If you've been following my Twitter I walked 15.75 miles in the month of November. This is really impressive for my standards because I HATE exercising. If I had a choice between spending 30 minutes of my time watching a reality show [rerun] or power walking. I would be in favor of lying on the couch with my hand on my belly, glazed eyes, and anticipating the poorly edited antics of wannabe Hollywood IT boys and girls. I know its pathetic, but you do it too. In fact, you would be doing it right now if you weren't reading my blog at this very moment.
We all know the health benefits of exercise and yet most of us don't do it. I can think of a
10. Pay bills
8. Back up files in my computer
7. Vacuum the car interior
6. Throw out expired food and condiments from the refrigerator
5. Delete things I don't want anymore from my Amazon Wish List
4. Organize my CDs in alphabetical order
3. Roll coins to be deposited in the bank
2. Scrub the toilet
1. Pluck the white hairs on my head
These are samples of excuses that all of use make because we somehow cannot invest 30 minutes of our time out of a 24-hour day to exercise. I can't speak for everyone because some of you might genuinely enjoy exercise. But I can speak for most of America because I have proof. The news said that 30% of all Americans are considered obese. I am not obese, but I am one of them. I have an exclusive membership card to a large organization of people who won't get up and move their asses!
I have read that exercise can lead to benefits such as providing more energy, make a person feel good, look good, breathe better, digest better, have stamina, and live happier lives. That's pretty impressive! Isn't that what I want? Then how come I never do anything? It is because I always found 10+ excuses to do something else instead. And most of those excuses are things that I am not proud of. Organizing CDs in alphabetical order?! What does that matter? I'm the only person using my collection. Shouldn't I already know where my CDs are? They're excuses. Lame excuses.
Living with Ulcerative Colitis is all about second chances. I've lost a lot of things (energy, friends, support, and at times my mind). I live with a disadvantage and I have to work twice as hard to get what I want. I fight self-pity and self-doubt daily; sometimes winning, sometimes losing. But most of all I fight for control. This allows me to have my second chance and win back my life.
This all started on a Tuesday night. I remember this because I was watching the remake of 90210. I wasn't interested in watching Melrose Place so I flipped through my 6 channels (I really have 8 channels, but my digital converter has a love/hate relationship with CBS and the CW) and found The Biggest Loser. I've had my fair share of reality-tv show addictions, but never gave this one a chance. Most likely because it coincided with a prime-time drama that I like. I saw Bob's glowing face and Jillian's tough love attitude as they genuinely wanted to help some troubled people and I was hooked. I felt connected. I saw myself in these people. They felt like their lives have been robbed and they were fighting to win it back. They struggle with new diets and alien foods. They battle depression. They crave acceptance. Does this sound familiar? Was your mind blown?
How is it possible for these people to perform those Herculean tasks? They work out for hours! And mind you, they are working with all the disadvantages that come with obesity: Heart disease, diabetes, low energy, weak knees, shortness of breath, hot flashes... I am going to step off of my Ulcerative Colitis soap box now. I am pathetic in comparison.
Unfortunately I don't have Bob or Jilian to cheer me on or to provide structure. I came to the realization that even if I did have their help, it wouldn't matter five years ago. I wasn't ready. I wasn't physically able to. I had to relearn how to walk and the lacerations within my guts made any sort of bending too painful to move. After I got that sorted out I wasn't emotionally ready. I was too hung up on the trauma of living with my disadvantages. I was all alone and I gave up. I've been wandering for five years trying to figure out what this is, who I am, and where do I go from here. I still am. But you know what? Its ok. I'm willing to change now. I am ready. I'm starting with my body and moving forward with baby steps.
In the month of November I decided to confront my fear of exercise head on. I was successful because I did it my way. I turned it into a game. I made rules and I followed them. Its easy because I only made up two rules:
#1 Use equipment that I already own. While its always nice to take a walk or jog outside, sometimes the weather doesn't permit outdoor activities right? Wrong. These are more excuses. I have a treadmill so there's no reason for me to not find the time to exercise. If you don't have a treadmill, walk around in public places like the mall, the grocery store, or even Walmart. You're not obligated to buy anything, just walk. You have legs, so use them. Its free.
I also own Wii-Fit. I had a crick in my back for weeks and one day of Wii-Yoga fixed my weeks of miserable blubbering. Sometimes I forget I have Wii-Fit. I don't know why. Its fun when I remember.
#2 Don't push yourself. I know this sounds contradictory to the rules of exercise, but these are my rules remember? When I use my treadmill, I limit myself to 7 miles within 7 days. I can split it up however I want. I can walk slowly or sprint. I can take a day off, but that would mean the next day of exercise I would have to double my routine. It didn't matter how I split up my routine as long as I finished 7 miles within 7 days. I learned two lessons from this (a) doing this is a lot harder than it sounds, but the rewards and sense of accomplishment are priceless. This is coming from a person who HATES exercise. And (b) I would rather do 7 days of light exercise than 2-3 days of heavy exercise. In living with Ulcerative Colitis I have learned the limitations of my body. One day of heavy exercise would leave me completely exhausted and I would lack the energy and motivation to continue. I have tried the heavy exercise routine before. It leveled out to me exercising one day per month and that is not enough. I am amazed that the light exercise routine allowed me to walk 15.75 miles!
I am feeling so good and confident that I added light weights, modified push-ups, and crunches to my routine while still following rule #2. I'm looking forward to what I can accomplish in December. And if this continues maybe I can brave a bikini in 2010. And guess what, I still hate exercise. If I can do it, you can too.