Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Lifetime of Fitness

A friend of mine posted a question yesterday on Face Book...What does lifetime fitness mean to you?  That question got me to thinking because I know I WANT it, but I wasn't exactly sure how to put it in words.  Being a verbal processor, I'm doing what I always do when I don't know how to answer a question...I "talk" until I figure it out!

My answer yesterday was:   
To me it's about balance. Balanced nutrition, balanced workouts (to include appropriate rest). It means not focusing on a short term goal (a specific race or losing weight for an event) means adopting fitness as a lifestyle for a lifetime.
Not a bad start...but as usual, I have more to say than would be socially acceptable in a Face Book post.

I can remember the first time I thought about fitness.  I was in the Army (Arkansas Army National Guard to be more accurate).  I was going to be going away to Basic Training for eight weeks and I had heard it would be physically grueling.  I started going to the gym with my dad.  I did sit ups using a bar (by the way--that really works your quads in can you were wondering!).  I worked out with some machines.  I may have even jogged around the indoor basketball courts (13 laps made a mile but I'm sure I lost count and never made it even that far).  The work outs where at best sporadic.

When I got to Basic, I didn't have a choice about fitness.  They say after 21 days of doing something it becomes a habit.  Well, I think that's wrong, PT (physical training) did NOT become a habit.  You know, come to think of it, maybe it would have been a habit--to go work out with a group of about 180 women with drill sergeants yelling commands of what to do next--if I had stayed in that environment.  But I didn't.  I went home.

We were required to pass a PT test (so many push ups and so many sit ups in a two minute period for each exercise and a 2 mile run in a certain amount of time).  I barely passed mine every time I had taken it, and always with someone's help.  Out of the whole time I was in the military, there was only one time during that period of my life I self-motivated.  I was running pretty much every day-trying to increase my two-mile time speed by running two miles (not the best plan, but better than nothing at all).  Then...I got married and suddenly getting out of bed wasn't as easy as it was when I was single.

Not mine, but exactly like it!
From that point until a year ago I was an on-again/off-again (mostly off again) exerciser.  I remember joining a gym after my son was born.  When he was a year old I had gotten back down to my pre-baby weight....and then I got pregnant again.  After my daughter was born, I tried to go back to the gym, but the child care there was less than sub-standard.  So, I bought a Jane Fonda video tape, complete with an aerobic step!!  When that one got old, I bought several other tapes.  Then...we moved to a much smaller house with no room to do my grapevines and step-kicks across the floor! 

So, I started walking...when it was nice outside, and when my husband could watch the kids, and when I didn't have anything else that needed to be done (read: I wanted to do it more than I did).  I had just about gotten into a good routine of walunning (walking more than running) about four times a week...then I got divorced.  It took a couple of years for life to settle back down.  I got remarried, and joined another gym.  I went regularly, until I lost the weight I wanted to lose.  After that I went sporadically.  Then...we moved.

At that point I got a very stressful job.  Just at the time I needed exercise the most, there weren't enough hours in the day for it.  I had two children, a step-son, and a job that took more time than I had.  I convince my husband we needed to buy an elliptical.  It was the cheapest, smallest (read: useless) one I could find (I think it was $175 from Sears!).  I may have used it a couple of times.  Maybe.  A few years later a friend sold us a (REALLY NICE) dreadmill.  I think the kids used it more than I did...until I went through my second divorce.

I started walunning about four miles pretty much every day (sometimes twice a day)....for about a year or so.  Then...I moved a couple of times, met my current husband (he's a keeper BTW)...and got out of the habit.  About the time I got married for the third and final time, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer.  I worked out with him for 12 weeks....and loved to hate him.  As soon as my time with him ended, I pretty much stopped going to the gym.  Then...I moved, again.  I stopped exercising with any consistency and I gained weight. 

I had gotten up to what was just about my heaviest non-pregnancy weight when I took the best job I've ever had in my life---HOMEMAKER!!  That was a year ago January...  Once again, I set a goal-to run a marathon in December of the same year.  I found a training plan, and started following it.

Little did I know that somewhere along the way (I'm not exactly sure when it happened)...exercise went from being a means to an end to being the end itself!  It's part of my life now.  Yes, I'm "always" training for a race, but that isn't why I exercise.  I do it because when I don't I feel like something is missing.  It's not a habit, it's part of my life.  It's very much like brushing my teeth.  I might go to bed with out brushing, but I don't go a whole day without it.  Even when I don't feel like it, I do it anyway because I know it's good for me and I'll feel better afterward.

When I sat down to write this I thought I hadn't really had a lifetime of fitness...but the truth is I've had a lifetime trying to figure it out.  I've wanted to have it in my life, but it usually revolved around a specific goal (mainly losing weight, or more recently running a marathon), that had an end.  As it is now, I can't imagine a time in my life that I will not be doing some form of exercise.  I love it.  I love what it does for my body, my mind, my spirit. 

It's a way of life, a way of life I love.

Thanks for stopping in!  Come again soon!

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