Today I have some thoughts to share on exercise. Or more exactly, my journey with getting/staying in shape. I have had many comments over the years that show peoples' lack of knowledge, or maybe just their attempt to escape reality. For example I have heard many times about how I am "naturally" thin. If I am eating something devilish I have gotten comments that it must be nice to eat what ever I want and be able to get away with it. Or if I turn down food, I might hear that I can afford to eat this food as I am the type who can eat anything they want and not gain weight. I always laugh when I hear these, because it couldn't be further from the truth. The comment I made about people trying to escape reality was made due to what I see people trying to have an escape clause as to why they are not fit. It shifts the blame to an outside cause, they didn't get a "naturally" thin body so they can't help it if they are not fit.
In our society unless you are in a business that demands hard physical labor daily, or you live off the grid and grow your own food using hand tools, it is safe to say that in order to stay fit you will need to exercise. We humans were made to *work*, and I don't mean at a desk job :-) I mean we are physically made to work. That is how we were created. And when we mess with creation, it never looks pretty. Think about it....not too many years ago people couldn't run down to the local grocers to buy a 5 pound bag of sugar. Not too many years ago people didn't have the servants we do, not unless they were rich. Servants, you say? Yes, servants, like your washer and dryer, your stove, your heating and AC unit, your vacuum......How did people wash their laundry when there were no washer and dryers? By hand. How did people stay warm without electricity? By chopping wood and carrying it in and keeping that fire going 24/7. How did people cook without a stove? I think you get the point....it was ALL work. All day long just to take care of the bare bone basics. So when people went to cook up their supper they didn't have a pantry of boxed goods, like mac and cheese, or Hamburger Helper, or canned cream soup, etc. They had to eat local foods in season. There were no Twinkies, or Ho-Ho's. I know many of you have read the Little House book series. Did you ever notice what they had for meal? A hunk of cheese and some bread was for dinner. Or butter and rolls and some milk. Meat was dried, and fresh meat was a rare wonderful treat.
So today, in our society, you need to lace up some shoes and get your heart pounding in order to stay fit. And I thought, if I didn't drive anyone away with what I wrote above (!) I'd like to share my fitness journey. Not for any other reason but to share the truth that it takes work to stay thin.
I was a freshman in high school when my friend suggested we try out for the basketball team. I'd never played sports outside of PE class, so this was new to me. We gave it a try and we both didn't make the team. So she suggested we try out for the volley ball team. I didn't make it, but I believe she did (can't remember at the moment). Come spring my friend suggested that we go out for the track team. I told her I wasn't up for any more tryouts, but she reassured me that you only need to join the team, there were no tryouts. I was game. I was also totally clueless about anything having to do with working out and getting fit. I wasn't overweight, but I was a bit 'soft' :-) I had a lot of sinus allergies, which proved to be a bit more of a problem once I started to run. I found out quickly that the $8.99 purple, Velcro, K-Mart sneakers I had were NOT meant for running in. I thought I had broken my shins they were in so much pain! After a week or two of having to limp around, and no money to buy a better pair of sneakers I had to quit. But somewhere in those two weeks I was bitten by the fitness bug. I wanted to learn more about getting in shape. So with some babysitting money I bought my first "Runners World" magazine. I found out from there that they made special sneakers for running (yes, this was a novel idea to me!). I'm not sure how I secured the money to buy my own pair, but by the summer I had my own pair of running sneakers (New Balance I believe).
It would be great to say that from that day on I just got out there and pounded the pavement and got in shape in no time, but that is NOT what happened. You see, those allergies...well they had a component to them that I didn't know about until I started exercising, it was called 'exercise induced asthma'. What that meant for me was that after I did a bit of walking to warm up, and then stretched, I could only run a total length of three houses. We lived in a neighborhood, with houses relatively close together. Three houses people! At the end of those three houses I would be *gasping* for breath. But I was pretty persistent about this getting in shape thing, and so the next day I got out there and ran those three houses again. I'm not sure how long I could only do three houses, but eventually I could do 5 houses, then 10 then I could get to the end of the street. By the end of the summer I was able to run a mile. A huge accomplishment for me to be sure. That fall I decided to join the cross country team. Yes, call me insane. That was a 3.2 mile race. I came in last, pretty much the whole season. And I don't mean last by a few feet or by 30 seconds......noooooo, I'm talking like by 5 minutes or more! I would have my inhaler at the finish line so that I could breath in a decent amount of time!
We started to see an allergist by the beginning of this cross country season. Supposedly he was one of the best in the field. When the subject came up about me running he absolutely insisted that *I COULD NOT RUN*!!! Under no circumstances should I attempt to do so. I told him I already was, and he told me to stop! ha!! Well being a bit hard headed that just gave me more determination to overcome this asthma. Yes, I was young and foolish :-) But I did press on. I remember track meets where I felt numb when I reached to finish line because of the lack of oxygen. I never passed out or anything major, but running was HARD. It was a battle every time I put on my shoes. Eventually easy runs got to be easier to handle breathing wise. But my races always left me wondering if I would make it to the finish line before I ran out of oxygen.
