Tag Archive for walking

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

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

How to remember yourself after weight loss:
not hating who you used to be

…a guest post by Rachel Hoge

When I came to college everything changed.

But not in the way I expected.

I had to walk thirty minutes uphill to class, and—at 260 pounds—the shallow breaths and circles of sweat were embarrassing enough to make me skip class. Around this time, I fell into friendships with dancers and physical therapy majors, who traded television for treadmills and actually liked vegetables. And walking.

It seemed strange to me at first.

But eventually their habits became mine, and instead of gaining the freshman fifteen, I lost weight—around seventy pounds. I was still considered obese for my height, but I felt better than I ever had. After years of quietly being overweight, I finally knew how it felt to be confident. When anyone noticed my weight loss, I told them thank you and that really, I was happy to have changed.

But that’s not entirely true.

It’s been over three years since then, but something strange has happened: I can barely remember who I was seventy pounds ago. I’ve created an identity without my past—without those hard moments that molded me into who I am. It’s like the shame that comes with seeing old pictures of yourself—a thank God I don’t look like that anymore moment.

What I don’t understand is why.

I’m the same person I was then—an aspiring writer, a young adult full of hope—so why is a bigger jean size powerful enough to make me want to forget?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad to know more about nutrition. I’m glad I exercise—it genuinely makes me feel better. I’m glad that my lifestyle is healthier. But I’m not glad that this embarrassment, this shame, has made me want to erase some great years of my life—all because of my weight.

I think it has something to do with this: when my girlfriends and I talk about our bodies, someone always says, “I just want to be skinny.” Not healthy—rarely healthy. Just skinny.

I would rather walk up ten hills as “old” Rachel—my XL shirt dripping sweat—than feel embarrassed about who I was…or, for that matter, who I am. Because I’m not skinny. My thighs are heavy and my face is round and my stomach has stretch marks. But I’m beautiful. Because I’m so much more than my body.

And after years of weight loss, I’m only starting to understand how important it is to know that.

 

RACHEL HOGE graduates next May with a degree in creative writing. She will continue writing and plans to pursue graduate school.

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.

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