We all know it. Most of us hate it. A lot of of us avoid it. The truth of the matter is that exercise is essential. A 2008 survey showed that over half of Americans survey participated in some beneficial exercise three days a week. I can’t dispute the survey which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, but I wonder why, if over half of Americans are meeting the exercise guidelines as set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sixty-six percent of Americans are medically overweight and two-thirds of us are classified as obese?
I’ll be honest with you. When I was overweight, feeling bad about myself and tired all the time, the last thing I wanted to do was exercise. The thought of exerting myself beyond my daily life activities was not appealing to me at all. I had no desire to exercise, after all, fat people don’t exercise. Even when I was dieting, which was about 90% of the time, exercise never crossed my mind. I mean, I knew that exercise was important. If the Centers for Disease Control had called me up and asked for my opinions on exercise I would have been happy to share with them. I would have said exercise was very important. I would have been able to tell them how long a person should exercise to achieve maximum benefits. I would have been able to reel off a list of fabulous exercise ideas. But for me there was a serious disconnect between what I knew and what I was doing.
You see, I was sitting around. I was eating a lot. I was complaining about my energy level. But what I wasn’t doing was making any real progress towards succeeding at solving any of those problems. I don’t think that I exercised one time during the first 10 years of our marriage, other than exercising my right to overeat. John and I were bad for each other. Neither of us encouraged the other to exercise and unfortunately for me, I gained over 100 pounds during that period of time. And like any cause and effect the bigger I got the less energy I had.
One myth that I believed was that if you exercise it will make you tired. I honestly thought that since I was so tired just watching my children play, preparing meals, running errands, etc. that there was no way I could fit exercise into my life. I wish that I had tried, because I know now that exercise doesn’t make you tired. Exercise gives you more energy. And once I started walking every day I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. At first the benefits were mostly psychological, as I really hadn’t physically become stronger in two days. But it wasn’t long before I did start feeling stronger. And it wasn’t long before I could walk farther and walk faster than I ever would have dreamed possible.
At first it was embarassing to plod down the road. I often wondered what people thought of the fat girl walking down the road, waddling from side to side. But after a short period of time I didn’t even think of what people thought anymore. I only thought about what all I would be able to do once I got in shape. I dreamed of running, of riding bikes with my family, of not waking up exhausted. I guess when I thought about it, I visualized what my life would be like when I was fit. And it worked. The exercise worked, the eating healthy foods worked and before long I was in the best shape of my life.
Exercise builds on itself, and the more you do, the better you get at it. I would not have believed that I could complete a 5K race, but I did – albeit slowly. I was so proud that day, and my husband and children were there to see me cross the finish line. I hope for you that you will try exercise this week. Don’t just sit on the sidelines hoping things will get better. Get off the sidelines and into the race!