Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Exercise for Non-Exercisers Part One - Cardio

Listen, I look forward to exercising about as much as I look forward to packing... I find as many things as possible to fill my time before guilt and boredom force me into a cardiovascular mood. Hey, it's whatever works for you, right? I don't love exercising and, even though it is easier to maintain a fitness routine once you begin, it's a hell of a lot easier to just stop working out anytime you want.

Then why exercise at all? So you  can live longer; so you can look and feel good; so you can lift heavy media mail at the post office without withering in shame from the looks of those around you; so you can punch your husband in the arm and actually make it hurt the next time he laughs at the way your triceps just dangle back and forth when you wave at him; so you can outrun a rapist; so you can dance all night - the reasons are endless. The hardest part is the beginning - finding something that will motivate you to log off Facebook, squeeze into a sports bra, and lace on some sneakers.

As aforementioned, my motivator is boredom. Since I'm not working at the moment I have a lot of extra time on my hands. I get to a point every single day, usually in the early evening, where I start to pace around the condo restless. That's my sign to start working out. But that doesn't mean my motivation has always been boredom. Motivation changes! Chris' motivation for exercising is to avoid atrophy of the muscles from studying too much. One of the best reasons to break out the fitness is, and I'm quoting Ellen DeGeneres on this (no shame), "my haters are my motivators." 

Yes I know she was talking about LGBT issues, but that phrase can work for any vendetta. You know what people who hate on you really hate? When you start looking better than you already do; when you start looking better than they do; when other people start noticing how damn good you're looking...haters hate that shit. And those who don't hate on you love you regardless of what your body looks like, so no need to bother using them as a motivator. Like I said, whatever works for you.

Once you've decided on something that will motivate you to start working out you need to choose an exercise that is realistic to your level of fitness. Set the bar low. If you've never really been active in your life, don't attempt to run a mile, not even half a mile. Just start walking. Walk everyday for at least fifteen minutes then gradually increase your pace and time. But make sure you're actually panting and sweating, if not then you have to push it harder. Eventually you'll just get bored of walking and you'll feel like running. And then don't run, jog lightly. Then increase your pace and distance and on and on until you're actually running. This process will vary from person to person because, you know, we're all fucking different.

I was never the runner in my family. My sister was on the track and field, cross country, and soccer teams in high school, and eventually she ran a full marathon. My brother was in the Marine Corps so he became accustomed to running. I, on the other hand, preferred dancing and swimming. As a swimmer you never feel the sweat because you're in water so it seemed easier to me than running. And dancing (never professionally but enough to burn calories) is fun so it doesn't seem like exercise, it's just practice for a fun night at the club.

When I moved to Miami the gym that I joined didn't have a lap pool so I was forced to find some other form of exercise. Again, my motivator then was boredom because I couldn't find a full-time job and Chris was a full-time student. So I started going to morning spin classes and I became hooked. Sitting on a stationary bike for an hour is easier than running (I thought), plus the music was fun so it was like dancing on a bike. I did that for almost a year and then I got a job. Since I couldn't take spin classes in the mornings anymore I tried to go to the evening classes but they were always full by the time I arrived and I didn't want to wait around for half an hour like everyone else, so I stopped going to them altogether. In fact, I just stopped exercising. And it happens to everyone. You're on a roll and then something comes along that knocks you off  the path and you struggle to get back on and then just give up entirely and curl into the fetal position for months. Sometimes we need that break. Eventually you'll find your motivator and get back on.

At that point in my life Chris was going to the gym regularly to sweat out his stress. He always bothered, harassed, asked me to go with him and I usually declined but one day I finally went and slowly jogged at the treadmill next to his. I realized that jogging wasn't as horrendous as I thought it would be, especially if listening to fun music on good headphones. So I started jogging at an easy pace a few times a week and eventually felt strong enough to full-on run. I've since built up to running three times a week, three miles each time, at a slight incline. It's not Olympian status by any means, but it keeps me satisfied and motivated. I'm going to start training for the Vegas half-marathon in September - keeping it real and simple. I don't need to pretend to be a hardcore athlete when I'm not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Getting fit and staying fit... like a mofo! I'm glad that we're able to go for little runs together in the evening. Nice way to wind down and eliminate much of the noise that the rest of the day seems drowned in. Thank you for the great read as always and your triceps look like they are getting stronger!