Friday, September 06, 2013
I just finished a 28-minute walk around my neighborhood. I usually walk my dog for 10 - 15 minutes a day, but today I felt that I need to start upping my exercise a bit, so after our regular walk, I dropped Carmella off at home and continued on my own. As I was walking, I became very conscious of how heavily my gym shoes hit the pavement and how sluggish I felt. Truth be told, I was plodding along in much the same way an elephant walks. No wonder! Carrying around an extra 100 pounds is like dropping 10 - ten pound bags of potatoes on the cement with every step! For the first time in 2 decades, I became aware of how my extra weight has affected my ability to move in a very real way.
I didn't stop exercising intentionally or suddenly. I just gradually stopped moving. What happened? I thought back to my previous decades.
Preschool years: My grandfather called me "The Melrose Tornado" because I moved so fast in my baby walker. Somersaults, running to look at the cows with my little brother, and riding my "Big Wheels" down the hill kept me busy. I also discovered my passion...swimming!
Elementary School: Gymnastics! Constant gymnastics! I was convinced I was going to be the next Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci! I was the kickball champion of our neighborhood, swam all summer,played tag with friends, and rode my bike endlessly. When my friends were busy, I entertained myself by climbing trees, making up cheerleading moves, or playing tennis against the garage door. In the winter I was always outside ice skating or sledding.
Teenage Years: Summers were full of swimming, because I was a lifeguard at our community pool. I was proud to be able to swim 25 laps without stopping. I also played racquetball and tennis, and rode my bike during the summer. During the school year, though, I didn't exercise outside of gym class (which I hated because it focused on team sports and calisthenics). I made a critical decision not to try out for the volleyball team and to pursue drama and the speech team instead. At this point my brothers became known as the athletes of the family, while I sat in the bleachers cheering them on. I was starting to lose an important part of my identity, and I didn't even realize it.
College Years: During the summer months I took a retail job and only swam after work, and more for pleasure than exercise. I would walk a few times a week up the high hill near my grandmother's house in NH, and even climbed a Colorado mountain with church friends. During the school year, my only exercise came from dancing at college parties. I wanted to try out for crew...but didn't.
After College / Twenties: Working full-time, commuting more than an hour each way, and learning to live on my own crimped my exercise time. I did play volleyball weekly with a church group, which I absolutely loved. Work friends and I went camping, hiking, and biking a couple of times, but nothing consistent.
Thirties: I was married with two small children. My only exercise was chasing after them! My husband didn't like being outside, and we never even went dancing. I gained 5-10 lbs. a year.
Forties: A bitter divorce left me financially bankrupt in a new town with two children. I returned to school and spent my time as a single parent juggling school events, doctors' appointments, studying, and working. I didn't exercise at all, and continued to gain weight.
Fifties: What will this decade bring? I am committed to rediscovering the hidden athlete inside me! While I may never be able to do front handsprings or backbends again, there is no reason why I can't ride my bike, dance, swim, ice skate, play volleyball, or play racquetball and tennis! I really MISS doing those things! I will do them again. I will climb another mountain. And I will not only swim 25 laps, but I will swim twenty-six. This I promise to myself.