In cooler climes, summer is the best for exercise and getting into shape. Being outdoors and doing stuff naturally causes activity. It’s fun and effortless.
Living in the South, summer is the worst. Three months of slinking from air conditioned car to air conditioned building and back again. It’s awful awful awful.
In the summer I’m a living example of how one can be a good weight but woefully out of shape. I may be reasonably thin, but there’s no way I’m healthy.
I know some things about myself. I’m basically lazy (this is one of the reasons I stuck with math so long– mathematicians are basically lazy). I have next to no willpower. I overheat easily. I get rashes when I sweat. I’m also allergic to most of the plants outside, including grass (I was tested!). I find most exercise interminably boring. If I sign up for a class I’m going to understand sunk costs and just not go because the discounted value of my time at the point of going to the class is always going to tell me that I should skip, even if it’s better for me in the long run. (And it’s not one of those things like work where I might avoid starting but then I enjoy it once I’m actually there. I hate exercise classes with a lazily violent passion.) Also, team sports give me bad flashbacks in addition to not being fun and taking time away from my family.
I like swimming. I like leisurely walks with the family. If we lived some place with altitude, I would enjoy hiking (I would be super healthy if we lived in Northern California). Biking isn’t bad but it isn’t particularly safe where we live (and I, um, don’t own a bike). I like walking to get to places, but we live in a suburban wasteland and I have no desire to attend Catholic church and I switched dentists. I dislike having to shave if I can help it (and some of my professional colleagues live in my neighborhood so I can’t just go around unshaven without getting a reputation at work). We do have a pool in the home owners association and a nice park with playground equipment and a little forest with a stream and nice walking paths, both within walking distance unless it’s really hot outside and then by the time I get there I’ve wilted.
And we’ve got some constraints. The temperature is ok for walking outside before 9am and after 7:30pm. (#1 is lucky. #2 is in a place where it doesn’t cool down much at night and the hottest part of the day is 6pm for some reason. #1 is not lucky– it’s actually hotter where she is, but she’s gotten more used to it. Checking the weather *right now* it is exactly the same temperature both places.) The kids have to be out the door pretty early in the morning (with me doing half the chauffeuring, which ends at 9:20 when I roll into my office parking lot) and me getting up earlier to exercise is not going to happen, not if I want to have any semblance of a brain for work throughout the day.
If I’m going to start exercising more regularly, I need to do two things: 1. I need to make it easy to exercise by removing all impediments to exercise and 2. I need to make it a routine. The best way is to get other people in the house to nudge me, but I can’t just rely on them because past experience has shown that it’s all too easy to say, “oh no, you guys go without me,” or “oh, no you go ahead and play that video game, we can do this some other time.”
I owned two swimming suits. One I got in college. The other one I got right after my 7 year old was born. I figured I could buy a new swimsuit or two at this point. Because I hate shaving, I got a rash guard top, which is pretty cool. Then I hit Land’s End’s 40% off swimsuit sale and got a skirt to go with the top and another suit that’s a dress. I’m liking these old-fashioned suits and the rash guards that are in style. I’m not sure anybody actually wants to show as much nether-region area as standard swim-suits show, especially those of us who don’t wax. (#2 reminds about radical self-love. #1 points out that radical self love has nothing to do with indecency. She can love showing her partner part of her body but not want to show that to her neighbors and colleagues.)
Also as I’ve been forcing these nightly walks, I’ve noticed that my two pairs of sandals are pretty worn down and not so comfortable for exercise. Putting on my hiking boots this time of year is out of the question. So I bought some Chacos. I’m bad at deciding, so I’m like, I want them in black, what is their most popular black sandal in my size and got that. Hopefully 7W fits… I’m much better with the European sizes and shoes than with the US sizes, but I’m somewhere in the 7-8 range. Update: I bought the wrong shoes– wasn’t careful about making sure I got a woman’s size 7…. I’m definitely not size 9W! Luckily Zappos really does have a super easy return policy. I’m going to try to hit a shoe store the next time I’m in a city. If I don’t make it I’ll try Zappos again.
So, impediments have been removed. The routine thing is still a work in practice. When it rains, the routine disappears as if it never happened and even if it’s nice the next day we completely forget to go out. About a week later we’ll get started up again on the walks. Fortunately DC2 loves the pool and reminds us to go in the morning on weekends even if we forget. And ze makes us stay longer than we would otherwise.
Anyway, wish me luck. My goal is to be less winded when I do the least amount of physical activity.
UPDATE: I’m really not looking for, “You’re doing it wrong” and “You’re not doing enough” advice right now. Really, I’m not. Because if I hear that enough I’m just going to stay sitting in the a/c in a chair, hitting reload on the internet because seriously, why bother at all? Please feel free to share what *you* do, but don’t tell me what to do. (If you do need to tell someone what to do about something, check out the previous post and give me your thoughts on window treatments.)
UPDATE 2: No, seriously, I DO NOT WANT ADVICE. Share your experience, but don’t give me advice on this topic. (Again, I do want advice on window treatments in the previous post.)
If you do regular exercise, how do you keep yourself doing it? What about those of you who hate most exercise? Do you do it anyway? How?
July 29, 2014 at 4:53 am
You should incorporate strength training and calisthenics into your routine to build strength, muscle mass, and flexibility. These briefer, but much more intense, efforts are less boring than steady light efforts like walking, and they also release more rewarding brain chemicals to help make it a habit.
July 29, 2014 at 6:12 am
or not, because exercise sucks
July 29, 2014 at 6:34 am
Body-weight exercises are just as useful for building/maintaining strength etc., and can be fun if you have small children. My dad used to play “washing machine” with us attached to his arms in the swimming pool: he would do trunk twists with his arms outstretched, and then would dunk us like lateral raises. Indoors we would play volcano eruption/earthquake: hold onto his back while he was curled into a ball, then he would pop up onto hands and knees and try to buck us off. My mom would play water taxi in the pool, swimming with us attached to her back.
July 29, 2014 at 6:40 am
We do plenty of that. It is impossible not to.
July 29, 2014 at 5:06 am
As a lazy mathematician, I do wish you luck! When my daughter was about the age of your kids, I did just about zero exercise, too, and I remember how EVERYTHING else seemed more fun/urgent/desirable than getting back in shape.
One of the things that worked for me was to sign up for races every few months. The race by itself wasn’t the motivator — it’s that because I hate spending money, I have some pretty ratty underclothes. So I promised myself that if I actually finished a race, that gave me “permission” to go buy a nice bra. Now that I write it, it sounds really weird and convoluted, but it made so much sense at the time.
Even now, the main reason I’m doing all the exercise I’m doing these days is because of the big race I promised myself I’d attempt at the end of August — and I keep telling myself over and over again that once this race is done, I am NEVER running or training by myself ever again. It sucks.
I’m really lucky that I have three different groups of friends who run or bike with me regularly. It’s the commitment I’ve made to them that keeps me going. When I’m not in race mode, I run and/or bike only with them. If they’re out of town, I just don’t exercise.
July 29, 2014 at 6:13 am
races are definitely motivating for a lot of people! I personally don’t get it, but maybe for people who aren’t allergic to their own sweat…
July 29, 2014 at 5:33 am
I, too, live in the South, am allergic to anything green outdoors. I was tested, too. When I sweat, I itch intensely and break out in hives. I cannot exercise at all right now, but in the past I have had two routines. For years, I would use TV commercial time to run up the stairs, sometimes two at a time. Since this is an old house with 10 ft ceilings, not only are the stairs tall with a landing, but the steps have a nice wide tread to run on and the rise is just right. I suppose I did that for ten years. Then, a few years later, I walked a half mile at 5:30 am and back. Then, I did the same thing at 9:30 pm. I know it’s not far, but I was walking farther than most people. That lasted six months.
In order not to be caught in a storm, there were days I just walked around the block for the one mile morning and night. I live in a neighborhood with many old trees, so I was afraid of one hitting me on the head or being struck by lightening. Neither of these exercise plans cost anything.
I did join a gym after an injury and before the surgery. For six weeks, six days a week, I exercised with machines. The trainer said I had muscles under my layers. There was a padded walking “trail” that was in the air conditioned building.
Have you seen the swim suits that look more like biking shorts and a t-shirt? You can get long sleeves and long pants. The suits are skin tight, so there is no soggy suit that hangs wrong. The pool/water therapist wears them so she won’t be squatting by the pool with legs apart talking to men or trying to help them. These are very popular for children and adults in order to avoid the sun effects, blistering and later skin cancer.
Staying too long at the pool? This would be the occasion where I would say to my child, “Okay, we will stay longer today and skip next Saturday. It works. Or “skip getting ice cream since we are staying here so long.” Use her currency.
July 29, 2014 at 6:16 am
Yes, they’re called rash guards. I bought one.
July 29, 2014 at 6:26 am
Yes with the shaving! I benefit from Italian hairy-tage, so my best shave still results in sandpaper legs. So I gave up trying. Maybe in 20+ years when I hit menopause I will benefit from hair loss.
And yes with exercising in the Southern summer. I do a lot of walking (walk to work=0.5mile one way, which happens 4x a day; plus walking the dog at least once a day=2+miles), but can’t motivate myself much beyond that in the summer. Also the dog likes to participate, so dynamic movements (jumping jacks, e.g.) are not happening in my living room. I also don’t have central A/C at home (yes, I know, and I really do live in the South) and live on the second floor. Good cross breeze but the humidity…
—Buying workout clothes so I can’t use “they’re all dirty” as an excuse. Using the gym to watch television or read a book on the recumbent bike. Enjoying how much stronger I feel from just one workout.
—Workouts that rely on body-weight: lunges across the room, pushups, burpees (I like them), jumping jacks. Any minute spent doing any of these is still greater than zero minutes… So cutting myself some slack.
—Yoga or stretching that is more to help me control my breathing and stress levels.
