A few weeks ago I came to the realization that I have incrementally allowed myself to get into poor physical shape. Let me clarify my position, because there are so many ideas of what it means to be in poor physical shape. I don’t mean over-weight, because, although I am also over-weight, I believe that you can be healthy, in good physical shape and still be over-weight. There is research to support this claim, though there is debate about it.* By poor physical shape I mean: inflexible, unable to move freely while climbing a playground structure with my children, becoming winded from jogging up one flight of stairs, stiff and slow riding a bicycle and generally unenthusiastic about physical exertion.
I’ve never been an active person. I never played or willingly participated in any types of sports. I walk, but not regularly for fitness, or even as frequently as I could for practical purposes, like errands. I’ve made attempts over the years to engage in physical activity to lose weight and, like most Americans, stopped after a brief, intense effort. This year, I have felt a shift in both my realization that I am not fit and the desire to do something about it. I have watched my husband, my two younger daughters, and my toddler son ** go on weekly bike rides and rejected their repeated requests that I join them. Mostly this was because I was uncomfortable with the idea of riding a bike on the street, in close proximity to vehicles, which still does bother me, but not nearly as much as I had imagined it would. After riding a few times realized that more than the worry that was associated with riding a bike, was the fact that bodies at rest want to stay at rest and also, I am stubborn and don’t like change.
So, why now? I think the beginning of the year is a good time to start anew; it’s like a place-marker, an easy way to remember when you started something. I’m not generally a New Year’s resolution type of person, though I have made a couple of resolutions over the years. I only decide to make a change in the New Year when it is something that is meaningful and important to me, like the year (1997) that I decided I really needed to learn how to cook, since my husband and I had a new baby, a large dining-out bill and wanted to eat healthier. I jumped in, started learning to cook and never looked back. This year, shaping up needs to be a similar experience for me.
I am not overly concerned about losing weight. Losing some weight would be a great plus, but my primary goal is to feel good moving and living in my body, which is going to rely on increasing my activity since I already eat a very healthy diet and get an adequate amount of sleep. The more I move, the easier it is to move more, which is counter-intuitive to me, but that’s apparently how it works. I am going to start small. For now, I will ride bikes with my family at least once per week (weather permitting, which it frequently does, even in December and January in Oregon); commit to doing yoga in my living room three times per week and walk on more errands. I want my joints to be strong going up and down the stairs; I want to be able to ride all the way up the hill at Joe Dancer Park without stopping; I want to run around the playground with my kids and easily maneuver down the slides with them; I want to be more flexible and strong
This is year I will make permanent changes. Being 35, I can see that it will probably get harder every year that I put it off. In the past, I have focused on exercise as a means to lose weight and not as a way to enhance my life, and because I’m okay being over-weight, since I know I’m loved no matter what I look like and I’m generally comfortable being who I am, I don’t think I had the motivation to follow through. In 2013, I will become a better, healthier me.
**My toddler son tags along in his front-mounted bike carrier. First, we had a Bobike Mini, which got stolen along with my husband’s bike and we replaced it with a Yepp Mini, which we like even more than the Bobike.