Corny title, I know, but I wanted to devote some time to talking about exercise.
My whole life I was never very athletically inclined. I was never great at team sports. Though I remember running around as a kiddo playing soccer and stuff as being a good time, I never had mad skills or anything. I was terribly intimidated by PE class. I could never reach my toes or do a pull-up for those Presidential challenge things (did anyone else have to do that stuff, or was it just a Texas thing?). I hurt my neck one time doing a somersault and was terrified of any gymnastics after that. I also couldn’t do a cartwheel, so when the gymnastics unit came around in PE, my parents talked the teachers into letting me do a written report instead because of my incapacitating fear.
When I was 15 I took up running for a summer and got obsessive about it. I was always a little heavier than my classmates, and running allowed me to lose 30 pounds over that summer (paired with millions of trips up and down the stairs in our house with weights in my hands), and that was a thrill for me, but I never could run for more than 8-10 minutes at a time, and when winter came around I hated running in the cold, so I stopped.
I took up Tae Bo in my parents living room for a couple years in high school. I practiced some Pilates in that same living room. I tried yoga at the age of 18 only to feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything, so I stopped that too.
I moved out of their house and into my first apartment, where I bought The Firm set of work out tapes and burnt out on those.
I took up running again, this time at a gym on a treadmill, where I was able to work up to 30 minutes of running at a time, but I only did it to lose weight… I hated every minute of it.
Then I quit exercising for a long time. Life had some strange plans for me, that I’m sure I’ll get into some day.
When I finally wanted to come back to exercise I was 24, overweight, and out of shape. The one thing that sounded appealing was biking. So I bought a cheap bike and rode the hell out of it and lost 25 pounds and was pretty happy.
Then I took ANOTHER hiatus from exercise for a couple of years. More weird life stuff for another time.
This brings us to about 2 1/2 years ago. I was 26 and overweight and out of shape AGAIN. I started biking again that spring and summer, and even though I was enjoying it, I wasn’t losing weight as easily as I had in the past. Winter rolled around and once again I found myself not wanting to exercise in the cold. In December 2008 Alex and I both joined a gym close to our house. (Funny side note – We were laying in bed watching the local news one night, where they were talking about a “gang shooting” that had happened in front of a nightclub that shared a parking lot with this gym. Where we live is definitely not known for it’s gang activity, and there were 25 shots fired, one person was hit, but not fatally, in the arm or something. The newscaster interviewed the owner of the gym, and the way they cut the interview it really seemed like he was just promoting the new gym special. I called him the next day and asked him if it was the “gang shooting” special. He laughed, said it was a holiday special, and Alex and I went down there and joined that weekend, lol.)
Shortly thereafter I received a promotion and a pay increase, so I signed up for a personal trainer. My goals at the time were not to lose weight (I was resigned to the fact that I’m a “big girl”), and I really just wanted to be stronger. I hated cardio with every fiber of my being and just wanted to weight train. I worked out long and hard with my trainer. I definitely got stronger.
I leg pressed 1040 pounds twice that day. It was a proud moment.
Slowly but surely my joints started screaming at me. My body didn’t like lifting such heavy weight anymore. I slowly started incorporating cardio in the form of the the bike at the gym. Then it got warmer and I would bike outside to supplement my weight training. Then my trainer got fired and I started training with the owner of the gym. We weren’t a very good fit. Then I lost my promotion due to company downsizing and couldn’t afford a trainer anymore anyway. THEN the owner of the gym just up and sold the gym and transferred our memberships to another gym, which upon visiting I just wasn’t very fond of. I was still riding my bike at this time, but I was really getting frustrated. What’s a girl to do?!
April of 2010 I decided I wanted to try yoga again. I had seen the amazing results of a lot of the girls in the blogosphere, and I was stressed and my muscles were tight and I thought maybe it could help. I’ll admit, I was very anxious about trying it again though because I am of larger stature, and I was really wondering if I could really receive any benefit from it. Alex bought me a beginner’s DVD and some yoga traction socks for my birthday, and I started there. I discovered I really did LOVE the stretching aspect. I started branching out and looking for more. I found Polly’s YouTube videos and started doing the easier ones that I was able to do with my limited practice, and I also ordered the DVD Polly had up for grabs at the time, and found that I loved it, but I wasn’t sure if I was really doing the poses correctly. I finally started searching for a class around town. I found a reasonably priced 4-week beginner’s series not too far from my house with Zelinda, and took that in August.
I was so impressed at her ability to make me realize and truly believe that yoga is for ALL people, of any size and shape. I started to become a little more confident and competent, and I continued to practice with her in a rented out dance studio once or twice a week. She has just opened her own studio as of last month, The Yoga Room, and as class sizes are increasing (I am SO happy for her on that!), she is now beginning to offer more classes, and I am going to continue to practice once or twice a week (for now while I’m in school) in her studio, and I do some poses at home as I have time. I have seen a dramatic increase in my flexibility (which I really had NONE when I started) and my muscle tone is much more defined than any of that time I spent in the gym. Yoga is changing my life, and I am so grateful to have rediscovered it and found a style I’m comfortable practicing.
Fast forward to now. I am BEYOND BUSY. I work full-time doing contract medical transcription work and I started massage therapy school at the end of September. Between work and class and homework, my “spare time” has really limited itself! I have really become a fan of “accidental exercise.” I signed up to show up to class early and stay late every Monday night for chair and table set-up and take-down. They pay me and another person $10 each week to do that, but I was definitely in it for the fitness aspect. Those tables are a bit heavy and cumbersome, and homeboy and I set up them up FAST. He lets me do a lot of the lifting and manipulating of the tables so I really get the most out of it. I’m always a little sweaty (okay, A LOT sweaty… I’m a beast) by the time class starts, but I am so grateful for the opportunity. I also like to park far away at the grocery store and lift heavy bags of dog food and stuff like that. I am also really happy to discover that giving massage in itself can be a very vigorous task. I practiced the full 60 minute Swedish routine on three different people last Sunday, and Monday I was definitely feeling it as though I had gone to the gym. I am so looking forward to a more active career!
I’ll get into the weight loss ups and downs of my life in another post, ’cause DAMN this got long winded! If you actually read the whole thing, kudos! What is your favorite work out style? Do you work out doing things you hate or have you found your groove?
And to actually put a couple more pictures into this post, last night I got together with a couple of ex-coworkers of mine. We had a wonderful time hanging out, and Julie made a delicious Mexican casserole with ground chicken, corn, refried beans, green chiles, cheese, and a souffle like topping to it that was just delicious.
She was kind enough to send me home with some leftovers, which I will be enjoying shortly for lunch.
I also got to meet her incredibly pretty and extremely mischievous kitty, Kiska.
On the agenda today are some pumpkin bars and a casserole of some sort, recipes coming tomorrow. Enjoy your Sunday!