July 29, 2014 at 7:49 am
I did half the amount of laser hair removal needed to remove hair on my legs (long story, but they cancelled one appointment on me and I didn’t reschedule and then I got pregnant and now three years have passed), and there’s now a “normal” amount of hair on my legs (albeit a bit patchy). I can actually shave my legs with an electric razor now, which I couldn’t before. Still not sure if I’d recommend it.
It’s amazing how much those little excuses can be used, like clothes being dirty. Our minds are wily.
July 29, 2014 at 9:16 am
That “canceled appointment=no follow-ups” explains why I never got treated for depression and anxiety in college. I had enough motivation to go to the first appointment, then they put up all these barriers requiring MORE motivation that I couldn’t bring myself to have, even though I knew it was important. Luckily I was not the suicidal type, just the home-body, I’ll ignore everyone type. It was really frustrating to put myself out there and then have it not be enough to get help.
The canceled appointment syndrome is also a reason I’m encouraging my SO not to postpone his surgery appointment just because he’s “feeling better” right now. Chances are, he won’t get motivated enough to re-schedule and do all the steps again (x-ray, MRI, pre-op…).
July 29, 2014 at 9:18 am
Now I’m wondering if they canceled that appointment on purpose since I’d already paid in advance for the full 6 session treatment!
Last time I got my haircut the lady tried to put me on the automatic re-appointment thing every 6 weeks. (Like the dentist, but more frequent.) It probably would have worked too except I don’t want to get my hair cut every 6 weeks.
July 29, 2014 at 6:53 am
I just got back from a weekend at my in-laws so I am back on the wagon today. I probably gained five pounds while I was there. Donuts for breakfast? Sure. Sandwiches and chips for lunch? Sure. Potato Bake for dinner? Sure. Three days straight. I hate myself today.
I also find exercise incredibly boring. The only way I get any exercise in is if I listen to music while I walk/run. I also mow the grass with a push mower because it is forced exercise that I cannot talk my way out of. I suck.
July 29, 2014 at 7:50 am
DH used to do that with the push mower too until the Bermuda grass took over. Life would be easier for me if I weren’t allergic to grass! I can’t weed anymore.
July 29, 2014 at 7:16 am
I am also very lazy, find most exercise excruciatingly, mindnumbingly boring, and can only do it if someone makes me (i.e. there’s a coach yelling commands, by myself I just slack off). I went to kickboxing for over a year, that was hard and crazy fun but had to stop because of pretty bad shoulder pain. In my youth I played volleyball, but that was a team sport so camaraderie and fun…
I am very busy at work and I love it, whereas exercise bores me, so it’s really a no-brainer. I am thinking of getting a pedometer and I am working on losing weight. Then we’ll see once I am closer to my target weight, maybe I will have a little more energy, and can think about some running and perhaps joining a volleyball team.
But yeah. Exercise is boring.
July 29, 2014 at 7:20 am
I’m seriously considering a sit and stand desk or a walking desk for home…
July 29, 2014 at 7:29 am
You like to swim and there’s a pool in the HOA? That seems to be the best option. I also cannot STAND the heat of southern summers and wilt after 5 minutes walking outside, so I get that walking is not an option. I HAD to join a gym when I lived in the south, because it was never cool enough 8 months out of the year for me to exercise outdoors (and I’m not good enough of a swimmer to swim for exercise). I currently hate the gym and any kind of exercise machines, but I do like getting outside so as long as it isn’t too hot (and it was a glorious 63 degrees this AM!) I go for a run. I know this sounds lame, but indoor walking tracks or even mall-walking?
I also second the vote for incorporating strength training/calisthenics into the mix, I do that at home, with handweights, while listening to a podcast (only allowed for the workout!) or watching TV. Building muscle tone is important for metabolic health and women tend to ignore that. Even if you JUST did strength training and maybe some more walking throughout the day (at work, indoors) you’d probably be better off.
As far as the habit thing goes, I find it works better to pick the days I’m going to work out (instead of just saying “3 days a week”, in which case I put it off and never do it, I say Monday/Thursday/Saturday). Also first thing in the AM is the best for me, otherwise I can rival my whiny kids in coming up with excuses.
July 29, 2014 at 7:40 am
My husband wasn’t a good swimmer before we moved to the HOA, but as an adult he’s learned.
No, I will not be doing any indoor walking tracks or mall walking or training/calisthenics. I will not be going to the gym to work out. These things will not happen and they will never happen. For the reasons I’ve outlined above. In fact, just thinking about doing them makes me think, “Well, why bother walking or going to the pool at all? If my amount/type of exercise isn’t good enough then why bother doing any at all?”
July 29, 2014 at 8:36 am
Not sure I get this response…If you really don’t want to exercise and you feel pretty sure you never will, why this post? Anyways, any exercise is definitely better than none at all, sorry if it came across as otherwise.
July 29, 2014 at 8:45 am
I AM exercising. But I’m not going to do calisthenics or weight-training. I’m not going to do classes. I am not going to do sports. I am not going to do races. I’m not going to do any of the things that I specifically say I’m not going to do in the post. For the reasons I say I’m not going to do them.
I AM doing the things I say I’m doing in the post. But when the feedback I get is “you should add weight training and calisthenics” then my automatic response is, “F that. I’m gonna watch tv in the a/c in my pajamas instead.”
July 29, 2014 at 9:22 am
I guess I misinterpreted, if you ARE exercising already and happy with what you are doing, that’s great!
July 29, 2014 at 9:24 am
As it says in the post, I’m swimming on the weekends and walking every night. Except, as it says in the post, when the routine is broken because of rain and it takes a little while to ramp up again.
I am not doing weight training or calisthenics.
July 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm
It’s obviously your choice what to do, but this seems like a really short-sighted and dogmatic attitude.
July 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm
Well, you need to stop eating all those refined grains and nitrate-laden meats. They’re really bad for your health.
July 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm
Oh, and stop drinking so much grain alcohol. It’s also bad for your health.
July 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm
And all that pollution. Super hazardous. You need to move out of NYC to upstate where the air is cleaner.
Why exactly is it that people only care about health when it comes to lecturing people about exercise? (And smoking, I guess. But nobody smokes anymore. Bellwether by Connie Willis has a great commentary on that.) As if weight training is somehow the only key to longer life.
(Not that the science consistently supports any exercise other than moderate exercise as being linked to longevity. What kind of “physio-prof” are you?)
July 29, 2014 at 5:38 pm
I never said anything about “health”. My and many of these other commenters’ suggestions have been about ways to possibly make exercise more fun and enjoyable, which is what it certainly seemed like you were asking about.
July 29, 2014 at 5:49 pm
Telling me to do weight lifting and calisthenics is not telling me how to make things more enjoyable. It’s also bullshit since I *have* done both of those things in the past (PE was required in K-12 and college) and it did *not* make other exercise more enjoyable. Because no amount of muscle mass or flexibility (and I am still very flexible) gets rid of rash caused by sweating. It just adds additional rash and boredom.
If my weekend swimming and pleasant family walks, that is, the exercise that I’ve decided to do given my preferences, aren’t enough for your high exercise and “fun” bar, that’s too bad. I guess. Telling me to do more exercise that I have already said I dislike doing isn’t going to make things any more fun for me. It just annoys me.
July 30, 2014 at 10:06 am
I love bellwether! I somehow have an automatic response to hate doing what everyone is doing, even when it completely doesn’t make sense (like if a colour I love and have lots of clothes in this colour is suddenly in fashion, I’ll feel bad wearing it).
I completely understand you regarding the no shaving etc’. My lab-mate is always surprised that I never use the university’s pool, which is about 2 minutes walk from our office. Well, I don’t like meeting my professors in swimsuits, worn by either them or me (i’m a phd student). And I don’t want to shave all the time.
And I hate when people give un-asked-for advise, especially about my kid-rearing decisions, with my reproductive choices and my health coming close second.
I do yoga, once a week, since I found a nice and professional teacher who is focused on health and not getting thin, which tends to really annoy me. But most people say yoga is not really sports (though I didn’t ask them!)
(BTW, I think it’s my first time commenting, though I’m reading this blog for about two years, and really love it)
July 30, 2014 at 11:28 am
I recently heard that there’s this prestigious conference association that’s mostly men where there’s a mandatory swimsuit pool party. That sounds AWFUL.
I don’t generally mind random advice (because I like solutions), but advice when I’ve already said no I don’t want to do this for these reasons that are still there even if I tried your thing so I’m doing this other thing instead… not appreciated!
If someone had some miracle product to recommend that got rid of the heat/sweat rash problem, I’d be all, that’s cool I’ll have to try it. But recommending things that I’ve already said aren’t going to make me happy… no.
July 30, 2014 at 10:46 am
July 29, 2014 at 7:39 am
Oh, I love this.
My major exercise is walking and yes now I live in a place I can do it most of the year (not winter, oh not winter). I used to live in a place where I needed to drive somewhere to walk and, yeah, that was an impediment to walking! But I did like walking indoors at a track when I did in grad school (I had a friend who forced me to go to the gym with her at like 7:00 am!)
And I have a long sleeved rash guard because I am actually allergic to the sun. I need to buy a skirty thing because I agree with you about the waxing and the indecency :) Is there still a sale at Lands End?
July 29, 2014 at 7:52 am
I miss walking to work! I was in really good shape back then, without any effort.
I have no idea if Land’s end is still having a sale– you can check! I bet they have stuff in clearance in your size though because they always seem to have the super tiny things on clearance really cheap after the size 8s and 10s are long gone.
July 29, 2014 at 8:01 am
Dude. Now I am looking at swim suits and not writing!!!!
And if I’m willing to have a color other than black, yes, plenty of sale stuff!
July 29, 2014 at 8:06 am
I went with navy blue for the skirt with a dark purple rash guard and bright purple for the swim-dress.
