Tag Archive for exercise

Jogging makes you healthy but at what cost?: Or why is exercise so easy to avoid?

celebratory lunges

 

Just before the start of the semester, one of my friends on Facebook posted a status asking about where she should start if she decided to go to the gym. The flood of answers was enthusiastic, but there were so many different suggestions about classes and programs, and she’d never been to any of these classes so she had no clue which ones were for her. The comments were a flurry of times, dates, and suggestions of “come with me to this!” From where I was sitting, it looked a little overwhelming.

To be fair, the idea of exercise to me is exhausting itself, never mind actually going through with it.

April gets it

April gets it

I’m no stranger to getting active, of course. Although we were under no illusions about my chances of actually succeeding in school sports, my parents still took me to a myriad of practices and games for soccer and basketball when I was in grade school, bless them. I ended up dreading practices that would lead to games where my main role was bench warmer, and I scrambled for any excuse to skip them. I decided to love myself by letting go of sports and thought that would be the end of exercise, but falling in love with theater in high school meant dance practices at least two nights a week in the spring.

And honestly? I didn’t try to get out of dance practice like I had soccer and basketball, but I thought about it more often than not.

That’s a little messed up, right? These activities were supposed to be fun, but I was avoiding them as much as possible. And if sports were supposed to be fun, how was I supposed to actually start going out of my way to exercise without the added promise of being entertained?

So it was really easy to write exercise off. I mean, I walk to class every day, trudging over WKU’s ridiculously steep campus hill; that’s got to count for something. Plus, it would take way less effort to not go to the gym than to actually try it out.

But that’s a bit of a defeatist attitude, so every few months, I’ll look up a bunch of simple things that I can do to be healthy—maybe I’ll take a walk or two outside before other concerns quickly become more of a priority and leave me with no further interest in exercise.

However, trying to keep up with yoga classes, little walks around campus, and having a set group of friends that are also trying to live healthier are a few things that are keeping me consistent and accountable for once, which leads me to the best part of this post: the concrete advice!

Terry Crews of Brooklyn 99, a very muscle-bound gentleman who’s in “ridiculous shape” according to Men’s Fitness, has some somewhat ridiculous advice that makes a lot of sense:

upbeat, positive, and potentially doable - thanks Terry!

This advice might be silly, but it’s also upbeat, positive, and potentially doable.

It always helps you form a habit when you’re doing something that you want to do, rather than something you feel compelled to do.

So running on a treadmill might not be for you, but if you’re like me and music gets you going, carve out some time to listen exclusively to One Direction or the Legally Blonde musical or that new Rihanna music and just move. If I’ve got the Take Me Home album playing, I’m going to end up bopping all the way to class without even thinking about it.

Be sure to look into all the classes that your gym offers because sometimes, let’s be real, they’re awful and most definitely not for you, but sometimes you can really surprise yourself. Yoga can be a pretty nonthreatening gym experience, and if you’re still nervous, there’s all kinds of information online that you can familiarize yourself with beforehand. I love the way that I feel after a yoga class, because even though there’s a lot of effort involved, there’s a focus on warming up and cooling down, and the instructor is often reminding us that we can go at our own pace while also giving suggestions for ways to challenge ourselves in whatever pose we’re on. I cannot emphasize just how much I love yoga, so y’all should try it out.

There are also a ton of cool superhero workouts that people have posted online, so you can choose your favorite and go for that too if you are intimidated by more traditional workouts.

It also helps to get someone else involved. Tell people that you’re going. Get them to come with you, especially if they’re good at making exercise a priority. Having a pal can make things feel a lot less serious, and it keeps you accountable to each other as well.

Healthy means more than just physical health though, something guest blogger Natalie Rickman wrote more about in her “This is my brain on exercise” post.

Exercise can be intimidating, but there’s a ton of things that you can do to make it easier. So focus on finding what works for you, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

—Molly Couch

This is your brain on exercise: 

how I conquered depression by moving my butt
… a guest post by Natalie Rickman

Natalie1

It’s hard to talk about my depression now because I don’t really remember it. The parts I do remember are really painful, and when I think back on them, I squirm in my seat with regret and embarrassment.

I do remember that days turned into nights, turned into mornings, turned into days, and I was floating, walking around existing, mostly just sleeping, and drinking whiskey and diet soda for months.

I first became depressed in February of 2014. I’ve battled anxiety sine I was about thirteen, but I had never been so unbearably sad. I was in denial for a short time, and then the floor broke through, everything I knew crumbling at my feet. I dropped out of college, I ended my relationship with my boyfriend of over a year, I was always drunk, and I was experiencing migraines four or five times a week.

My life was wrecked.

I picked up more hours at my part-time job at the fro-yo store where I’d worked since high school and took on more responsibility there. It was mundane work, but I was making money and making myself get out of bed everyday.

