February 16, 2016

Squeezing It In

If I were to enumerate here the number of things I must/ I tell myself I must get done in a day, there would be no novelty in it. I am like you, and you are like me. But conversations about what we choose, and how we manage those choices are important to have. Often, I think, we feel alone in our struggles to accept our needs, or, conversely, to accept that we just plain don't need the same things all the other ______(moms, women, neighbors, coworkers, friends, people in our family- you choose) do.

Specifically, today's topic of need: exercise.  (Cue eye-rolls. Are we done? Okay.) Some of us feel this need only physically, some emotionally or mentally, some not at all. I feel the need for consistent exercise physically, emotionally and mentally. When I don't get it, I feel weak. Feeling weak causes me stress and I start to feel unequal to the tasks of daily life. This leads to feelings of depression, self-criticism (to which I'm already predisposed), more stress, consumption of excessive carbs and chocolate...

...but it doesn't lead to motivation to exercise. It's a nasty cycle and breaking it is hard. Just committing to that first workout after a few weeks off is the hardest. Best not to get caught to begin with. I must choose, consciously each day, to squeeze exercise in.

My fitness history lacks consistency. In my childhood/ teenagery, I was a competitive swimmer, a cross-country runner, and a roller-skating rink referee (that job will tone your tuchus.) In my young(er) adult years I had babies. I lost the baby weight and stayed mostly fit through breastfeeding, running, some free weights, a really excellent Pilates For Dummies DVD, and walking uphill pushing a stroller. Amber reincarnate discovered Oula and even trained to be an Oula instructor, but was interrupted by life and that whole pesky heart-surgery debacle, on top of early-onset arthritis in both my knees. Which is quite painful at times. Stupid barefoot running trends in the 90's. And now...

One might think that because I work at a Y, finding the time to exercise would be easy. I keep workout clothes in my office. Which is down one flight of stairs from the gym, for pete's sake. But on that list of must-dos (see paragraph one), and I'm not making this one up, is Must Work At Least 32 Hours Per Week So As To Not Be Homeless, while going to school, studying, managing a household, teaching Sunday school, and being all- in for three kiddos- the most important task of all. Sometimes, that bare-minimum half-hour, plus at least 15 minutes to change clothes/ freshen up after, just isn't there. I have found that on days when I plan to exercise during my work day, and things just don't flow that way (my work to-do list is in constant, varied flux), it completely ruins my 'tude.  

This semester (I promise I'm a grown-up), squeezing it in is functioning in three ways:

1. If I get up at 6, when my alarm goes off, and don't fall back asleep (which depends on how late I was up studying/ writing/ eliminating my politically-stupid "friends" on Facebook the night before) then I have time to throw on a sports bra and run through three 7-minute workout circuits before hitting the shower.

2. If I have a load of reading to do after the kids are in bed (and I haven't dozed off while reading Jasper a bedtime story, semi-consciously adding words to the page that just aren't there*), then I can use some combination of my resistance band, yoga mat, and weighted hula hoop for any exercises which can be done while holding a book. There are actually quite a few.

3. If, in the course of rushing back and forth betwixt work and campus each day, I can pull into my parking spot (yes, I have a secret parking spot; no, I won't tell you where it is), which is exactly one mile from campus, with a bare minimum of 19 minutes until class starts, then I can walk instead of riding the bus. I've timed it. It takes me 14 minutes exactly to walk to the corner of campus in winter weather, 12 when the sidewalks are clear. Which leaves 5-7 minutes to get to the right building, fill the water bottle, hit the bathroom, and find a seat before classwork officially begins. So between there and back, and depending on the day, I can walk 2-4 miles if the fates of time-management help me play my cards right.

Notice how each of these contingencies starts with "if"?

But I'm leaning on them optimistically. They might not help me lose the 20 pounds I didn't have a year ago, but squeezing in at least one each day helps me feel more equal to life's tasks, and better about who I am.

*The words "Fake it, fake it, fake it 'till you make it" actually don't appear in Curious George Flies a Kite. Huh.

1 comment:

  1. the struggle is real. I really need to start exercising at all... but it really is crazy hard to fit it in. But having multiple fit-it-in-somewhere plans is a great idea. Thanks for inspiring me my friend. Seriously, I'm making plans and contingency plans..