Today’s post gives real-life-experience insight into the why of staying physically active. Hint: It’s not about burning calories or the size of our thighs. Think “fun” instead. Thanks to Jennifer Joyce, staff participant at Green Mountain, for sharing her thoughts.
One of the things the staff here at Green Mountain consistently impress upon us is that unless you find movement and food you enjoy that also support your fitness and health you cannot be successful in managing your health for the long term. No one can continue things they hate or feel are punitive.
I think many of us think “yeah, right” when thinking that we will ever enjoy our workouts. I assume that exercise will always feel like a ‘to do’ associated with the requisite guilt when it doesn’t get done.
At a family weekend several weekends ago, I greeted the family hike with a bundle of nerves. Theoretically, hiking is a hobby of mine. I mean, I used to hike a lot 15 years ago. I also list it on Facebook and other profiles about me. I like being out in nature and the summer sun. But over recent years, I have come to dread hikes. While each summer I have plans to “hike more this summer,” anytime it actually happens I get a lot of nerves and am relieved if there is a way out. And so therefore it hasn’t happened in 8 years!
There was no way getting out of this hike, though, especially since I had been in Vermont for a few weeks. So, off we went. It started out quite steep and I took a deep breath, telling myself that it couldn’t be worse than the Appalachian Mountain Trail hike we do here at Green Mountain’s healthy weight loss program in the third and fourth weeks. I made it to the top of the first section, breathing hard, but not spent. My marathon-running brother-in-law and sister were ahead of me, but I beat out other family members (who shall remain nameless). The hike overall was about 4.2 miles and I felt good the whole way. I enjoyed the view over the Shepaug River Valley, picking pine cones for my mom’s art project, and jumping on the suspension bridge. At the end as we splashed around in the Shepaug River, I had an ‘aha’ moment. THIS is what we do it for. This is the enjoyable exercise.
When I arrived at Green Mountain, if I had encountered this situation, I probably would have volunteered to stay back with the toddler nephews to babysit. Or if I had gone, I wouldn’t have been splashing around in the river because I would have desperately needed to sit down in the car. The next day I would have been so sore I would have passed on walking to the farmers market. Being at Green Mountain had given me the jump start I needed to get to the point where rolling hills hikes felt good. And it felt good enough that I could notice the nature and good company around me that makes hiking fun. Hiking while you can’t breathe and every muscle aches actually isn’t fun. It wouldn’t be for anyone.
I have noticed a lot of other things have become easier. Like walking a golf course. Or going biking with my nephew on a rail to trail. Walking to the store. These are all exercise and they are all things I enjoy now that I have focused on my fitness. My hope is that as I continue with these, new things I never thought I could do will become enjoyable too. I have a feeling it’s not going to be the elliptical machine. But maybe a Zumba class!
What fun things are you missing out on? Finding an amazing waterfall in a state park? Playing with your children or grandchildren on the floor? Biking with family & friends ? Playing tennis with your spouse, son, or daughter? Dancing with friends? Playing catch with your dog?