For many of us when we embarked on this journey we succumbed to the notion that the best and quickest way to lose the weight was to participate in whatever exercise we needed in order to get the weight off as quickly as possible. It didn’t matter if it was an activity we enjoyed, it was just like taking medicine—you may not like it, but you knew you would get some benefit along the way. Therefore, like the Nike ad suggest we all need to JUST DO IT!
When people ask me how I got into running I tell them that it evolved over time. In fact running actually was an activity I always wanted to participate in, but I just never had the courage to do so until well after the first year of my journey. Before I even considered running I had to get my heart, lungs, and body adapted to exercise period.
So like many of you, I started out with small pockets of exercise. Doing more than ten minutes on the elliptical was about all I could physically manage. I was so unfit that my body just could not handle much more then this. Over time, however, I was able to go a little longer each week and not feel as though I was going to collapse after every session. Within 9 months, the challenge of working out came to a standstill. I was no longer seeing the results on the scale. I had hit the dreaded plateau.
What I have concluded is that if you do not continually challenge the body to work as hard today as the day you started your journey, your body will adapt to the exercise. That is what the body wants and desires--a state of homeostasis or balance. Therefore, your body will not require the same number of calories for the task at hand that you needed when you first started exercising. This is not a bad thing, unless you look at exercise as punishment and not something you enjoy.
Consequently, I turned to running. While I was not a runner from the onset, I did start with walking and slowly added in more and more minutes of running over a period of time. Within 3 months, I ran my first race on March 25, 2006, over 13 months after I started this journey. Since that time I have participated in well over 60 races and last Saturday I took the plunge to run the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 11, 2009.
Finding a passion is what allows many of us to stay on this journey, whether that passion is running, walking, ice skating, or even strength training. When we develop a passion for the exercise that we do, many of us will be more determined to find ways to fit these activities into our schedule. Not only does exercise help keep our hearts strong, our bodies strong, but it also increases the serotonin in our brains to help us think better and feel better about who we are. And I think it helps us all build more confidence to take on tasks we never imagined ourselves doing before we started this journey.
What is your passion? Do you have an exercise goal in your future? What are you doing today that you never saw yourself doing before this journey?
Photo of Nancy running in her first 5K of the Fall 2008 running season.
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