*NOTE: To all of you who are just joining us on this weeklong post about weight loss. You may want to scroll down to the last few posts for my before and after pictures and to get caught up on what we are covering this week.
*ALSO: I want to give a shout out to you gals who made your way to this site by linking from the interview with me atwww.firstimpressionsbaby.com. Welcome!!!! Feel free to peek around and leave a comment.
I have to be honest with you. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I hate to run. I hate to sweat. I hate to exert force to lift weights. I can’t stand spandex and I absolutely loathe the atmosphere and the smell of gyms. I know, I know…it sounds as if I have a hate-hate relationship with exercise. So let me tell you the ONLY thing I love about exercise.
The way I feel when I am done.
I feel clear-headed. I feel younger. I feel as if I can meet life’s challenges with renewed energy. And I feel totally tired, yet strangely refreshed.
But, I still start off hating it EVERY DAY!!!!!!!
When I first began my weight loss journey, I was in such dire shape that I could hardly walk a city block. My knee harbored constant pain from a torn meniscus. Just bending and straightening it made tears well up in my eyes. I remember crying at night and praying to God, begging Him to take away my pain. I also had a bad case of bursitis in my opposite heel that was also agonizing. I promised God that if He’d just make the pain go away, I would start to exercise and lose my excess weight.
Alas, the persistent pain remained. And it was all my fault. My mother-in-love often tells her kids and grandkids “You are the sum of your choices” a quote from someone famous in the past. Whom, I’m not exactly sure. Well, it was true for me. The sum of my choices added up to one big overweight and out-of-shape mommy mess.
Medical tests and MRI’s showed that my torn meniscus was not healing on its own. And the doctors said it would probably never heal as long as I sported too much weight on my small frame. (I am 5 foot 5, have a small frame with tiny wrists and a size 4 wedding band and yet I weighed nearly 250 pounds!!!!) My doctor isn’t quick to pop a pill for every ailment, but he saw no other way out of my severe discomfort as long as I remained obese. So I was prescribed pain meds for my knee. I took the script home, but didn’t fill it. I didn’t want a pill to mask my pain and prevent me from getting to the root of my issue.
So I had no choice. I had to start to lose weight and attempt to exercise while in pain. Our local hospital has a rehab center (where I was going for physical therapy on my knee) that is clean, professional and full of great equipment. It does not at all have an atmosphere of a regular gym with raunchy music, scantily-clad co-eds and mid-life crisis-ers trying to pick each other up (yuck!!) It is a place where sweet senior citizens try to recover from a stoke or regular folks attempt to rehabilitate after an injury. I found out that this rehab center also sold year memberships—at a very low cost—to the public.(And, they have flat screen TVs on the treadmills and ellipticals. That is a plus to this live-in-the-country-with-only-bunny-ears-on-my-non-cable-TV-gal. I could exercise AND watch FOX news channel. Yippee!!)
So, I signed on the dotted line. I got my doctor’s permission. (Required by the rehab center since I was so obese. That was embarrassing) I donned a pair of BIG sweats (the ones Pat Robertson held up during my 700 Club interview) and hopped….er….um…carefully climbed on the elliptical machine. I began to operate it at a steady pace and went as long as my little heart could stand it. When the sweat beaded up on my brow and I thought my heart would surely pound out of my chest, I stopped. I looked down at the timer on the elliptical.
I had exercised a full 2 ½ mintues.
Ugh!!!! I wanted to quit. I wanted to cry. I wanted to eat an entire bag of Chips Ahoy Coconut Cookies. I knew I was too far gone; destined to be forever fat.
But people, in my mind I saw the sweet faces of my children and the concerned eyes of my wonderful, loving and accepting husband. (He never once made a crack, let alone a comment, about my weight. He tells me now that he was concerned for my health, but he never made me feel unattractive. He is a gem!!!) As I thought of them, I knew I didn’t want to leave this earth due to my choices and render them motherless.
So I kept going. I strolled over to the treadmill. I slowly walked on it until my knee hurt so badly I wanted to cry.
Yep. You guessed it. I only lasted 4 minutes. At a pace of about 2 miles an hour. That means it would have taken me a half hour to walk a mile. Not exactly record breaking speed.
Tuckered out and tired, I decided to stop the aerobics and switch to weight training. I sloppily used a machine or two, trying to appear that I knew what I was doing. I did not. One of the sweet workers at the center showed me how to properly use two machines; one that worked your arms (gotta get rid of that teacher flab—you know, the stuff that jiggles on your upper arms when you write on a chalkboard) and one that worked your legs. I used those machines for about 5 minutes each.
Then, my workout was over. In a grand total of about 18 minutes.
