Tag Archive for running

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.

An annual tradition… my year-end non-resolutions

photo-52

A grainy pic of me and the husband on New Year’s Eve this year.

 

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions in 2010 because I realized that resolutions focus too much on what we’ve done wrong rather than what we’ve done right.

Every year since then I’ve made a list of “non-resolutions,” that is a list of things that I accomplished over the past year that made me happy and proud.

(If you like, you can still read my non-resolutions from 2011, 2012, and 2013.)

This year the task of figuring out what made me happy and proud over the past twelve months has proven harder than ever before. That’s because this year I completed my most recent book project (a memoir about meeting my biological family) but still haven’t been able to find a publisher for it.

After working on that one single project for 4 1/2 years, it’s difficult to accept the fact that it may not get published.

But the truth is it may not.

As a result of that realization, I made a big change in my life and that’s what led me to my first non-resolution…

1) I’m most proud of the fact that this past summer I decided to make writing fiction my top priority so that I wouldn’t have to spend 4 1/2 years writing another book that didn’t get published. Instead I’ve committed to writing a book a year with the hope that if one of those books doesn’t get published, it won’t be as devastating as it has been when a book I worked on for YEARS doesn’t.

2) I feel truly lucky to be in a healthy marriage with a loving and supportive spouse who really gets me. And I feel equally lucky to have SO MANY great family members and friends that I don’t even have enough time to see them all in a given year.

3) I’m glad that I’m starting to learn to let things roll off of me a bit more. Those petty arguments we have with friends and family? They’re just not getting to me as much, and I’m not engaging with the drama that comes with those relationships, which is making me MUCH happier.

4) I’m also happy that I’ve continued to work out almost every single day, and I’ve added biking and swimming to my regular mix of walking, running, and going to boot camp.

5) I’m pleased, too, that I have continued to reject the notion that being skinny is more important than being healthy. I lost a few pounds this year, but some days those lost pounds show up on the scale like that loser ex-boyfriend who still writes on your Facebook wall twenty years after you dumped him. On those days, I just remind myself I’d rather be healthy than worry about a few measly little pounds (and to block said ex-boyfriend on Facebook).

That’s it for me this year!

I sincerely hope that you can take a few minutes today to focus on what you did RIGHT last year too.

Trust me, it feels REALLY good to do so.

Molly

Run free: why we should all run and walk and move as much as we can.

Next time you’re not sure you want to get up off the sofa to exercise, think about this…

There was a time when women weren’t free to exercise wherever and whenever they wanted.

In fact, women were still not welcome in the Boston Marathon as recently as 1967 (just three years before I was born).

That was the year Kathrine Switzer (pictured above) signed up for the Boston Marathon covertly (by using her initials rather than her whole name) and ran in the race. But while she was running, race director Jock Semple spotted her and tried to pull her out once he realized what she was doing.

According to Switzer, Semple “stopped the bus, jumped off, and ran after me. Suddenly I turned, and he just grabbed me and screamed at me, ‘Get the hell out my race and give me those numbers,’ and then he started clawing at me, trying to rip my numbers off. And he had the fiercest face of any guy I’d ever seen—and out of control really. I was terrified. All of a sudden my boyfriend, Big Tom, gave Jock the most incredible cross-body block that sent Jock flying.”*

(You can see Semple above chasing after Switzer like a madman above.)

After that, other runners protected Switzer, and she finished the marathon.

Not only that, Switzer went on to win the New York Marathon in 1974.

Women used to have to fight to be given the right to exercise and participate in athletic events. Don’t we owe it to women like Semple to exercise that right as often as we can?

 

 

You can see Kathrine Switzer’s story and more pictures from the marathon here

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