I have had a love for water since I was in the womb. One of my favorite pictures of me as a baby was taken when I was about 3 months old with my mom and dad in my grandparent's hot tub (never mind the "you aren't supposed to take your baby in the hot tub" rule - I was loving it!) I'm wearing just a diaper and a plastic diaper cover with the words "Tax Exemption" written across my cute baby bottom. I was born in December - so naturally my parents were thankful that they got the 'Baby Bonus' for the entire year.
I started swimming lessons early and advanced quickly. Being in the water just felt so second nature to me. I grew up close to a lake and we boated and went waterskiing almost every weekend in the summer. Even though I am a self-confessed city girl now, I still can't be far from water and so venture down to the lake shore whenever I get a chance. Something about Mother Nature's bathtub just makes me feel...right. And there is NOTHING like the smell of lake water to arouse my senses and happy memories.
When my nutritionist started pushing the "exercise" concept, a few months before I joined SparkPeople, I was stuck. I HATE exercise. But I knew that I was going to have to cave on my exercise strike eventually if I was ever going to make any movement in the weight department. So we started talking about some of these precious memories from my childhood. She pointed out that my stories about water and water sports but a smile on my face and pushed me to investigate that a little further. OF COURSE! Why hadn't I thought of it on my own? If I was going to be comfortable exercising, then I had to find something that I was comfortable doing and that made me feel good even before I did it.
So I started researching pools in my area. I wasn't coming up with much until I rediscovered the beauty of city parks and rec programs - you can do a TON of things for really cheap or even free in a lot of cases and it doesn't pack the punch to the gut of joining a gym. Double bonus! I found a pool really close to a neighbourhood I used to live in and loved, AND discovered that I could hop on a bus from work and it would drop me at the door of the rec center and then hop another bus which would take me directly home when I was done. The plan was in motion. I dragged my old, ratty swim suit and beach towel out of the closet and made plans to swim that week!
Fast-forward a few months and I swim on a weekly basis now. I have upped my laps consistently so I am swimming with almost no breaks for 45 minutes at a time. I bought myself a sweet new suit, cap and goggles so I look, and feel, like a pro. Rockstar! This weekly ritual has grown on me so much that I start getting excited about Wednesday nights on Tuesday. My doc says that this happens a lot with runners and other ritualistic exercisers. The endorphins that you get from the exercise start to kick in earlier and earlier as you continue to do it. The high you feel AFTER exercising creeps forward to when your toes hit the water, then to when you suit up, then to when you walk in the door and smell the chlorine, etc. etc. so by this point I'm really looking forward to that day every week. Not to mention the other benefits of swimming - it really helps for people who have low mobility (I can swim like a fish, but walking can still be painful for me), the chlorine content and the warm water temps help reduce swelling and joint pain, and for the lovely time of the month aches, the chlorine actually draws water away from the body through reverse osmosis (ah, highschool science class) and takes down that dreaded water-weight gain.
So TOTAL BUMMER when I walked in this past Wednesday and there's a big sign on the door "POOL WILL BE CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE MAY 3-7." Boo Hiss. Now what? My immediate thought was - I'm going to have to skip swimming for the week. Maybe I can use the off-night to see a show or something. But then when I thought about how crappy that made me feel and how disappointed I was at the thought of missing a week, I thought WWSPD (What Would SparkPeople Do?) and it became clear. I can't let myself down like that. If swimming is what I like - swimming is what I have to do! So, I'll just have to find another pool for next week and, as Tim Gunn says - make it work. Scheduling be damned - swimming will happen.
Eventually I hope to find other exercises that "work" like this for me. Though I walk, walking is still a chore and I don't look forward to it every week like swimming. Since running seems to have a high-endorphin kick back, maybe I'll try that some day soon. It would be nice to try the C25K group that everyone raves about. But for now, I've got my thing - and my thing involves a really cute swim cap!