight on my body disappear, although that's a nice fringe benefit. It's about appreciating my body and letting it do what it's capable of. Not hating my body for not being a perfect and skinny size 4, but loving my body for it's beauty, it's speed, it's strength. 

It's about making time to move my body and being grateful, in fact, I am not too old, or too sick or too injured to move my body through running, karate or sometimes dance.

When I get up at 6:10 to get in my jog, my daughter will sometimes get up and ask "Why you goin' JOGGING?" and I tell her that I'm doing it to be healthy and happy.  Because as much as I don't like the feeling of exercising while I'm doing it and as much as I'm a natural bookworm, not a natural athlete, I like how my body and mind feels when I'm through putting my body through its paces.

And not to mention, a little known fact is that the more calories you burn off exercising the more freshly baked cupcakes you can consume without your cholesterol skyrocketing.   


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