The Thing About Exercise

My opinion about exercise is this: if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.  That’s not to say that I’ve always got a huge smile on my face when I’m huffing and puffing through my run, or that it’s always hearts and flowers.  What I mean is that in order to have an exercise routine that becomes a lifestyle, you have to find something that you actually enjoy doing for most of the time.

For me, my exercise routine is all about running.  I started running when I was in high school.  For awhile there, I wasn’t allowed to run on the roads by my home.  My parents, being the reasonable, responsible people that they are, didn’t think it was a great idea to let a skinny blonde go running on deserted country roads surrounded by cornfields all by herself.  Thank goodness.

Eventually, I was considered grown-up enough to fend off any attackers go running on my own.  I loved running in the country, and I still say there’s nothing like it.  It’s relaxing to look around and see nothing but fields with the occasional cow or barn or tractor.  A car will go by every now and then, but mostly it’s just you.

I kept up my running during undergrad.  I must have had a death wish, though, because during freshman year I thought it was a good idea to go running in the evening when it was dark.  My big brother found out and quickly put an end to that, so I switched to being an early-morning riser.  Suburban running was strange to me.  All those sidewalks and streets and cars!  I didn’t particularly care for it, but it beat trying to hack my way through the masses in the student gym.  I expanded my running routes and added in some hills and trails, but I never had any desire to run competitively.  I did the rare 5K with my sister, but that was it.  Running just for the sake of running and staying healthy was my reward.

And then I got married.  Funny how having a 2 hour round-trip commute can put a cramp in your running style.  We lived halfway between my grad school and halfway between Chris’ grad school, and it was quite a drive for both of us.  I was also working on campus for 20 hours a week on top of a full class load.  I tried to continue my running, but the small town we’d moved to wasn’t very inspiring: piles of garbage, rusty fences, cavernous pot-holes, and a creeper who always seemed to be on his porch whenever I ran by.  Eventually I said, “Forget it!” and threw in the towel.

This was not a good decision.  I was up to my eyeballs in stress – working, studying, moving, making career changes –  and wasn’t doing anything healthy to deal with it.  I pretty much stopped exercising completely for about 2 years.  Net result: I gained weight.  Shocker, I know!

When we moved to Massachusetts, I was upset with myself for being so out of shape.  I started using the complex’s gym a few days a week, but I’ve never liked exercising with a bunch of other people.  I did some research and found a treadmill on Craigslist that was reasonably priced and within driving distance.  I promised Chris that if I bought it, I’d use it faithfully.

And I did.  I loved that treadmill.  I jogged 5 days a week in my own home.  It was different from running on the roads, but we lived in a pretty traffic-heavy part of town with no sidewalks.  It was very pedestrian unfriendly.  I also started to add the 30 Day Shred DVD, again, keeping the mindset that exercise was something to be enjoyed, not dreaded.  I didn’t do the DVD 30 days in a row as suggested, but worked at my own pace on top of my running.  Net result: I lost weight!  I kept up with the treadmill once we moved to South Bend, but backed off on the DVDs and basically maintained my weight {I did lose a few more pounds}.

We sold the treadmill before moving to New Zealand and bought a new one once we were over here.  I’ve gotten some good-natured teasing about my treadmill from some road-warrior family members and a few of my blogging friends 🙂  I know where you’re coming from – I used to be like you and swore that I’d never run on a treadmill.  But now, I’m really thankful for it.  I love that I can go for a run whenever I want to.  I love that I don’t have to pay a gym fee.  I like that I’m not running on the sidewalks of downtown Auckland.  And I really enjoy it.  I may never be a marathon runner or do triathlons, but I feel good about my running and it makes me happy.  I’d like to be in better shape than I am, and sometimes I read about you wonder-women out there who do all of these races and training and competitions and think, “Wow!  That’s awesome!”  But for now, I’m thankful for what I have and where I’m at 🙂

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11 comments

  1. Jenny @ Practically Perfect... says:

    Thanks 🙂 I think you have such a great attitude about exercise and parenthood. We don’t have any little ones yet, but I hope that when we do I’ll be able to be a good role model to them in regards to fitness and making time for yourself. I think it’s very wise!

  2. Sarah (Chez Lee) says:

    Great post and yah for your treadmill! I loved running at school and then got terribly unfit at Uni (way too much partying!!!).

    It wasn’t till my late twenties that I started running again – on and off between babies!).

    I find it hard to make the time for me with so many demands (little people) in my space, but when I do it feels great. I used to love ballet and jazz too, but spend my time now taxiing my children to classes.

    This spring & summer I really want to make time for my fitness as a healthy Mum is a sane, happy one, that will hopefully live longer and be a good role model to my children – right! I must keep telling myself this… as it’s so easy to get side-tracked with house chores and children 🙂 x

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m still (slowly) becoming a runner and I appreciate the treadmill. It helps with my pacing and timing. I can’t wait for the day when I head outdoors and just go for a 3 mile jog, but until then, I like the safety of learning on my ‘mill.

  4. ens says:

    i completely agree that you have to love what you’re doing and that’s great that you found something you enjoy so much. I find that for me, i have to mix it up.

  5. Gwen says:

    I totally agree with you!!! I never worked out until I found my kickboxing instructor. Now that he’s only working 2 nights a week I can’t seem to make myself go to any other classes. But I’m working at getting my love for running back. Keep up the great work girl!! XOXO

  6. Kate (sbs) says:

    the only exercise that i’ve ever really enjoyed was the kind that makes you feel like your dancing (one dvd i has is called yoga booty ballet) but i’m just not a fan of exercise in general. maybe you’ll inspire me. keep up your momentum!

  7. garden state prep says:

    When I have the space, I’d love to get my own treadmill and not have to pay a monthly gym fee. I adore running outside but when it gets dark around 5pm, I have to shift my running inside, for safety reasons. When I was in high school my parents would insist that I ran along main streets instead of in our local park.

  8. varunner7 says:

    Running is my thing too. I prefer to run outside of course, but we do have a nice treadmill that will do in a pinch (if hubby isn’t around to watch the kids or the weather is severe or whatever).

  9. Jessica says:

    I love this post and I so agree! I actually like to work out (has to be in the mornings though) but even though you won’t see a smile on my face it gets me ready for the day and I fell better! However, I do it for me and not to train or win anything so like you I am happy just running my 2 miles! Anyway, new to the blog and stopping by after seeing your comment on another. Your so cute and I look forward to visiting more!

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