July 31, 2014 at 12:03 pm
I used to have a mile walk to work. It was definitely a big bonus for my health. Too bad the job itself was a hellhole sweatshop nest of dickheads. I think I stayed in that job longer than I should have just because of the walk. :-)
July 29, 2014 at 7:53 am
Routine is key for me, too. I also have to care about the results. (I never worked out before I turned 35, mainly because I never really gained weight, so there was no incentive.)
Right now what’s really working for me is that the elliptical is where I do my novel-reading, and it’s easy to stay on for an hour when I’m reading something good!
I find working out boring, but I do like the feeling after a hard workout–head clear, pleasantly tired, de-stressed. I always forget this, though, if I’m not doing it regularly.
July 29, 2014 at 7:55 am
I never get and have never gotten that experience from exercise. I wonder if I’m broken.
July 29, 2014 at 11:32 am
#2 is broken in the same way, then. After a workout I would be filled with anger at having done something so time-wasting (it felt like) and I didn’t like how exhausted I was. It added stress. After riding the horse I am just tired, but I don’t think my head is any clearer.
July 29, 2014 at 7:56 am
Not all mathematicians are lazy. Alan Turing was a world class marathoner. =)
Personally, I’ve gotten quite addicted to exercise in the last 5 years or so, and I think it’s mostly because I’ve tied any strenuous exercise to caffeine intake. Since giving up diet coke nearly 5 years ago, 95% of the caffeine I consume comes from little caffeinated packets of Crystal Light that I drink during my morning exercise. On days when I don’t run (or hit the gym or swim), I don’t get any caffeine and I drag. So my brain has associated feeling good with starting the day with exercise to the point that even if I run out of the Crystal Light I still feel pretty good if I get some exercise in before starting the rest of my day.
As for boring, I always listen to audiobooks or podcasts while exercising (finished Winter of the World and started Nickel and Dimed this morning…), well everything except for swimming. If I wanted to get into that more I think I’d have to get some waterproof headphones since I like the books too much.
July 29, 2014 at 7:57 am
Hahaha, link exercise to an addiction. Very Pavlovian!
DH listens to audiobooks while doing boring stuff too.
July 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm
I have never gotten a good feeling from exercising unless it was running up and down the stairs during commercials or exercising on the floor. I hate running, walking, and treadmills. The only reasons I joined a gym and exercised on machines was because I could barely walk into the gym since I had a torn meniscus. I just figured that since I gained 69 lbs., I should do something. . I just needed to move and a gym was the only solution. Using rubber bands on a door was excruciating for my knee. When I walked twice a day, I just had to grit my teeth and do it. There was no pleasure or pride in the doing, just a chore to do.
Riding my bike was fun. Shooting baskets was fun. Do you know how many muscles you use to shoot baskets? A lot. I awoke one morning and could barely move my arms, shoulder, back and chest muscles. Roller skating is fun. I also played tennis all spring, summer, and fall. Bowling was my winter activity. Lifting kids and groceries and sewing machines worked for strength training. I like meaningful activity.
Thanks, I had no idea what you meant by “rash guards.”
July 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm
Going to the roller rink was a highlight of my college years. :-) I didn’t go nearly as often as I would have liked to, simply because I was still living at home which was a ten-mile drive on a narrow unlighted country road from town. Not fun late at night when you are tired. If I had kids I think I would try to find a roller rink (or ice rink) to take them to, and skate with them.
July 29, 2014 at 8:20 am
These days, about 7/8 of serious lap swimmers (the kind that come in EVERY DAY and swim at least 20 minutes) wear the waterproof headphones. If you like to swim, but haven’t tried them, they’re probably worth a shot.
Looking at the long term cognitive benefits of exercise, there seems to be an additional boost if you get interpersonal complexity (darn all those group sport people anyway). I’m introverted enough I’ve never had exercise buddies or anything, but my town is super running oriented, and I joined the triathalete facebook page for my area. I’m hoping to meet some friendly folks to do things with to see if that improves motivation and/or gives more mentally engaging options (I find exercise boring, but I also do a lot of lap swimming and treadmill running, and I think it’s normal to find those boring. When my life is going smoothly, I can put those things into my routine even if they are boring, but when life is chaotic it’s a whole different thing).
Honestly, one of the few things that has helped me has been truly appreciating what my body can do. That comes in a few forms, some noble (tracking strength/weight lifting increases), some less so (observing the very cut navy trainees come into the pool and… utterfly flail about helplessly like the inverse of a fish out of water… even the apparent leader, who could at least swim freestyle, would be put to shame by my fly. And my fly sucks these days.). Learning new athletic/dance/movement types of things might be a better answer, if “boring” means “not mentally engaging” (taking up a new form of dance as an adult is the opposite of “boring” in terms of mental engagement required). If, instead, “boring” means “I cannot enjoy things that I am not good at, and so I experience them as boring and resent them”, then regularly switching to new activities probably won’t help … though if you can change your mindset with regard to intellectual pursuits, you can probably also do so with regard to physical pursuits.
July 29, 2014 at 8:31 am
No, boring means boring. As in, uninteresting. I was extremely in shape as a kid (did regular swimming lessons, ballet, gymnastics every week etc.) but still wanted to shoot myself during weight lifting and aerobics and a number of other extremely dull PE classes. It is B O R I N G. (Ballet is also boring. Gymnastics was less so.)
I’m also good at data entry but find it BORING. No amount of practice at data entry is going to make it interesting.
Also note that I said I don’t want to do classes and why. #2 does classes and learns new physical things. I don’t want to. We are different people.
Look, I have been on this planet for several decades. I’ve been through the gamut of personal fitness levels. I don’t need lectures on how if I just tried this or that I would feel differently, because chances are I have tried this or that. If it were a magic bullet, then I would still be doing it. I assume that you know your body. I know mine.
I don’t want advice on my activity levels. I really don’t. I’m not sure how many times I need to repeat that.
And I know myself enough to know that all this well-meaning but unwanted advice is causing me to dig my heels in and go, gee, why should I bother doing anything at all.
July 29, 2014 at 11:18 am
Hmmm. Well that was a failed communication attempt.
Ok. I can see how this topic must be frustrating (to get so much utterly misguided advice), but I don’t think you are responding to what I actually said. I suggested: 1) swim headphones if you don’t already have ’em, and 2) that learning new things is valuable and might make things less boring (which I did not expect to be controversial, honestly)… I did not suggest classes. The rest was talking about what works *for me*.
Then there’s the mindset stuff, which may have come across as McJudgeypants, for which I’m sorry. First, I’ll admit that didn’t state it explicitly enough the first time through- your mindset does not need to be my mindset.
At the same time, I do think it’s possible that if you were to say e.g. “Everything that is not playing on the internet in the A/C is BORING and HORRIBLE”, that actually sounds like a pretty standard response to horrible weather, rather than your actual mindset toward e.g. being able to do new physical activities.
July 30, 2014 at 8:16 am
There’s no question that a lot of the standard advice out there (e.g. the chirpy lists of suggestions that come from institutional “wellness” programs) is aimed at extroverts. No, I am *not* more likely to take a walk if I have to arrange a time for doing so with a “buddy.” All that scheduling and rescheduling and discussing sounds like a major nuisance, and an energy drain. I am far more likely to take a walk if it means I get time to myself. This is hard to explain to “people people” who seem to have major trouble understanding that not everybody works like they do. Somebody needs to come up with alternative advice lists for introverts (and somebody probably has; they just haven’t made their way into the standard materials for the wellness programs).
July 30, 2014 at 8:21 am
I learned how to enjoy running (after terrible high school cross-country experiences) by working out with a buddy from my grad cohort. But it was also a terrible experience because she would cancel or not show up *all the time* instead of just telling me that she didn’t like working out with me. F*!$ that.
July 29, 2014 at 8:46 am
I hear you on the time constraint issue. I’ve ranted about that in the past, I think. I had started my recent “get back in shape” push before I quit my job, but I’d be lying if I tried to pretend that my new more flexible schedule doesn’t make it MUCH easier to fit exercise in. For me, the timing matters, too. I am not very good at morning exercise, even though that is the time that is logistically easiest to reclaim for myself (“just” get up a little earlier). I like exercise as a break in the middle of the work day or as a way to blow off steam at the end of the work day, and trying to change that has not worked out. So now, I run twice a week as a break in the middle of my “at home” work days. Before I quit, I was running once after work (made possible by paying our Chinese teacher to pick up Pumpkin) and doing a short kickboxing work out once as a break at work (office gym has a heavy bag). So- maybe you have to figure out when exercise might actually feel good to you and try it then?
Of course, even when I’m trying to exercise at the right time of day for me, there is strong inertia to overcome. I’ve got no tips on that. I just decided I was going to make myself do it. Once I noticed that I was able to run a little further before stopping to walk each time I went, I started having an easier time continuing once I started, but getting started is the hard part for me- even for exercise I love and find fun (kickboxing).
No one is more surprised than I am to find that what I’m choosing to do for exercise right now is run. But the weather’s been nice, and the path by the bay is pretty… and yeah, I hear you on the location matters thing, too. It is DEFINITELY easier for me to get outside and exercise here in San Diego than it would be where you live.
So basically, I have no advice, but lots of empathy for your situation. Kind of my usual.
July 29, 2014 at 8:47 am
That’s a good thing because I don’t WANT advice on this.
In terms of timing, as it says in the post, the temperature is the big time constraint during the summer. In terms of what I enjoy, as it says in the post, I like swimming and I like taking leisurely walks with the family.
July 29, 2014 at 9:15 am
This is not advice :)
I also do not like sports. Or going to a gym. Or weight-training. Or running. Or any of that stuff.
I am trying to get more “exercise” but it doesn’t work if I consider it “exercise.” Like, I’m quite willing to have a dance party with my children. Or go on walks as work breaks.
