There's one thing I'm really good at
However, in spite of all the things I don't do right, there's one thing I excel at doing when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and that's exercise.
I'm fifty-five years old and throughout my life I've had phases of exercise craziness. I would pick some exercise, such as high-impact aerobics, in my twenties when all my girlfriends were doing it. Or running because I thought that was what all the cool people did and it burned the most calories. Or or weight lifting when I worked at the police department with all the buff police officers and the department had it's own gym. Or whatever exercise struck my fancy, and I'd go full throttle with it.
My problem was that I would only do it for a few weeks or maybe a few months, then I'd completely stop, cold turkey. My reasoning was simple. It hurt. Who wants to do something that hurts? I personally don't like pain and have a rather low threshold for it.
On February 12, 2008 I started Weight Watchers. At the same time I started going to my gym four times a week. I had been a member since 1996 and had rarely used my membership. After about six months I started going five to six times a week. Now I ofte go for fourteen stretches without a day off. Although recently I'm trying to cut back to taking at least one off day a week.
What happened to change me? How did I go from hating to exercise to not hating it so much to almost liking it? How did I go from a couch potato to working out six days a week, 60 to 90 -minute workouts each day?
What happened to snap me out of my inactive lifestyle is something I've written about before. You can read about it here. Basically, I felt like hell at 240 pounds. I thought I might be dying, and I might have died if I didn't do something about my physical condition. Since I really didn't want to die yet, I had to start exercising and lose weight. Let's see...death or exercise? Or perhaps a wheelchair or exercise? It was a pretty easy decision.
How I started
When I started exercising February 12, 2008 at 240 pounds, it was HORRIBLE. I'm talking real pain. I was miserable even just walking on the treadmill. I quickly gave up the treadmill and went to the elliptical. It was still hard, but I could set my own pace without being totally embarrassed. That was my big fear, being embarrassed at the gym. That's so stupid because really, no one gives a damn what you do at the gym. I barely even look at anyone else, because I'm totally focused on myself.
When I absolutely hated going to the gym
For the first two years I had a "five-minute rule". I decided right at the beginning that I would exercise in the morning. I knew if I tried to work out at night I'd find any excuse in the book to miss a workout. So I started getting up at 4:45 a.m. and was at the gym by 5:15 a.m. There were many mornings when I really thought I'd just rather die than go to the gym. The problem was that I probably would die if I didn't exercise. I decided to start my "five-minute rule".
It's really simple, when I would wake up and think "I'm exhausted, I don't want to get up and go to the gym. I don't want to exercise and feel pain! I hate this!", this is what I would tell myself:
"Diana, get up, get dressed. Get in the car. Drive to the gym. Go inside. Get on any piece of equipment you want. Exercise five minutes. If you're so miserable you can't stand it, you have permission to go home. Stop thinking about it and just do it."
Just knowing I could go home if I wanted to, took away a lot of the pressure. I had an out if I needed it. In three years I've only left the gym one time after five minutes. I had bronchitis and really had no business exercising.
The funny thing is that I haven't even thought about my five-minute rule for months. Now I just tell myself to stop thinking about it and go. I rarely give it much thought. I just do it. After three years, it's become a part of my life. I can't imagine ever stopping.
I have more tips for getting into an exercise frame of mind, but it's almost 9:30 p.m. 5:15 a.m. comes really early so I have to go to bed now. More about exercise tomorrow.