But I finally came through the depression about six months later, and energy started to creep back into my body. I reconciled with my boyfriend, re-enrolled in college, and gradually I was able to try a little more. Even though I was still experiencing the migraines, I had so much energy. Some people might call this behavior “manic”—some people being my mother—but I held on to my high and started writing and cooking again and faced a goal that would ultimately be what pushed me through manic and onto a more stable wavelength.

I also started running. I became friends with this crazy, runner girl and asked her to coach me. I told her I wanted to get in shape, that it was my lifelong dream to run a mile.

What a dream.

But we went for it, mostly because she was ready to start training for a 5K and liked having a running partner, but also because, I believe, she wanted to help me.

Because I was enrolled in school again, I had access to the university’s fitness center. We started on the treadmill, and I was surprised to find that I could run half a mile in about six and a half minutes. We kept going, training every day, and soon I was able to run an entire mile in ten minutes and then I was able to run a mile in nine minutes. We went on like that for months, training like mad people, sweating and showering and sweating and showering.

Here’s the crazy thing—while I was training like that, I had virtually no anxiety and no panic attacks. I also wasn’t the least bit unhappy. I was sore, and when I slept, I slept hard, but I wasn’t sleeping too much. I wasn’t mad at everyone all the time either. Everything was easier to handle; all my tasks were realistic to me.

All the while I’m running a mile here and there and doing yoga in the park, challenging everyone I knew to a planking contest like a dumbass, and feeling great for it. At the same time, there were all these voices—all the doctors, my mom, and various other people—telling me what they’d been telling me for years: “Exercise can help you feel calm.” They were right, and, in fact, exercise helped me more than medication. Where medication mad me sleepy and puffy, exercise made me take hard, calming breaths and gave my body a tightness I didn’t know it could have.

I haven’t been depressed since I started running, and though the migraines are occasional, they are less frequent when I run a mile a few times a week and eat a piece of fruit. Fruit! Who freaking knew?

The training isn’t as hard now either; we are lucky to get together twice a week. But both my friend and I feel better on the days we go, even when we haven’t run in a week, and the warm-up makes us want to hurl. The nausea goes away, but the good feeling in my chest—the feeling that makes me stand taller—lasts.

I’ve learned that if I treat my body well, all other parts of my life benefit. People tell me depression is a battle that I will never stop fighting, and while I believe them, I don’t feel helpless anymore. Running is my new battle, and it’s one I’m fully equipped to tackle. It’s one that not only gives me the energy to live a better life, but gives me the focus to live a more authentic life.

*

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NATALIE RICKMAN is a junior creative writing major at Western Kentucky University. She was born and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and loves shitty beer. She one day hopes to own a vintage clothing store.

The Evolution of Me… a guest post by Fallon Willoughby

I want to tell the story of my own struggle with weight.

As a child I was always very pudgy. I never really thought about it because I wasn’t really that overweight. My mom always said I just hadn’t grown into my weight, hadn’t yet lost my baby fat.

But one day when I was in sixth grade my father told me I was getting fat and needed to lose weight.

I was utterly devastated. Honestly, I do not remember much beyond the simple fact of my father saying those words. I did hope to lose weight though I never thought about doing anything drastic. But, Lord, his words hurt.

Not long after that, I grew into my weight. I went from being chunky to weighing 110 pounds. I mean skinny…

That was my senior year of high school. Then I married and became a college freshman. So I gained the freshman fifteen and the married fifteen: thirty pounds in such a short time. I’m not sure how I managed not to notice until suddenly my pants wouldn’t fit over my bum and my shirts were too low-cut because I suddenly had boobs!

Here’s me a year later…

The crazy thing is at first my weight gain didn’t bother me.

My husband loved it. I bought new clothes. Friends from high school saw me and commented on how much better I looked. My family said I no longer looked like a bean pole. My favorite comment would be from a friend in Walmart who loudly announced that my new curves, bum, and boobs looked amazing.

As I said, it was a change that didn’t seem to bother me.

Fast forward another two years, and I gained some more weight.

My thighs, already large, were getting bigger. My new clothes weren’t fitting. My stomach… oh, the stomach.

Still, I ignored it.

Then a nurse commented on my weight gain. I could no longer ignore the problem. I was gaining quite a bit of weight and I was way over my healthy weight. I became self-conscious in ways I never was before.  I worried about my weight and my stomach chubbyness most of all. I noticed other women who looked so much better than me. That’s when envy set in. Ooooh, the envy for a better body. (Pinterest sucks, by the way.)

I finally decided to do something. I lost weight by exercising and cutting back on fast food last summer. I was very, very proud of that.

But I didn’t diet. I have never ever believed in all those stupid diets. I knew that just because you dieted for a bit and drastically lost weight doesn’t mean you won’t gain it back the instant you go back to normal habits.