I also don’t like doing the dishes, but I manage to put them away when I’m making a cup of tea, which I DO like. mental tricks.
Did I tell you I read that Willpower book? Tres awesome. Now I need to make myself write.
July 29, 2014 at 9:21 am
Absolutely. I think that’s part of why I prefer to go with my family. It’s family time, not just exercise. I do the same thing with dishes (only not always tea, just whatever we’re doing in the kitchen… chores as a family activity are also more fun).
Willpower is awesome. I hope you got a nice swimsuit! And yes, I need to work now too. Just waiting for the caffeine to kick in… any minute now…
July 29, 2014 at 10:29 am
Nope! No advice from me. I was trying to answer the “what works for you” part. If the temperature said I had to exercise morning or evenings, evenings would be the far better choice, even though on paper, mornings should be “easier” to fit in my schedule. It took me far too long to figure that out, but my rate of actually doing exercise increased substantially when I did.
I’m impressed you like swimming. That is one exercise that bores the bejeezus out of me.
I hope the right size Chacos work out for you. I continue to love mine. I wore them just about everyday on vacation. I wish they made shoes I could wear to work.
July 29, 2014 at 10:38 am
I don’t know why swimming isn’t boring for me. Maybe it’s because I really can do it automatically, whereas most other mindless sports there’s still some attention that has to be paid (jiggly breasts, as you mention, or the irritation of sweat rashes for me, or with weight lifting you have to be *careful* about things) so I can’t let my mind fully wander but I don’t actually know. And, of course, with the kids, DH and I have to take turns taking care of them vs. doing laps. I’ve been enjoying racing DC1 with laps too.
July 29, 2014 at 9:11 am
This reminds me of another reason why I hate running, and why I hate nothing more than jumping jacks (they were my least favorite part of kickboxing classes): huge freakin’ mellons. Ain’t no sports bra good enough to immobilize them enough so they wouldn’t be a serious impediment to bouncing.
For these reasons (and many others), Cloud is my hero.
July 29, 2014 at 10:17 am
You’ve met me, so you know I share this particular pain! I HATE bouncing while exercising. I wear a Champion brand underwire sports bra that keeps me from bouncing. It took me ages to find this style, but now that I have found it, I just order it from Amazon. If that wasn’t enough, Title 9 has some other options I was going to try.
Not that I’m saying you SHOULD run. But if bouncing is stopping you from something you actually like to do- check out Title 9’s website. They rate bras by how well they keep you from bouncing.
Even with the great bra, though, I hate jumping jacks. Too high pain to payoff threshold.
The big breasts issue is an impediment in a lot of exercise options, I find. Even with kayaking- an activity I now love. I struggled until a chance encounter with a female paddler who showed me how to modify the “standard” stroke to miss my chest but still get decent power from my back.
July 29, 2014 at 9:06 am
As for weight training, it’s super boring. But I *really* like the way it makes my arms & shoulders look, and I can get that effect with like 20 min once a month moving quickly from machine to machine, so it isn’t onerous. So I do it, but again: I’m all about outcomes.
I care about the long-term stuff (bone health, cardiovascular health, blah blah) but can’t imagine I’d be able to stick to a real workout routine if I didn’t have more immediate incentives.
July 29, 2014 at 9:12 am
It seriously is!
I really don’t care that much about how I look, which is problematic in terms of motivation. The world is lucky that they get me in clean clothing with my hair mostly brushed most days!
My mom got serious about exercise and healthy eating after she had breast cancer. I was also better about it when I was ttc. But without that immediate pay-off, it really is difficult to do something onerous. People have the same problems with money and studying and stuff, but I find those domains to be much easier, probably because I care more about the payoffs.
July 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm
in my experience, I have to stick with something quite a while before it becomes intrinsically rewarding. I was never, ever, ever athletic and I got the talented tracking where they took all us nerdy kids out of gym & sports to do academic enrichment with that time, so I’m lacking a lot of really basic skills and getting through the terrible work stages other people did at age 8 or so. But if I stick with it, whether it’s skating or running or badminton, I will get to the point where I am good enough to actually enjoy it (or good enough to plateau and realize I’m not going to get better or enjoy it.)
July 30, 2014 at 6:06 am
Hm, 8 years of ballet did not make it enjoyable. Nor did 12 years of PE. I wish we’d gotten taken out of PE to do academic enrichment! Or, you know, any class.
July 30, 2014 at 7:29 pm
Having known a few actual ballerinas, I’m pretty sure ballet doesn’t become enjoyable as fast as it cripples most people. Even the pros.
I’m talking more the level of badminton in the backyard at a party, with drinking. Or kickball (with the kids or on the adult kickball team, with drinking). Or roller skating at the roller rink, with lights and music, or rollerblading on the trail while the kids ride their bikes (no drinking. If you do that and drink and smash your face, the ER doctor makes fun of you while you get stitches).
Getting pulled out of gym PERMANENTLY for academics would have been fine, but getting pulled out intermittently just made gym much, much worse. I did learn to score bowling, though!
July 31, 2014 at 12:11 pm
I have had to go bowling with friends a few time. Hated it. ;-) Noise, noise, smells, gross beer-swilling men, noise, ugh.
July 29, 2014 at 9:25 am
Same. I HATE weight training. SUPER boring and I’d say 30-50% of the time, I end up just sitting in our little exercise room at home reading a book instead of doing my workout. But my arms are extremely scrawny naturally, and a tiny bit of muscle definition helps them look better, and that takes 20-30 minutes a week for a few months.
July 29, 2014 at 9:07 am
I’m beginning to suspect that most people look at the title and go, “oh, an exercise post, I have opinions on that” and then skip to the comments to give advice. Maybe I should stick to shorter more readable posts.
July 29, 2014 at 9:30 am
Well I DID read your post, and you asked us to tell you what WE do. And when I am talking about what I do, if I happen to have found (through a tedious process of trail and error) something that totally works for me, I tend to get excited and all “you should do this too!!!” (you know what I mean, you guys do this too, for other topics). I certainly never intended to be discouraging or to downplay what you are already achieving.
Anyways, back to work.
July 29, 2014 at 9:34 am
I too am someone who is inherently lazy. Seriously, my slothful-ness is shocking. When I lived alone, there would be multiple days in a row where I didn’t even go outside!
I am currently not exercising at all (I tell myself when I am through with nursing – I just can’t get the childcare/nursing/finding a time that’s not too hot/etc coordinated to be able to do anything right now.
This is *not* advice but I eventually became a regular exerciser and these are 3 things that worked for me:
1. Do it with DH – this became a fun social time for us and a good time to talk. We walked, ran, biked, went to gym.
2. Got a high energy dog – very good motivator – although I do not suggest getting a pet as an exercise motivator.
3. Data and tracking is a good incentive for me – fitbit and Nike plus were very motivating for me.
4. Removing impediments – this is hard but for me it was finding a gym with easy parking, no lines, on my route between work and home, having a running route that started at my front door, realizing if I sat down with my coffee and internet first, I was not going on that run before it got too hot.
Kudos to you for working on building healthy habits. As you said, you know yourself well & have a lot of challenges with exercising in your region (heat, grass etc). I think you are doing great – I think it can be really hard for people with health challenges to motivate especially if you are surrounded by people who are ultra into exercising. What you are doing *is* worth it.
I aim for 30 min of activity 5-7 days a week right now and someday I will get back to really pushing myself. In the meantime, what I am doing is great and a whole lot better than nothing.
July 29, 2014 at 9:41 am
Hahaha, no you don’t have to say, “This is not advice” so long as you’re not starting your sentence with, “You should” or “I agree with CPP that you need to…” Saying what works for you is awesome and what was asked for!
That goes more generally– for people who love weight training or running, that’s awesome! But it’s enough for me to say, I find weight training is boring and running gives me rashes… I don’t need to be told that if I just practiced it more I’d find it interesting or I should run anyway. Or to be lectured on all the health benefits I’m losing out on by not working on X or Y. You don’t see us lecturing CPP on how he needs to eat less pasta and rice to improve his health. (That link that #2 put in the bottom question prompt has some good discussion about lecturing people on exercise, IIRC.)
July 29, 2014 at 10:29 am
I do wish you luck. Removing impediments is excellent.
I am also a good weight but 34% fat. (Yikes!) So I’ve started up again–there was a challenge at work to get lots of walking in. Then my brother-in-law had another challenge to get lots of walking, jogging, swimming and/or biking in BEYOND your daily life. So for that challenge, walking to the bus stop or to Target doesn’t count.
Currently (by which I mean the last four weeks or so) I have done the following:
* Jog 3 miles every Friday and Sunday morning – I am conflicted between wanting to get up as early as possible before it’s too hot, wanting to stay up late, and wanting to not set my alarm. I normally try not to stay up too late, don’t set my alarm, and deal with what’s out there when I finally get out there between 7:30 and 8:00. I like jogging outside–I like looking at what other people have done with their yards. I can’t stand jogging on treadmills, but I did get an iToy to be able to listen to music while doing this when I thought I would be rich enough to be in a gym. I think having to go in the morning or never actually makes me more likely to do it.
* Do a “pilates” video I like on Saturday–it has some strength training, some balance and coordination and some panting (aerobic activity). Only a few parts feel hard while I’m doing them, but those don’t last too long. Yet I still feel nice and used up by the end. Some parts feel really good and some parts make me feel elegant and some parts are just silly.
* Go for a walk at lunch at work – I take off my blazer and wear a white hat to reflect as much heat as possible.
* Walk around the block a time or two in the evening.
* I’ve started (last week) doing my own version of the 7-minute workout (you can google that). My version replaces some of the lower-body stuff with upper-body stuff. Also, it takes me so long to move from one station to the next that it takes me 12 minutes to do it.
* I do countertop pushups at work while I’m microwaving my lunch.
