Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exercise is not optional

At least once a week someone will ask me what motivates me to exercise. They want to know my secret. When I tell them I like how it makes me feel, or I want to live longer and be healthier, keep my weight down, wear cute clothes, they nod in agreement, but I can tell they don't really get it. They still want to know how I do it.

I wish I did have a secret to share with people, that would motivate them to exercise. There just isn't any secret, but there are a few things I can share that might help.

When I weighed 240 pounds it hurt a lot to exercise. I would feel a pain in my chest, my asthma would flare up and I could barely breathe, my feet would ache and hurt, even on the elliptical machine. It was pure and utter torture. In the beginning I would only do cardio for 30 minutes, four days a week. Every day I thought I was going to die. Every day, I wanted to die.

As much as I hated it in the beginning, I knew not exercising wasn't an option for me. I was 53 at the time (19 months ago) and knew the importance of exercise for someone my age. I didn't want to be one of those frail, old ladies that can barely walk. That's not for me.

I kept telling myself that working out was just something I had to do every day, like brushing and flossing my teeth, I have to work my body.

As the weight started coming off, it got a little bit easier, but not a lot. When I had lost forty pounds and added in some weight training I could actually work out for an hour. It still kind of hurt, especially my left foot. I don't know what was wrong with it, but it hurt like the devil. My foot doesn't hurt at all now and my asthma has dissappeared.

When I got down to 180 pounds I hired a personal trainer. This was the thing that really got me hooked on strength training and doing interval cardio. She showed me several stength exercises and how to maintain proper form. She also had me workout on every piece of equipment in the gym. Having a personal trainer was the smartest and best thing I've ever done for myself. I should have done it sooner.

A couple tips on hiring a personal trainer. First of all, don't just walk into your gym and say you want to hire a trainer and slap down $110 an hour for ten sessions. Yes, they really wanted $1,100 from me and that was for the "cheap" trainer. Crazy! I almost did it, but after watching the trainers at my gym standing around with their clients with bored looks on their faces, I thought no way was I going to pay someone to do that.

I was lucky because I got to know my aerobics instructor at the YMCA I was going to at the time (I had two gym memberships for about a year). She was an amazing aerobics teacher. I totally loved her enthusiasm. She had a great personality, was funny and put together really fun workouts with great music. When I found out she also did personal training I hired her immediately. Through the YMCA the sessions were only $30. Ten sessions for $300. The deal of a lifetime.

Search around to find someone you like. Before you hire the person, interview them, watch them on the job, training someone. Do they act like they care or do they act like they'd really rather be somewhere else? I can't imagine anything worse than working out with a trainer that doesn't have a sincere interest in helping you.

I really think exercise is the key to this whole thing of losing weight and keeping it off. Even though my eating hasn't been perfect, and I still have weight to lose, I've been in the same 10-pound range for nine months. Probably the longest I've ever kept off a significant amount of weight.

So if you're struggling with the idea of exercise, all I can say is yes, it's hard, it hurts, it's not fun in the beginning. Actually it was a little piece of hell on earth, but after a few months it gets easier. You just have to do it, it's not optional.


Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Diane. Thanks for the great advice here. I think your attitude is really inspiring. And congrats on maintaining your loss for 10 months. It's true that if you keep exercising then the occasional splurge on the eating front doesn't do so much harm.

Hope you are having a good week.

Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

big_mummy said...

i lack the motivation, shit gets in the way and i really hate that. Last night i was doing homework and i just sighed and said out loud, "i really need to exercise" but do you think i did??? pah. I need to kick ass and set me some goals and stick to them or something

Ron said...

I have always lacked motivation to exercise, however today was day 4 in a row that I have hit the treadmill for a 3 mile 45 minute uphill walk!

SunflowerDaisies said...

I have exercised off and on for several years now, but have been pretty consistent at it the last few months. I have a love/hate relationship with it, but it goes with having to get up early in the morning to do it, not necessarily the exercise itself! LOL I have been trying to become a runner, and I think that has been a motivating factor for me. Though, the last few days it's been a struggle for me, b/c I hurt my back! It's amazing how hard it is to get back into it just by missing 3 days!

Helen said...

Most days I never like how I feel when I start but l-o-v-e how I feel when I'm finished. When I don't want to exercise, I try to remember that.

Ida said...

Great post. I wish there was a personal trainer around here to hire. One of the drawbacks of living in small town America. There are a lot ot things missing.

Lia said...

I like this post a lot, especially the description about the people who ask and nod, but don't really get it. I've experienced that too. It is about a passion, a desire to exceed a standard that so many people accept. Nicely done.

Louisa said...

Nobody enjoys exercise to begin with but a routine really helps. If you know that Monday is the day that you go swimming and Thursday you go for a long walk you'll be less likely to make other plans.

You are very right though, you HAVE to exercise if you want an amazing body! Well done with your weight loss, your after picture is a huge difference and you look great. Don't worry about not being a size 7, dieting is meant to improve your life, not make you skinny and miserable.