I wanted to change.

Since last summer, I have basically quit exercising. It’s depressing, but I tend to have problems finding the time. Of course, that’s also procrastination on my part. I love to Zumba and to walk, but walking is much harder to do when it’s freezing outside. At the moment, I’ve hit a stalemate. And fast food is soooo easy during the semester.

My husband still tells me I’m beautiful. But some days I have a really hard time believing it. Not to mention my acne has taken a major turn for the worse.

One day I mentioned all of this to my friend Heather, and she let me have it. She wrote a blog post about why we should stop hating ourselves and dedicated it to me. I squealed. And I felt beautiful.

I try to hold onto that most days.

FALLON WILLOUGHBY is a self-described wacky college student, a double major in history and English. Her dream job is to be a history professor focusing on the history of magic or the Middle Ages or Renaissance. She is married toher high school sweetheart. You can read her blog at Historian in Progress.

She works hard for her money…
but lets her health go a little bit too

I’ve had a challenging few days…

…this weekend I put the “labor” back in Labor Day, reading almost fifty short stories, reading and writing a review of a dense novel for the local paper, reading half of another novel I’m teaching this week, and prepping for all of my classes. All that was on top of regular life stuff like laundry and cooking and grocery shopping.

This meant my resolve to be healthy slipped a little bit.

I still worked out at least 45 minutes a day (barely making it to that minimum), but I also got less sleep than I should almost every night and ate two meals in front of the TV over the course of the holiday weekend (because it felt like the only time I could watch TV) and ate more than I should when I did eat in front of the TV.

(Incidentally, the latter told tell me that giving up eating in front of screens—which I did a few months ago—was one of the smartest things I could do for my body, and that I must stick to it even if it means giving up TV completely for days at a time when I’m overwhelmed with work.)

Now that I’m back on top of my workload, I’ll be able to avoid these bad habits and tow the healthy line more fully.

But I’m still frustrated.

I’m frustrated because I wonder if there will ever be a time when I don’t give into bad habits when I get busy. Will I ever maintain my resolve to live healthy when the going gets tough?

Sometimes I think that if I can’t do this—if I can’t be healthy when it’s hard to be healthy—that I’ll never be as happy as I could be.

So it is with renewed resolve that I go to bed tonight, ready to fight tomorrow for the discipline to be healthy all the time—even when I don’t have the time or energy to be.

Kicking my bootie: how boot camp is reminding me
of the importance of variety

This week I did something certain people—people who will go unnamed—think is absolutely nuts: I joined a boot camp.

I’ve heard about boot camps from friends and family members who’ve gone down this extreme road before. In fact, boot camps have become so ubiquitous they’ve even been spoofed on television and in movies, most recently in the hugely popular Bridesmaids. But I had never participated in them before because of one simple reason—they usually happen before the sun comes up, and I am as much a morning person as Mark Zuckerburg is a fashionista. In other words, not at all.

But happily the boot camp I’m participating in—Bowling Green Backyard Boot Camp—offers a morning and evening option: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:45 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. I think you can guess which time I signed up for, and if not, here’s a hint: the sun doesn’t appear in Bowling Green until nearly 7:00 a.m. each morning.

(For this reason, I’m trying not to think about the fact that the combined Saturday session convenes at 7 a.m., a time I usually reserve for dreams about Feminist Ryan Gosling.)

But the afternoon time isn’t the only reason I signed up for boot camp.

Some of you know that I’m a firm believer in daily exercise, and when possible, I try to exercise more than once a day—something I discuss at length in the healthy living section of this blog—but one aspect of exercise I’ve been really lousy about lately is varying my exercise routine.

Like most people, I’ve fallen into the bad habit of doing the same thing day after day after day. For me, that’s walking. I walk 50-60 minutes every day with my husband, almost without fail. But for the past six months, I’ve been really bad about doing only that and nothing else.

I’m supposed to be doing all of the other things I love—biking, swimming laps, canoeing and kayaking, playing tennis or basketball, strength training, attending aerobics classes, etc.—and for most of my life, I have. But somehow that’s all stopped over the past six months, which is why I signed up for boot camp.

Still, at the same time, some part of me thought, Oh, what’s the big deal? I work out every day. How much good will this really do?

It was a thought that didn’t last long.

Because my first boot camp session started at 5:30 this past Tuesday, and at exactly 5:35—with my pulse racing and my muscles screaming—I suddenly got it: my workouts have become too routine and not nearly rigorous enough.

In short, I’ve become complacent.

And as soon as 6:15 rolled around and us boot campers high-fived each other for making it through our first workout, I realized I already felt more healthy and alive than I’ve felt in months.

So as long as I don’t get injured (fingers and pinky toes crossed), the era complacency is over.

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