I used to go ballroom dancing, but there are no good places anymore–they are too small and/or have poles in the middle and/or have DJs who play only old music.
I used to play ultimate frisbee which is great because the people who suck can line up across from each other and vice versa, so people of different levels can play together. But my boyfriend kept getting injured and therefore doesn’t like it. Also, one of my friends who got me into it got a hip replacement and said it’s bad for you. Also, I’m out of shape and afraid.
I tried swimming earlier this summer–I’ve forgotten most of what little I know about swimming in a straight line. I would go back, but it’s $3 per visit and my boyfriend got laid off, so we’re playing poor right now.
I only like fun exercises or short exercises. And I like doing things that are directly useful in real life. So jogging helps me make it to the bus stop when you’re late. Walking lets me get to Target without using gas, polluting the earth, or adding wear and tear to my car. Ballroom dance helps me keep my balance better in certain situations (crowds, small spaces). Strength training helps me open heavy doors.
July 29, 2014 at 11:35 am
That all sounds great!
For some reason when I play frisbee, one of the tendons in my hand pops out and it’s really painful. Not a good problem for a nerd to have.
July 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm
Have you tried with the other hand? In pool (billiards, not swimming), I can play using whichever hand is more convenient because I’m equally terrible with both! With frisbee, though, I would probably hurt someone if I tried to throw with my non-dominant hand.
July 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm
I’m not sure it’s worth getting my left-hand into non-lethal mode just to play ultimate. Plus I’d probably hurt it too. :(
July 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm
+1 on countertop pushups. I started doing those in the morning while my oatmeal is in the microwave (real oatmeal, thank you). Was sufficiently deconditioned that one set of ten was all I could do. Now I do ten shoulder-width, ten wide-grip, ten narrow-grip. Upper arms look pretty damn snazzy for a 48-yr-old. :-)
July 29, 2014 at 10:29 am
I am really bad at motivating myself to exercise, which is why I like walking everywhere. I really should some day get over my fear of my bike and ride it places because that would cut the time to work in half. I’ve tried getting my boyfriend to go to the gym with me, but we have such different work schedules that that doesn’t really work very well.
I was really good at exercise last year by having friends to go with on different nights. Having people to motivate you is great, so long as you can find them… After my injury last fall, I fell off the bandwagon for sure and haven’t really gotten back on it. I’ve been trying out different things this year, but nothing has really stuck for more than an occasional thing. Boo work. But also it’s finding something that is at a good time. To get to the 4:30 pm yoga, I have to leave work by 3:45 pm (30 minute walk, 15 minute buffer). That’s just not happening. But the 6 pm time doesn’t work very well for me (I’m usually pretty hungry). That’s why I started trying the barre place right by work since 5:30 pm there is doable. But I like the yoga place better. So I keep not doing much. Ah well, at least I walk to/from work, which is a decent amount of exercise (20 miles of walking a week!).
I’m not really concerned with weight, though I did gain some after not exercising anymore and then had to go out and buy new clothes.
July 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm
I thought you really enjoyed group sports? Am I misremembering?
July 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm
I do! I gave up on my summer one though. It is almost winter! I mostly likely sports for socializing, which is why I’m terrible at running. Yoga has been nice for destressing though. One of my problems is that I hate driving, so that makes me avoid going anywhere that requires driving unless I like it enough.
July 29, 2014 at 10:39 am
I bike commute, and I got a job with a lot of physical exercise built into it (this weekend I was working and someone said to me “you’re so strong! Those are heavy!” Why yes, they are.) The downside to the physical job is it pays very, very badly. I have personal rules about biking/driving (mostly, i bike unless it is actually snowy on the street or actually raining, or I am going more than 2 miles. It’s like my “no driving or using a credit card for junk food” rule – not a fitness rule, but one that has fitness effects.)
I am of course quite fat anyway. But not sedentary!
I think what you’re doing is great. I wonder if having the kids along for walks makes them better or worse? We make the kiddo run a mile a day with his other “summer homework” (math, handwriting, typing) but I do a lot of standing and watching him run up and down the stairs in the park so it’s not actually exercise for me. We used to go for walks where he rode his scooter, and he and his dad actually run together. I’m just not a runner.
July 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm
I used to bike more, but it’s just not very safe or pleasant around here. (With the lack of bike lanes and the heat, oh the heat.) I do have some colleagues that do it though, but they live in a different direction from work and they don’t seem to be as bothered by the heat for the most part.
The nightly walks are kind of fun. Even if sometimes I have to put pants on to do them.
July 29, 2014 at 10:41 am
oh and, especially this winter when i never wanted to leave the house because it was -10 for weeks at a time and I was already shoveling snow for like 15 hours a week, I found putting stickers on my calendar ridiculously rewarding. Tracking really can be a good tool if you don’t use it punitively.
July 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm
Hahaha. I don’t think I’d be rewarded by sticker charts or fit-bits etc. I’m not sure why not. Because I kind of like doing monthly challenges in February. Maybe it’s all that bad competition in middle school associated with exercise.
July 29, 2014 at 11:47 am
Yes. It is kind of like personal finance in that it doesn’t matter if the “best” thing to do is x or y if you aren’t actually going to do them. The best thing to do is something that you will do. And you can grow from there (if you want to).
I like running quite a bit for a lot of reasons, and, bonus, it supports my ability to do other things that I enjoy (hiking, backpacking). I listen to podcasts / audiobooks, and I find it relaxing. I have a weird love for pushing my body to it’s limits and tiring it out completely – somehow it quiets my mind better than anything.
But I totally get those who hate running, because I hate pretty much everything else. Team sports are my own personal hell. Anything with a ball is not for me. I like swimming (swam in high school, albeit poorly), but there are just too many barriers for me to make it work (find pool, pay for pool, drive to pool, now I’m all wet & chlorine-y, public shower, drive home). Classes aren’t really my thing either, mostly because they are on a schedule and also because I have to pay for them. Running, at least, I just put on my shoes and clothes and go when I feel like it. seems like walking is the same for you – least barriers.
I am easily tired by people who preach that you won’t get “results” from cardio, and lifting (heavy) is the way to go. It isn’t that I really disagree, just that I don’t care. I don’t exercise so I look a certain way. Strength training is very dull to me. Vanity is certainly not enough of a reason to do it. Even the health benefits aren’t compelling enough for me to engage in boredom. Maybe someday. Probably not though. I also tire of people who are obsessed about healthy eating and/or on fad diets (so so so common here). Fine with me, but pleeeeeease don’t talk to me about it, OK?
Worth noting – I didn’t do much of anything prior to moving to California. Partly because I just hadn’t gotten interested, but I’m sure the freezing winters and humid summers didn’t help at all.
Good luck, and keep us updated on the progress!
July 29, 2014 at 6:04 pm
It’s so much easier to exercise when it’s nice out all the time! I’ve noticed that people in CA tend to look younger than people the same age in other parts of the country too (and not just because of plastic surgery and makeup!).
I don’t think I will keep you all updated on the progress because there’s only so much feedback like CPP’s that I can handle before deciding that no, really I’d rather not put my pants on and go outside. I had thought this would be a motivating post for me, but instead I’m feeling very much the opposite! Because I’m not doing enough, not doing it right, and not keeping my mind open enough to enjoy it. So why bother at all? I mean, I have a very modest stated goal– to be less easily winded. One would think that modest exercise would be enough. But apparently not. I should have just kept quiet!
I am, though, enjoying reading about what other people do, and how they stay motivated. It’s really interesting how people are different, and there are some things I hadn’t thought about before. So long as nobody is trying to bully me into to doing something I’ve already said I don’t want to do, I really like seeing what’s out there.
July 30, 2014 at 8:31 am
Yeah, fair enough. I’m surprised at some of the comments. If you hadn’t so EXPLICITLY stated you weren’t looking for advice and why other things didn’t work, I could assume people were attempting to be helpful. But I’m kind of baffled to the motivations.
July 30, 2014 at 11:32 am
me too! #2 blames the patriarchy and says I should have expected it since as a woman my body is public property. Alternatively I need to write shorter posts that scan better.
July 29, 2014 at 11:52 am
I share many of your objections/obstacles. Primary is that I want to maximize the hours that I’m paying for childcare and use those for WORK, not boring things like exercise. The only things that have worked for me are (1) to fit it into the routine, and (2) to build in rewards. Re. (1), I walk the kids to school, about 2 miles round trip. Not a huge distance but I go at a good clip and it’s better than nothing. Re.(2) I was able to motivate myself to use the elliptical machine by allowing myself to watch mindless tv only while on the machine.
July 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm
I would do so much more walking if there were an ice cream shop at the end!
I sometimes do our sewing or fold laundry in front of the TV… maybe there’s a way to incorporate exercise instead. I guess depending on the show I walk around doing cleaning and stuff which is technically exercise. Mostly though I just snuggle on the couch with one or more family members.
August 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm
August 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm
Good thing weight isn’t the point.
July 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm
If I think about “enjoyable exercise” the first thing that pops to mind is that the exercise is secondary to the quality time I’m spending with friends while doing those activities. In college my best friend and I would go for walks at the reservoir to get away from classwork for a while. I find that I still do this today but the activities are different. Biking is fun, but spending time with likeminded people is the real driver that gets me out there consistently. I don’t bike ride with the people who just want to get a good workout in and don’t want to talk. It must be the religious upbringing, but hanging out rarely happens without some other “productive” thing being done at the same time.
When I worked in an office, “gym” time became my ‘reading a book’ time. I would look forward to my hour on the exercise bike, not because exercise bikes are fun, but because I was looking forward to finding out what happened next in my book. It was more socially acceptable to read a book during your lunch hour if you were walking on a treadmill vs just doing it at your desk (which looks to passers by like time wasting in the corp world). So, I guess I’ve never exercised just for the sake of being fit. When that’s the only goal, the routine has always been short lived for me.
