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Move Yo‘ Ass!

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Thirty minutes on a treadmill is all it takes for me to get some perspective.

Yesterday, I had the kind of day where the “voice in the head” was taking me for a little rocking chair ride (the ride that gets you nowhere) and I was wearing shoes that made my feet hurt as if that were the reason for its being. So come 5:30, when the line I was in at the grocery store was moving s-l-o-w … I wanted to whine and stomp (oh, that won’t help my feet) in front of the inept cashier. Unlike normal people, I get stressed about being stressed. I detest getting stressed that’s why I hate it so much when I get swallowed up by stressful situations. Thankfully, I had enough common sense to figure out that what I needed was to hop on a treadmill and shake off my anxieties. I get to my gym, change up in the locker, put on my trusty Nikes, and I thought to my self, “Heck, if my stress isn’t going anywhere then I’m going to BE WITH my stress. Let’s see if the ruminating can last five minutes on the treadmill.” I felt a little bit better.

I had every intention to just walk a decent pace on the machine, just to get the feel-good hormones flowing. I felt drained enough at that point that I didn’t want to push myself some more by subjecting myself to my usual arduous interval routine. I even had slow music on to match my brisk walk pace. But maybe, thanks would have to go out to MJ for the song Man in the Mirror to get my little “warrior” energized and encouraged again, that seven minutes into my treadmill walking, I found it irresistible to run. I just had to jack up the pace to 7.5 kph at the first few notes of The Way You Make Me Feel. Ever since I read that article on that flashed “brief and intense trumps dutiful and steady,” I’ve switched to interval running (where there are bursts of sprint running with rests in between.) But this particular session, I wanted to see whether I could still do the long run. I’ll run ten minutes (half of what I used to do.) And I did it. The iPod is still the best running companion. As long as there’s music, the job gets a lot easier. I have weird work-out soundtrack favorites: Does anyone else get a high from Brittany Murphy’s rendition of Boogie Wonderland from the Happy Feet soundtrack? Or love running while listening to Mariah’s All I want for Christmas even when it’s not December? I like Forever by Chris Brown. “It’s you … and me … moving at the speed of light into eternity …” gets my feet moving. Sometimes, I also get all heroic when I’m tackling a 30-second sprint and the music changes and I think “It’s not about the music, keep going..” to keep my focus instead of fumbling for the next button on my shuffle. When winding down, stretching, or doing matt exercises, I like listening to sexy music. Coaxing out my inner (Nike) goddess, perhaps? So who else listens to Darkness Fell by Wolfgang when doing the Plank? Show of hands. I Wanna Be a Rockstar? Somebody by Enrique Iglesias? I can get sentimental even while working out: Seasons of Loneliness by Boyz to Men soothes me as I reach for my toes.

I will not be so bold to say that I love to exercise. I still struggle with it but it’s important to me. At least I make it a point to struggle with it, because half the time the struggle ends with exercise winning, and I relent and drag my ass to the gym. There are also times when I’m already putting my shoes on and I’m still in resistance to the task ahead, thinking thoughts like, “There are skinny women who don’t need to move a muscle to maintain a fantastic physique—it’s not fair!” I come from a family where “plumpiness” is prevalent and sometimes I ask myself, “Why do I even bother?” and of course the answer goes “Hypertension—that’s why!” Majority of the time, it’s the first five minutes that’s the hardest. Showing up is already half the job. The whole point is that I make the effort to make exercise a part of my life. Each time I go to the gym, I put a “G” beside the date on my planner. My goal is still to fill my planner with as many “Gs” as I can, and well yes, to lose 18 pounds. While vanity is still a part of my motivation to be fit, it’s becoming more obvious to me now that I also need exercise to keep me sane. I just feel like a better person when I exercise. It’s the only surefire way for me to get rid of the negative vibes before I come home to my son. I swear I have more patience and energy to play with him when I’ve hit the gym before coming home.

My fitness-quest has seen its share of ups and downs. I first enrolled in a gym in 2001 and I remember I was a quivering on the way up from my first few sit-ups. And I started with a humble goal of “If I could just run for two straight minutes on the treadmill” when I first started using the machine in 2004. Now sit-ups are a piece of cake and, when I put serious effort into it, I can do 10 x my initial time on the mill. And if that’s all I have to show for many years of engaging in some for of exercise, then I’m proud of my body for being able to do that. I still look forward to the day when exercise will be second-nature to me … I long to see the day when I don’t have to put Gs in my planner anymore because I KNOW I’m gonna go. I look forward to the time when, like Valerie Bertinelli, my deltoids will pop out when I’m working out. I look forward to being able to do ten push-ups instead of just one. The thought of running a marathon still scares the crap out of me, but it will remain on my list of goals. And if all that were to remain a dream out of my reach, then I’ll need to exercise just to feel like I’m me.


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