Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Exercise Journey

I had a request to give some more details about my exercise journey.

First, I hate exercising. I really hoped that by this time I would be hopelessly addicted. Alas, even when I know I will feel great afterwards, even though it’s exciting to conquer things I haven’t been able to do before, even though it tones me up and makes my squish disappear, I do not enjoy it. I truly wish I did. I enjoy the results of traditional exercise, but not the act itself. What I enjoy is the kind of exercise that doesn’t feel formal. I enjoy moving. If weather, money, and time permitted I would do the following all of the time: take dance classes, hike, and kick box.

I think some of this stems from being such an overweight child. If you recall, by kindergarten I weighed 75lbs. By the time I was in 4th grade (about ten years old) I weighed 148lbs. I know this because I distinctly recall going to the doctor toward the end of my fourth grade year. I even remember what I was wearing-a white t-shirt and crazy orange elastic waistband shorts (because when you are as chubby as I was and under five feet tall, this is all that fits you). I remember hearing how much I weighed and knowing it was bad and being humiliated inside. Shudder. I wasn’t athletic at all. I couldn’t run with any kind of speed, I attempted two unsuccessful summers of trying to play softball, I tried going to a little basketball camp, and I couldn’t ride a bike until I was eight. Now that I think about it, more than anything I was just embarrassed to be seen. I jiggled, I flopped, I was bigger than some adults, I felt like I looked ridiculous and I didn’t want other kids to laugh at me. Thus, I think I developed this self imposed limitation that I couldn’t do athletic things simply because I would be laughed at and I would embarrassed. Does that make sense? Somehow I found dance and I really loved it. I had fun, the other girls were accepting, and I was good at it. This was the kind of exercise I enjoyed. I think this is why I have a love for Richard Simmons. Sweatin’ To The Oldies 2 was fun. I enjoyed it. I can still remember some of the moves to this day. I didn’t feel judged. There was Jane Fonda in her signature striped leotard making me feel horrible because she was an adult who under weighed me by pounds and pounds and then there was Richard Simmons who speaks so sweetly and jubilantly encouraged me to dance and “shake off those fat cells.” (A phrase I still think of every time I am going through a tough exercise routine)
But I digress. Cut to my journey from the past eleven months. Having been on a yo-yo up and down weight battle all of my life struggling with same 25-30lbs and feeling unathletic, I wasn’t sure what the best way to begin was. Months prior I had taken some dance classes and worked out on my home elliptical machine to work off some medicinal weight gain and that got me to a decent starting point. I hadn’t been a good exerciser for about four months and I felt like I was back at square one with fitness. So…. I just moved. I made a vow that I would just start slowly by moving every day. I would take a walk after work for a few miles and/or spend 15 minutes on my elliptical. That’s how it began.
Once I had gently reintroduced exercise I started testing the waters by trying a two week magazine fitness jump start that involved a lot of walking/jogging intervals, then committing to exercising at least three times a week (typically 20-30 minutes on my elliptical), followed by an overly ambitious attempt to burn way to many calories in one week. The first few months were spent mainly on my elliptical machine. While this is always good cardio, I was bored and knew that I should be giving some attention to my abs and belly so around August I started incorporating some pilates into the mix (and the occasional date with Jillian Michaels).

Some days were better than others but on the whole I was at a steady 30 minutes three times a week situation. By mid September I was getting overwhelmed, had reinjured my bum arm and went a whole week without exercising. I was getting busy with rehearsals for a show, so I went back to basics and vowed to move every day. In my opinion this is the best place to go back to when you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon. After getting back on track I was soon deep in the heart of rehearsals and didn’t want to lose steam so I made sure to do leg lifts and arms circles every day since I could do those at rehearsal. You have to squeeze toning in when you when you have two jobs folks! Around November and the time of my opening, I’d had a light few weeks exercise wise, but I still did whatever I could with the very limited time I had. I think this is key. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SMALL WORKOUTS. Every little bit adds up!

By December I had upped my number of workouts and started doing longer sessions and vowing to make at least two workouts each week one hour long. At this point I was doing mostly cardio/strength combo workouts from Exercise TV. (In December I also embarked on clean, animal free eating which really helped my bod and stamina.)

In January I knew I had only a month and half or so before I would be consumer by long rehearsals, so I began working out four + days a week and for one hour each time. I did mixes of strength training workouts (like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Boot Camp, Jackie Warners interval training and pilates).

In March and April I hung on for dear life as I worked full time at my day job during the week and had four hour long rehearsals each night. My main exercise those weeks was walking to and from rehearsal. If all else fails, walk to your destination instead of drive-it keeps you moving and healthy! Now, I am just squeezing in whatever I can with the three days a week I do not have a show. I’ve jogged a couple of times with my husband, done some time on my elliptical (although my new elliptical is no bueno), and continued to walk as much as I can.

So really that was much more of a recap, but the basics are: I did what I could when I could and kept going no matter what and kept chnaging up what I did.


  1. motivation to move more! The sneak peeks you've given us so far made me think that you were doing super hardcore exercises all the time (your stomach is FLAT, girl!) so I'm comforted to hear that it's been a struggle -- not that I want you to struggle, but you know what I mean!

  2. Moving post. I feel like I wrote the part about your childhood because I was the same way and learning to like and enjoy exercise has been very difficult. And I used to work out to Sweating to the Oldies--it was so much fun! And like you, if only I had more money and time----I would take more classes, hike, etc.

    And least you are getting off your behind and trying out different things instead of just sitting around. Every little bit counts in my book.

  3. I belong to a fitness group and I decided when I vowed to lose weight that I would go to classes I didn't like, such as Interval Circiuit and Kickboxing. It really helps when you kick it up a notch! The inches just melt off!

  4. Oops, my comment got cut off. The beginning bit should have said, "Thank you for sharing your journey with us and you've given me..." (the motivation to move more)

  5. Thanks y'all!

    I'm glad people can relate. I think more than a little personal privacy, the main reason I like being a bit anonymous with any photos I've shown thus far is that I want to be an "Everywoman" if you will.

  6. I have nothing to say but WOW. You are such an inspiration, girlfriend :)

  7. Your advise of just moving or if you can't do anything else walk to your destination is great advise! Thank you :) I recently hoped back on the exercise wagon and I'm trying to go as often as I can. I work full time & go to school part time so you're story hits very close to home :) I'm going to try to at least go for a walk on the days I can't make it to the gym.