July 29, 2014 at 6:11 pm
That’s a really good point. Some people do like exercise for the sake of exercise, but for many of us, it’s better as an excuse to socialize.
July 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Well you totally should…jk. I get a lot of that (my brother is an exercise physiologist and works out for fun). But at least he’s an expert giving me advice. Currently I carry a little one around so my arms are stronger than they’ve been in a long time–I first noticed this when moving bags of mulch was easier than I remembered it being. :) I try to go to “gentle yoga” once a week which doesn’t always happen, but it’s good for stretching me out without adding to the ankle injury that keeps me from doing much else. I want to add in more walking. I hate sweating but something’s gotta change as I’m really feeling all this extra weight that I have. Oh and my brother has given me exercises to strengthen and correct my foot which must work because I notice a different when I remember to do it. I think if we had a pool I’d be in it a lot–in fact when we can afford to buy, a pool is a goal (we can add one if there isn’t one). If someplace offered mat pilates, I’d take a class but it seems no one offers that anymore. Too bad, I miss it.
July 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm
Babies and toddlers do increase arm strength! I actually do “baby lifts” with my smallest. One baby lift. Two baby lifts. Three baby lifts. Ze’s getting heavy though!
July 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm
I am a naturally sedentary person, and I hate most traditional types of exercise. What has helped me to be more active and healthy is to sneak activity into my life by either making it a habit or part of a bigger project that I enjoy. For example, I walk home from work every day. When I get home, I do yoga. If I’m exhausted, I do some easy, feel-good stretches for 15 minutes, and if I have more energy, I do more challenging poses for longer, but I always do some. The anti-anxiety effect is an excellent motivator for me. On weekends, I spend lots of time digging in the dirt, hauling rocks around, hammering nails – engaging in home and garden projects that are fun and challenging to me.
I used to really hate it when people told me that I need to exercise. As if daily activity doesn’t count until unless it involves miles or milestones. Now that I’m in my 50s, my body is good at telling me when it is happy and when it is not. The activities I do keep my muscles strong enough, my joints flexible enough, my heart healthy enough. It’s clear to me that what I’m doing is working, and that makes it easier to ignore people who disagree.
July 29, 2014 at 6:17 pm
I like listening to my body too. My body, in fact, is what told me that I need to get out and do something (as opposed to nothing). And it seems to be working.
July 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm
I like running, but not with other people. I’m super slow and I feel really self-conscious about whether my pace will match someone else’s, whether/when I want to take walk breaks, and that sort of thing. I think the only people I could comfortably run with would be my husband, my mom, and my best friend, but my husband hates to run and my mom and best friend both live far, far away.
I don’t mind running on the treadmill; I listen to podcasts. I live in the hot humid South, too, so in past years I’ve done almost all of my summer running on the treadmill. Usually I go to the gym at lunch time, but this summer with two different kinds of teaching for seven weeks in a row I just stopped. But we took my dog (that I got as a senior in high school) from my dad and stepmom this spring, and when he wasn’t really getting enough exercise I started to take him on long walks every morning at 6am because that’s the only time it’s remotely tolerable to be outside. The walks quickly turned into runs 3 mornings a week and walks 3 others and sleeping in on Saturdays. The dog is old and not a breed noted for endurance, but he loves to run! He keeps me motivated because he looks so sad when I fail to take him out.
I’m also not a fan of strength training. It is so boring and it hurts. I have weak knees and they do feel a lot better when I do physical therapy stretches and exercises at least every other day or so, but I just hate them so I don’t do them very often.
July 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Dogs definitely force exercise whether you want it or not.
July 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm
Recently I was having a related problem… I actually really enjoy many kinds of exercise, but when I started my new job I was totally exhausted and overwhelmed on days when I worked. So then my carefully organized routine would go all to shit, and then I would also be demoralized and not work out on my days off either. Boo.
The “solution ” to this was to stop even trying to work out on work days, which was surprisingly effective. I bike to work a few days a week if circumstances allow and otherwise don’t bother; keeps my morale up on the days I have off.
Large breasts were also a impediment for much of my life, but Title Nine does make a few that allow me to run in comfort. Not that I run very far or very fast or very often (some quirk of metabolism makes it so that I can only run if I haven’t eaten in four or more hours, which is sometimes difficult for me to arrange). But still.
It is so important to remember that the exercise that we DO (and ideally enjoy at least a little bit) is the best kind of exercise. Thanks for this post.
(we are just learning to kayak, which has strong potential for us as something So Fun that we will want to do it all the time. At least we hope so.)
July 29, 2014 at 6:19 pm
“It is so important to remember that the exercise that we DO is the best kind of exercise.” YES.
Kayaking does sound fun! I also like canoeing. But we’ll have to wait for the kids to get older before doing that again.
July 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm
I like exercise because it calms me down. What I’ve done over the years has changed, and what I used to love is now boring and what I used to hate is now preferred. I’m very bad at motivating myself to start something new though — it took years of saying “I should go to yoga,” before I worked up the nerve — and I really did want to try it! Now, I am trying to work up the nerve to go to anything other than the beginner class I’ve been going to.I am goal oriented, though, so I like tracking progress on whatever I’m doing. And I’m a creature of habit, to a fault, so as long as I get in the habit, I’m good about it. I like team sports, in the abstract, but it’s far too stressful in practice because I am too self-conscious of bringing the team down. I do like competing with/against myself. I do not like thinking of it as “exercise” or a chore or obligation or anything other than something I want to do (at least most days). I am not motivated by weight loss or “oh, I can eat that if I do this” sorts of thought processes. So, I guess I am goal oriented, but only towards some goals.
I am not a swimmer, but I did recently get a swimsuit that has shorts rather a traditional bottom. Still less clothing than I would normally wear, but I love it! I am so much less self-conscious. And yeah, I shouldn’t be self-conscious and so it shouldn’t matter, but I still love my shorts way more than a “regular” suit! I am glad the options are expanding.
I think family fun time is a great way to approach being active and healthier.
July 29, 2014 at 6:25 pm
For me, it’s not even that I worry about showing my cellulite or spider veins or what have you– I just would rather keep my private parts to myself at the pool. Some of those suits just have so little coverage.
July 29, 2014 at 4:28 pm
I fortunately don’t have the intense dislike for exercise, but I have found myself sitting a lot more at work now that I know how to deal with computational work. I recently saw some fun physiology that when dumbed down to the point that it probably isn’t accurate anymore, says that you can erase the cardiovascular benefits of a vigorous workout easily by sitting too much at work. So, coupled with the neuromuscular issues I have that pop up from working out hard and then sitting all day, that was motivating to me to change things up a little bit!
Long story short–I got one of those Jawbone UP thingies, and it buzzes at me every time I’ve been idle for more than 30 minutes. The interval is customizable, and you can tell it to only run for part of the day. But, I use it to remind me to go take a drink of water (a bonus!) that I can’t have at my work station, and make a loop around the workspace. It takes me about 3 minutes, unless I start chatting–but it adds up to something significant throughout the day and doesn’t distract me from what I’m doing if it’s computer-heavy. If I’m literally in the middle of something, I stand up to finish it and then do my lap around the lab. No excuses. I have a feeling my number of steps will increase when I move to New Job Land, which has an open lab space thing going on! Also, I like that it doesn’t tell me how far I’ve walked until I sync it at the end of the day–it’s very unobtrusive and doesn’t make me feel bad about not meeting my goal until I want it to do that. :)
July 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm
I hear those are good for preventing carpal tunnel too.
July 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm
No advice, but you wanted to know what we love to do about exercise: run/walk every morning, preferably before 7 a.m., on a great day before 6 a.m., 3-5 miles. I am addicted to the morning air and also to books on tape/podcasts, so it’s a perfect combination. Put on shorts & top, running shoes, sunglasses, & go. It routinely gets close to 100 degrees here, but it’s cool early in the morning.
July 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm
Despite #2’s grousing, it was 76 degrees when I checked her temperature this morning. She just never gets up early enough to experience that.
July 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm
I don’t live in the South anymore, but when I did, I did all my running at midnight. That worked when I was 18, probably would not be the best strategy now that I have a baby who gets up at 7 am.
July 30, 2014 at 8:41 am
I’m in a fairly temperate (but very humid in the summer) clime, so probably better conditions than #1, but I’ve found that it also helps to pay attention to what the weather actually feels like to me, as opposed to how bad the radio announcer (even on NPR) says it is. Of course, if it’s hot enough to cause heat/sweat rash in a person who’s sensitive to that, that’s a pretty good barometer that it really is uncomfortable/inappropriate weather for that particular person to exercise in. All I know is that I seem to be more tolerant of heat and humidity than your average radio weatherperson (or whoever writes his/her script), which gives me freedom to at least try walking before concluding that it’s already too hot/miserable (sometimes, of course, I find out that it really is already too hot/miserable).
July 30, 2014 at 11:34 am
As I was leaving for a conference the other week, the pilot was all, “It’s an uncharacteristically cool 88 degrees today in [hub city]” And he was right, that is uncharacteristically cool!
July 29, 2014 at 7:40 pm
Ok. Skipping a lot of replies, esp “you should” + “I don’t want to”. Boring :)
What I have done successfully:
1) Biking to work. Commute = exercise. Don’t care if it’s boring, ’cause it gets me where I want to go; I can leave whenever I want; I save $4-$7 depending on whether alternative was public transport or car; I get some sunlight; the car has crappy AC. Bonus now that transportation gods eliminated my express bus route and now biking is ~30 min while bus/train is 50 minutes with stupid 10 min transfer in middle so I can’t even just read or write.
2) Karate. Loved the focus on skill and a bit of philosophy. Loved thinking about how to break someone else’s human body, morbid & antisocial as that seems. Always felt very peaceful at the end. Yes, peaceful. It didn’t get me skinny or particularly strong but it was good for the mind & body.