Not a workout to write home about. But it was a start. And, I felt I had passed a HUGE hurdle when it was over.
After that first day, I continued to go to the workout center as often as I could fit it in. Sometimes I went 6 times a week. Sometimes I went 3. Always I tried to do one of two things:
Go further than the day before: (meaning, if I had gone for 15 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 miles an hour, the next day I went for 16 minutes, covering a longer distance.)
Or, go faster than the day before: (meaning, if I had gone for 15 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 miles per hour, the next day I went for 15 minutes again, but at 2.6 miles per hour.)
Baby steps. But they added up. After losing the weight (106 pounds) in those 10 ½ months, I had worked up to walking 2 to 2 ½ miles at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour. (At that pace, I was now covering a mile in just over 17 minutes, not a half hour like when I first began. God had allowed me to cut my time nearly in half!)
Then one day, several months into my maintenance, He told me to run.
What!?!?! I had never, I mean NEVER run an entire mile in my life. Once, we had to run a mile for time in my personal fitness class in college. My friend Kari and I trotted for two of the quarter mile laps and walked for the rest; completely out of breath; feeling like I was going to up-chuck; weary and nearly fainting. That was when I was 20. I was now 43. How on earth could I run? It was more than I dared to hope for.
But God whispered to me. “Karen, today is the day. Just run. Remember the verse on that plaque in your high school youth pastor’s office? ”
“..but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
So that day last spring, when I got on the treadmill, I cranked the speed up to what was running for me. It was a pace of 3.7 miles per hour. (covering a mile in 16.21 minutes—again, not exactly break-neck speed!!) I told myself I would run ‘til I couldn’t run anymore and then I’d crank it back down to a fast walking speed.
To my amazement the readout showed that I’d made it ¼ mile. I began to get a little winded.
Then it read ½ mile. I was huffing by then. But I kept going.
I couldn’t believe it when I passed ¾ mile. This was further than I’d run in college.
Then, it happened.
Breathing hard, but not faint. The digital readout flashed the wonderful news “1.00 miles covered.”
I instantly began to cry.
Sure, people stared. Some thought I was upset about something. No one there would have guessed they were tears of joy. Okay, so the rehab center director did get the picture when later I told her what happened. She congratulated me like I’d just won the Boston Marathon!! Then, she threw me for a loop. She said, “Let me know when you reach the two mile mark!”
What? Come on lady. You’re talking nonsense! Someone must have slipped something in your water bottle! I could NEVER run two miles. I wasn’t even sure I’d ever be able to do a mile again.
But God had other plans. I continued my “go further or faster” routine. Long story short. I can now run 2 to 2 ½ miles at a time at a pace of 4.5 miles per hour. That means I now cover a mile in just over 13 minutes!!!!! And I try to do it 3-4 times a week.
Please, I DO NOT tell you any of this to boast!!! I tell it to offer you hope. If God can take this former couch potato (and potato chip popper) and transform her into a wanna-be-middle-aged-trotter who can now run non-stop for over a half hour, He can do it for you too! My goal now is to work up to running a 5K (3.1 miles) and run it in honor of my sister-in-love who is a breast cancer survivor.
In addition to running (or sometimes going on the elliptical for a half hour) I also do weight training about 4 days a week for 20-30 minutes. I have learned so much about muscle burning more calories at rest than fat does and the importance of weight bearing exercise in the prevention of osteoporosis. And I know from experience that when I am at a flabby weight or at the same weight yet toned, I am a smaller size, although the scale reads the same! In fact, once I lost the 106 pounds, I began to add weight training at a more serious level. Last summer I dropped one more pants size although the scale virtually stayed the same.
And please, if finances are an issue…know this, I also run on my road and I bought a set of free weights (3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 pounds) at a yard sale for 10 bucks. Often I exercise and run without it costing me a cent. If I don’t need to go to town or don’t have time, I do it the old fashioned way! I could do it only this way if I can’t afford a membership at the rehab center.
Finally, if you get nothing else out of this long winded post, get this:
Do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. It matters. The next day, do the same thing, or do a little more. If you do not give up and add time or distance or weights a little at a time, you too can learn to have a love/hate relationship with exercise. In fact, I will admit to you that you could even say that I am now addicted to my daily workout.
And I never thought it was possible to be addicted to anything other than chocolate, chips, cheese and ice cream.
Glory to God!!!!
Sweet sweating and weight-swinging blessings,
*Now your turn…How do you work exercise into your busy day? Or what excuses do you have for not moving more? What do you think would be some baby step goals for you when it comes to exercise? Leave us a comment on any of these topics or something else that has to do with exercise.