I joined the track team in college, but a recurring knee problem led me to quit. Although I was determined to stay in shape I was not willing to risk serious injury. I could not get over some of the other teammates who I know have to be suffering at this present moment from the stress and injuries that they ran through in those college years. I knew that this body of mine, if it was to reach old age was going to need two useful knees :-) So the following year I heard about the Crew team. I thought I would join that. No tryouts :-) Well, not in the normal tryout sense. Our couch knew very well that the rigors of rowing would thin out the masses. Alot of people joined the team for the prestige. Those people quickly left after a few weeks! The workouts were HARD. This coach was serious about rowing, and he expected his team to be as well. We were to be giving out best at every work out. I certainly wasn't the best, but I wasn't afraid of hard work. These workouts still left me gasping for air, but by then my lungs had gained more of an ability to take in air. So I didn't need my inhaler all the time, I just made sure to have it on hand.
Our team had 12 girls. Enough for a boat of 8 and the other a boat of 4. The boat of four was for the um....weaker ones....and that included me. Like I said our coach was very serious about rowing and he would only spend his time on the best of the best. So my little boat of 4 kind of got neglected. I remember our boat sitting down to dinner one night and we had a little pow-wow. We decided we were tired of being the neglected boat. We determined that when we were to be rowing and easy pace that we would row in medium pace. When we were to be at medium we would row at full speed. And when we were to row at full speed, we would go all out silly beyond what we thought we might survive. At first no one took notice. But then a funny thing started to happen. Our little boat started to keep up with the big boat! We were actually able to have races with the big boat. This was no small matter. The 8 boat actually weighed LESS than our 4 person boat, and there were only four of us to make it move. Well come our colleges regatta, we actually placed in second place!!! Our coach was totally blown away. Unfortunately for me during that race I slipped a disk in my spine and that put an end to my rowing career.
After that I stayed in shape by jogging or doing aerobics. It's hard to be your own boss when exercising is not easy. Making exercise a part of my daily routine really helped to keep it a part of my daily life. Otherwise I was prone to put it off till later in the day, and that pretty much always came down to it being too late. By making it a part of my morning routine I got it in and out of the way. After the first 5 children when I was feeling ready to start back up (usually 6 to 8 weeks postpartum) I would try to set up a routine in the morning. The first few months were hard. The baby wasn't always willing to cooperate :-)
Things have changed since Jed was born. I was getting back into shape like normal....until I started seeing problems with Jed. With the doctors appointments, then the hospital stay, all exercising was put by the wayside. It took months to try and find a 'normal' to our new life with a feeding pump and meds. I would say it was probably almost a year before I got back into trying to make exercise a routine again. I did so with Jonah's pregnancy. But after Jonah was born....well lets just say my little "pack" that I had with God about not ever having a child as needy as Flannery again didn't go through :-) Jonah was a total handful. And I honestly can say it wasn't until a few weeks before I got pregnant with this baby that I started back to exercising. Of course a couple weeks into the pregnancy I had to stop due to my cardiovascular issues! So now I find myself totally out of shape, in the worst shape I have ever been in. Not only out of shape cardiovascularly and muscularly, but also overweight. Yes, I'm pregnant, but only 13 weeks preggers and lets just say a few too many pounds have made their way to my hips and thighs! Ha! Seriously I always gain a lot of weight when pregnant. I'm talking 40-55 pounds! Things are not looking good for me at this point in the weight category. I find it very difficult to do every day things with an extra 50 pounds on me. And I really do not know how I gain that much. I'm being very serious! I exercise 5 to 6 days a week the whole pregnancy. And besides the first three months when pregnancy cravings and being absolutely ravenous takes over the rest of the pregnancy I eat healthy normal portions of food. Yet the weight piles on.
So I still have little energy. But I can breath and my heart is acting normal. So I went out and got some new sneakers and laced up yesterday for the first time in two months. It's a slow start, 20 minutes of walking, but it's a start. I plan on adding to that each week until I can get up to 45 minutes of walking. I'm hoping that by pregnancy;s end I can be back in shape for the labor! Oh, the labor, I will be seriously worried if I don't get in shape by then. Out of 6 labors, three were HARD, two were easy and one was so-so. And with all of those I was in shape each time. I can't imagine going through labor otherwise.
Well not sure where I was going with all of that, just my story. Hoping others will see that it doesn't come naturally for some to stay fit. For me it is a lot of work, not only physically but mentally. Being disciplined to keep with it is not easy either. It does get easier if I make it into a routine, but I still have to do it. There is no easy out, just a determination to stay fit (or to get fit, depending where you are).
This is REALLY long and it is late, so off to bed I go.