3) Kettlebells. LOOOVE them. Cardio & strength in my living room. I even got a DVD to follow, the only exercise DVD I own. I like that because then I don’t have to do any thinking, I just follow the soothing voice.
4) Strength training. I got addicted. Squats & deadlifts make me feel powerful, and I found I actually am stronger than many women. Can’t fit into pants with those quads, but look great in a dress.
5) Running, only when I signed up for one of these relay things with a very dear college friend. I don’t really like running. I bet it’s good for me. I only started to like it some when I got barefoot shoes, because before that everything hurt. Running doesn’t agree with my metabolism, though; apparently my body feels that it is in some horrific deprivation state when I’m running regularly but not that much and so I just store fat like nobody’s business, and I don’t love it enough to do the millions of miles that it would take to combat that and actually put it into a horrific deprivation state that would empty those energy stores. Hah. Just want to put it out there — running isn’t the answer to everything.
I do like running at conferences — you see very interesting things. Homeless camps in Osaka, Japan, along the river. The levee in New Orleans. The less savory parts of Lousiville, Kentucky. That’s cool.
6) Currently am doing a “boot camp” small group class at the university with some random ladies from other departments. I don’t particularly love the battle ropes and TRX but I enjoy talking with women from other departments and job descriptions and it’s working for me physically.
7) Also was doing well with a pomodoro technique work thing combined with 10 situps or a downward dog or ten pushups at every break. Non-strenuous but trying to break up the sitting.
July 30, 2014 at 11:34 am
That’s a lot!
July 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm
I am a serial exercise monogamist. I only do one of these things at a time (except the commute). Apparently I eventually get bored by anything I do.
Heat rash has been a big problem for me the last two years. Don’t know why. Never was before. Since I mostly don’t run if it’s really hot out, it’s only really been a problem walking around in sleeveless dresses. I need to buy one of those split slips (bloomers!).
July 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm
Get a super-high-energy dog. You will have incentive galore to get your exercise: the boring kind of taking the dog to the dog park and throwing tennis balls until she’s worn out or the slightly-less-boring type of exercise that involves a few kilometres through the neighbourhood. Twice daily, whether it’s +35C or -35C.
I used to have a nice exercise routine at the local Y and then we moved far enough away that it became inconvenient. There’s a gym close to our current house but it’s noisy and horrid. At least, that’s my opinion. My partner and Eldest both are members there but it is not for me. There’s a lovely gym at the university but it’s far enough away from my office I can’t really make use of it given our wacky schedules.
If this dog wasn’t so darned needy, I’d be making more use of my exercise bike and the free weights we have here but no such luck. Off to bed so I can be up bright and early for another early morning walk to the park with two tennis balls stuck in my jeans pocket and a gamboling Rottweiler determined to chase down every fluttering moth or fragment of a leaf blowing across the paths we tread.
July 30, 2014 at 5:59 am
This is an example of advice I really really don’t want. (Remember: we just got down to 5 cats.)
July 30, 2014 at 11:33 am
You could try walking the cats! Hahaha. We put ours on a leash but they just lay in the grass.
July 30, 2014 at 11:34 am
You joke, but we do that. Just in the backyard though.
July 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm
I hate to sweat. This makes exercise really challenging for me, although I know I have to keep active or I’ll turn into an obese, diabetic person with chronic knee pain. (This is what happened to my grandmother and is now happening to my mother.) I’ve been blessed with a pretty good metabolism, but that only helps in the sense that I can usually get really active for a few months or a year, lose a bunch of weight, and then coast on that for another 3 or 4 years until the weight gain irritates me badly. I’m currently in the the irritation phase, so I’m working on ways to get the weight off, as well as keep my joints healthy and hold off the diabetes threat as long as possible.
Swimming or any type of pool exercise is nice because I never feel myself actually sweating. There’s a suburb nearby with an excellent aquatic facility and I would occasionally go there with a neighbor to do water aerobics. But it is at least a 20 minute drive away and the classes are more expensive since I don’t live in that suburb. The public pools around here are hard to figure out. None of them are really walking distance from the house and there is no place to park if I drive. Biking is out of the question, too, since then I’ll get all sweaty on the way home. One of the pools requires one to buy a card in order to go during the adult hours and to only swim laps. That’s too much for me to figure out.
I do belong to a gym and have kept going at least once a week to work with the personal trainer. I was trying to walk on the treadmill and add a bit of running here and there before I broke my ankle in early June. Since I had developed plantar fasciitis in a previous attempt to take up running, I’m thinking the running thing is something I really need to give up on since my body is clearly putting lots of impediments in my way. But it was nice to spend that treadmill time reading. I could also read and do the recumbent bike, I guess. (I used to sit on the recumbent bike and knit a few years ago but I couldn’t go very fast,) All of these things also involve sweating, though, so I have to try to ignore the sweating part as much as possible.
For the past two weeks I’ve been doing an exercise program at home using a DVD program that is based on pilates and yoga. It’s working pretty well for me, although I have to pause it a lot. That’s fine. I’ll get there eventually. I turn the fan on myself pretty high to try to keep as cool as possible and that helps a lot.
Riding is also exercise. Now that I’ve switched to western tack I’m not posting and getting that extra exercise, but it still works the core to stay balanced on a horse. Today I did 30 minutes of core exercises following the DVD, then two hours of trail riding. I am tired! :-)
July 30, 2014 at 6:14 am
It sounds like we need more public pool availability.
July 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm
I have not read all the comments. Was this “intentionally controversial,” or whatever those are?
I don’t have the rash problem or the allergy problem, but I do have the heat problem. Embracing the reality that I do not want to exercise in the morning (and won’t) and choosing to exercise in the afternoon or evening has helped, but of course makes the heat problem worse. What I have found makes a huge difference for me is filling 1 or 2 bottles (I like the collapsible ones, knock-offs of Vapur, but any will do including old 16-oz soda bottles; it helps if mouth is noticeable narrower than bottle) with water and freezing them (obviously put in a little less water than the bottle will hold and put in freezer with no cap or a loose cap), then carrying them with me. Holding them in my hands seems to keep me cooler (I also rub them on my forehead, back of neck) as does drinking from them as the ice melts. Tying a bandana around my neck with ~5 ice cubes (in a plastic bag, or not) in it also helps — a lot.
I may or may not be lazy, but even if not, I am a plodder. At least with physical stuff (not so much intellectual, although …), I am good at doing things where “all” you have to do is put one foot in front of the other over and over and over again, and bad at things that require exertion.
I’ve done various things over the years. I like walking/hiking and could walk for hours provided I can walk in the woods at my own pace, preferably in a place where my dog can run off leash. That doesn’t happen much, in my current world. What’s working for me now is Dr. Mama’s “Listen Up Maggots” approach to running (googleable if anyone’s interested). I’ve modified it a bit so that the rule is that I run for 35 minutes 3 times/week on non-adjacent days. What I love about her approach (in a nutshell: run slower! No, slower than that!) is that I can do it under a wide range of circumstances — in the heat, on rough/wooded trails, in the dark, after a meal, when I’m hungry, in a box, with a fox … the list goes on. And, it’s made a huge difference to how I feel (in a nutshell: better). So I keep doing it. I don’t outright “enjoy” it, but I can tolerate it, and it’s little enough that I can manage to do it. Funnily enough I also tried Couch to 5K, which many people swear by, and though I “got there” (the 5K part) I never liked it. So I quit.
I’d probably enjoy it more if I “could” listen to music, but I feel like I am safer with my ears to alert me to what’s going on around me. I have run once on a treadmill reading a book, and that was great, so maybe I should get a treadmill. We own an exercise bike (which DH can also use; he doesn’t run and isn’t supposed to due to hip replacement mentioned in an earlier comment on this blog), and I sometimes use that (usually while watching recorded Rachel Maddow, which works for me), but I don’t “like” it as much as running.
I do swim with DS, but rarely laps. I’ve thought about trying to incorporate some — I could use the upper body help — but squeezing swims into the schedule is hard (and I can’t swim laps while swimming with DS, he isn’t old enough to be left on his own). I do a bit of biking, a very little bit. I have a stepper with my sit/stand desk, and that is good for “moving” but too much exercise to blend with work if I really do it, while working. I’d like to get in more hiking and am thinking of making that a goal — it’s good not just physically but for sanity purposes. And on a recent vacation, DS showed pretty good interest in rock climbing, so I’m considering exploring our town or a local private (for pay) climbing wall with him — he’d probably enjoy it, and it would be good for me to join in, adding strength, upper body and flexibility, both things that could use work. We’ll see.
I usually ride anywhere from 2-6 horses a week, though not typically seriously, at least not all of them.
July 30, 2014 at 6:04 am
No, it was not. I didn’t even think that it was debatable (modest exercise goals => modest exercise plan), but #2 tells me I was being naive. Because the minute you’re a woman and mention exercise, you end up with people like CPP telling you you’re doing it wrong and then mansplaining that you need to do what he says and not be rude and dogmatic about not listening to him and doing what he says. She says it’s the patriarchy feeling like they should have control over women’s bodies.
#2 also has horsies as her exercise of choice.
July 30, 2014 at 11:00 am
In fairness to CPP (and I always hate to agree with him), I think patriarchy convinces women that they are not supposed to enjoy sweating (“Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow”) or being strong.
On the other hand, as I’m sure you’ve seen with women who dislike/fear math, approaching patriarchy-entrenched resistance with “you should” doesn’t help much.
July 30, 2014 at 11:06 am
This woman, as stated in the original post, gets rashes when she sweats. This woman does not enjoy rashes. That has nothing to do with the patriarchy and everything to do with skin.
