Monday, May 7, 2012
Walk a Mile in my Cleats
You can’t pick up a women’s magazine without seeing an article about weight loss or exercise. Eat less, exercise more and you’ll lose inches, feel better, live longer blah, blah, blah. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know this? We can hope for a magic fat-eating capsule and certainly the fitness and weight loss industries are making billions of dollars hoping we’ll pin our hope on their latest products, but the bottom line is there is no easy solution. Losing weight takes work. Before I hit middle age I never had a weight problem. I didn’t eat much, I kept reasonably active and I probably inherited decent genetics from my folks. Of course it may not have been genetics. My mom was wafer thin, but she lived on cigarettes and coffee. Not a diet I’d recommend. She remained thin her entire life, but it cut years off her life as well. I have not followed in mom's footsteps. I never liked cigarettes, so I had that going for me. Unfortunately at middle age I decided I enjoyed food, ate more AND exercised less. Guess what? I gained weight. This is not rocket science. It’s the simple truth. Bummer. On the other hand, my spouse, CB, is a fitness fantatic. There’s not a hill that does not beckon CB’s jogging shoes or mountain bike. My spousal unit loves to exercise. I wish I shared that enthusiasm. I USED to enjoy working up a sweat, feel the burn of my muscles straining. Boy those days are gone. I want to have a long, healthy life, so I make some effort to get my heart rate up. I would walk up the hill in our housing development, occasionally lifts some weights and do a few sit ups, but even I know this was a weak attempt at fitness. When we lived in Arizona my handy excuse for avoiding exercise was the heat. We have three cold days a year in Arizona, so this excuse worked pretty well. Or so I thought. It didn’t help me squeeze into a smaller size of clothes or improve my fitness, it was simply an excuse that made sense. It IS hot there most of the year. Of course there are indoor options too, but let's not pick my excuse apart so easily. Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe it gets hot here, but I doubt it. My tried and true reasoning has evaporated into the balmy atmosphere. Of course I could use the excuse that it is too cold, or it’s raining (which is usually is) but it’s not as if I don’t own a raincoat and umbrella. My excuses were no longer serving me so I’ve decided it was time to turn over a new leaf. Some of this was forced on me as my car still lives in Arizona. That means I have to hoof it to most of my destinations. After a little initial grumbling, I have come to enjoy walking again. I see beautiful flowers, blooming bushes and verdant lawns. Of course I can’t make myself just walk for the sake of walking. I like to have a destination. So I amble to the store and I trot off to the post office. A part of me does this begrudgingly. I may have co-authored a self-help book on erasing negativity, but that does not mean I don’t battle my own internal grouch. I’ve just decided I will wage war on her every day – and win. Part of my strategy was to join a softball team. I found a team that would not only take me, but actually wanted me. At first several practices were cancelled due to a soggy field. But alas today was bright and sunny. The problem is the field is 1.9 miles away. There aren’t too many places I’m willing to walk more than a mile to visit, but the softball field is one of them. I packed my cleats and glove, stuck them in a back pack and marched off to practice. When I have a glove or bat in my hand I have more incentive to move my body. I’m more motivated when I’m trying to catch a fly ball, field a grounder, smack a ball out of the infield or run to first base. It’s not drudgery. It’s a joy. After practice I took off my cleats and made the trek home. I was tired, but happy. Losing weight, exercising and reducing negativity takes work. I wish I could promise an effortless solution, but there isn’t one. However, whether you work at becoming happy, or work AT something (like softball) because it makes YOU happy, something magical happens. What once felt like work is now fun. Whether it’s playing softball, dancing to zumba, kayaking or simply taking the dog for a walk, the trick to health and happiness is to find something you enjoy doing, stick with it and slowly extend the amount of time and effort you put into your joyful endeavor. If you can’t find anything that engages your soul, pick the least objectionable task you can think of and see if you can squeeze a little happiness out of it. The next day do it again and squeeze the task a little longer. Before you know it you will have squeezed your proverbial lemon into lemonade. For you pessimists or exercise grouches haters out there, I feel your pain. But I promise you if you get out there and make an effort, you will feel better. You would know if you walked a mile in my cleats.