July 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm
I don’t get rashes from sweat, but I still DO NOT LIKE IT. I have to be out of mind (in a good way) in order to be sweaty and not get intensely irritated. In the past I’ve been able to get to that point when really engaged in gardening, and currently it doesn’t bother me *as much* to be sweaty when I’m riding. My natural inclination is to stop whatever I’m doing to make myself sweaty and find a cool place to get unsweaty (whether that be sitting the shade and finding a breeze, getting in front of a fan, or getting in A/C.) What does my personal level of comfort have to do with patriarchy? I am moving to California specifically because it has much warmer winters than Chicago AND the summers are not sticky hot. If I was only interested in escaping winter I could move to a lot of places further south, but I do not want to be living in those places in the summer.
July 30, 2014 at 6:05 pm
I blame the patriarchy for excessive research into colorful lipstick cosmetics, relative to research into nice rash-preventing skin cream.
I also blame the patriarchy for people not intuitively realizing that nearly all of our values and attitudes are influenced by patriarchy. As far as I am aware, all genders sweat, and that the cost: benefit calculations involved in deciding whether the unpleasant aspects of sweating are “worth it” in a given context are influenced by personal tendencies in sweating, but also by what else we value. I blame patriarchy for teaching men to relatively overvalue strength and competition, and undervalue horsies/gardening/family, and teaching women the inverse. (obviously all well-rounded humans should value all those awesome things, though some interindividual variation is to be expected, particularly for the unfortunate people who were stepped on by horsies as impressionable young children).
July 31, 2014 at 12:29 pm
just curious … it’s not an issue for me (yet; you never know with perimenopause) but with the sweating rash … has anyone tried using diaper rash type cream? would it work? it’s basically an anti-inflammatory isn’t it? or those Gold Bond foot powder type deals?
ignorant here. :-)
July 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm
I think part of my problem is heat rash and part of it is allergy. And I’m allergic to talcum powder too (or rather, the fragrance that usually comes with talcum powder) among many other things. Not allergic to zinc or cornstarch, but those don’t help with the heat-rash part even if they do help with protecting the skin from sweat.
The diaper rash type cream doesn’t work on my baby’s actual bottom… it isn’t anti-inflammatory, just meant to keep skin from irritating itself when it touches itself or gets wet. It’s usually zinc or petroleum.
July 31, 2014 at 12:44 pm
jeez. in that case, I’m totally on board with avoiding sweat.
July 29, 2014 at 11:37 pm
Understanding the impact of impediments and the importance of embedding exercise in my routines was key for me doing exercise consistently, as was realising that I’m not particularly disciplined and need to scaffold my success rather than just push on through with sheer will. I do yoga at a place that is a 5 minute walk from the bus stop I get off at when leaving work, and I walk 30 minutes to the bus every morning. These are made easy because I have to change buses to get to/from work and I hate waiting – so cutting out a bus/ leaving the bus stop for an hour to do something else is a plus. If I don’t go to work, I do no exercise. It’s easier to keep up the work routine than the exercise one, because the work routine pays my bills.
July 30, 2014 at 6:07 am
July 30, 2014 at 7:57 am
Didn’t have time to read all the comments, but this summer I’ve been trying to embrace the idea that the irregular sporadic exercise pattern that results when I do pretty much what you’re trying to do — trying to get into habits/routines, but getting interrupted by an irregular schedule, weather, and plain old “I don’t feel like it today” — probably allows time to consolidate gains, and provides for appropriate rest periods. This is probably hooey, but, hey, I’m moving more than I was at the end of the semester, and feeling better.
I’m also getting to an age (10 or more years greater than yours, I’d guess) where it’s becoming clear that I really do have to keep moving on a more regular basis if I wish to be able to keep moving (and/or not have to go through some sort of formal rehab to get back to moving). That’s worrying in a way, but I find myself embracing it to a considerable degree, since it gives me a reason to place regular sustained movement higher on my priority list, with the mental argument that it’s necessary long-term maintenance. I’m also pretty sure that, although my attempts to move more in the past have also been sporadic (in a year-to-year rather than day-to-day sense), I do have an easier time doing the things I try to do (mostly, walk, lift weights using a home program outlined in the “Strong Women” books by Miriam Nelson, and swim; I’m thinking of getting the bike serviced and adding that this fall) if I’ve done them anytime in the last 1-3 years than if I haven’t done them at all during that period. So, at least for me, at least some gains in the ability to move are more cumulative over a longer time than one might think.
July 30, 2014 at 11:18 am
This comment is so useful — I love that first paragraph!
July 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm
aging-related confirmation: use it or lose it applies to EVERYTHING. Brain, body, emotions, libido. We just got back from yet another trip trying to sort out my MIL’s life and basically because she hasn’t done anything (mentally or physically) for ten years except sit and watch TV, the basic resources are shriveling up. I would guess that she’s lost at least 20 IQ points, and walks worse at 79 than her mother did at 90. I have two other cautionary tales in my own grandmothers.
July 30, 2014 at 11:26 am
I read only the first third of the comments b/c as an exercize-a-phobe they started to give me anxiety, so sorry if this has already been posted. As a “public health” researcher I would like to chime in and add that the neoliberal imperative of individualized responsibility for health/fitness and engaging in “behavioural change” to be oppressive and somewhat stigmatizing to those of us outside of the gym/yoga class/triathlon training cult. I would argue that you are not entirely “lazy” but rather it is your built environment that does not support your getting the physical activity you might want/need. This is the case for most of us who have to sit on our butts and write all day.
Where I live in the pacific northwest there is a culture of health that is so effing annoying! When I first moved here someone actually said to me “You live in XXX now – you should really take the stairs!” When people ask me what “winter sports” I participate in and I say “none” I am looked at like an alien life-form. My standard response to the running fanatics has been “I am from (large urban centre). I only run for buses and when someone yells ‘GUN’ in a nightclub.”
July 30, 2014 at 11:30 am
Fantastic points! The environment is SO important for these things, and not just the weather. Urban planners can make things easier (public transit, parks, pedestrian lanes, etc.) or harder.
July 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm
@becky – I heart you so very much for THIS: “Where I live in the pacific northwest there is a culture of health that is so effing annoying!” AMEN! Totally agree.
For me, in my heart of hearts, exercise totally sucks (!!!) and pretty much always seems to me like a huge waste of my time – time that I am so much happier to spend watching great TV and reading books. Since my teens, I’ve been irrationally afraid of dying before I get to read all the books I want, and watch all the TV/film I want. [To which my DH says: “Exercise actually creates more time.” And long-term he’s probably correct, but see, I’m sitting here in the short term.] Honestly, I have my hypertension to thank for basically scaring me into exercising. Because if I had normal bp readings, and a less-frightening family heart history, I would totally not exercise at all. (And what a wonderful world that would be!) Nope, I will never self-identify as an exercise lover, but I will persevere.
July 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm
@hush and others: if you hate formal exercize but are interested in how much and what type of activity is needed to improve health, I recommend watching this most excellent viral video by one of our colleagues in Toronto, “Dr. Mike.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo
TLDR: Basically the dose-response relationship levels off after just 30 minutes of activity and walking (just plain not sitting) is as effective for improving outcomes for major disease (incl. hypertension) long-term. So basically: just walk.
July 31, 2014 at 11:55 am
I never did formal exercise or sports, and I lived in the South for 22 years (Georgia) so I know EXACTLY what you mean about climate. I basically never went outdoors unless I was intending to get gross (e.g. “let’s go out and cut brush for a couple of hours”).
Started doing yoga at 28, and not entirely sure what the catalyst was. However, I saw some interesting positive effects very quickly, and having settled on a me-friendly practice (at home, self-designed, with very occasional coaching for form; I hate most group activities but especially group exercise classes) found it very simple to keep up with it. One of my keys was to not practice with some preconceived notion of how many minutes I had to do, or which asanas I had to do. The only “routine” part of the practice has been that it is a first-thing-in-the-morning practice. Cat care, cup of tea, yoga.
Now, 20 years in, my body makes it blindingly obvious when I have not been doing enough yoga, or the yoga I need to do. Sleep, digestion, menstrual period, balance, basic energy level, mental acuity, and posture are all cues for me to do more – or different – yoga.
Aside from that, my sport is ballroom dancing, and (though we are taking this year off to deal with a family drama) it is an activity with so many social, emotional, mental, and physical benefits that I can’t imagine ever not wanting to do it. I would go to a class or lesson every day if finances and time permitted.
July 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm
holy moley comments!!! I say every little bit counts. Something is better than nothing. I do bribe myself with new exercise clothes purchases. I also find that getting started is the hardest part. In short, I’m with you :-) just keep doing what you like.
July 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm
or at least don’t hate!
July 31, 2014 at 9:57 pm
yes, that too :-)
A little more elaboration: I find it really helps to have some mechanism to get me started. I think you mentioned that up post, except that you get interrupted on bad weather days (and, if you’re in the same part of the midwest as us, we’ve had plenty this summer, tho I am enjoying the relatively mild weather). I found that linking exercise to some other habit, like going for a walk right after dinner, is what makes it easiest for me to get some.
Right now, our exercise is going for a 0.5 mi walk until I’m all healed up and can handle more. The walk is contingent on our little one settling down enough for us to squeak in some time. Any more than 20 minutes in the evening, and she starts squawking for food.
August 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm
I’ve done various and sundry workouts over the years but never really loved any of them until I discovered mountain biking. It’s quite an amazing feeling to a book-reading homebody to suddenly find a workout that one does not to be virtuous but because it’s so damn fun. It’s great exercise and I feel like a kid again whizzing around on singletrack. Plus, I’m an avid gardener, so the wildflower viewing is a plus.
I still have to exert some willpower because I have terrible allergies and so I often feel too tired to ride. Once I drag myself to the trailhead I am usually happy I did, though, and that makes it a lot easier to keep up than jogging was. I really ought to be doing some type of yoga too to offset all the hours at the computer but that has been hard to work up to lately.
December 31, 2014 at 1:59 am
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