This series is all about the lessons I’m learning + the ways the people in my life inspire me. Today I’m sharing how I’ve been inspired to move my body.
When it comes to exercise, generally I’d rather not. I’m a low-energy book-reading homebody with a crooked back + feet who hates being sweaty. Plus I’m really good at using my kids as an excuse to not work out.
That said, I love how I feel when I make time to move my body more than just from the couch to the fridge and back. My mind is clearer, my back hurts less, I have more energy, and I sleep better.
Why is it so hard to do the things I know make me feel good? Shouldn’t “you’ll be happy you did it” be enough motivation to get up and move my body more?
I really wish it was. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for me.
I’m not a runner. Never have been, and I have no desire to start now. If I’m going to move my body, I want it to be dancing or swimming or something adjacent to those. (Water aerobics is totally my jam, because apparently I am 87 years old.) Without my own pool and with several small children who need supervision, though, I hadn’t made much headway in figuring out this exercise thing until last fall.
Now I go to a free Zumba class some women from my church congregation teach twice a week. Everyone brings small weights, a yoga mat, and their kids, who pretty much run wild for an hour and a half while we dance ourselves into exhaustion. Sometimes we do lots of cardio; sometimes we do more toning. Whatever we end up doing, I love it.
All the obstacles have been removed for me.
- I don’t have to look for a gym or a class I’d like
- It’s completely free
- Childcare is taken care of
- The schedule works well for me
- It’s a nonjudgmental environment with friendly people I like, and
- I don’t have to decide what to do. I show up and basically play follow the leader.
Even if I don’t move my body at all for the rest of the week, I know I’m getting some solid exercise every few days.
The only way it could be better is if we did it more frequently!
It’s been about four months since I started going to Zumba and I’ve noticed a few things:
My body has changed.
I have no idea if I’ve gained any weight but my clothes fit a little tighter than they once did. Probably because my atrophied muscles are being put to good use again. Guys. My arms have some visible muscles in them and my booty is looking gooooood. That said, I’m not feeling very skinny, Tony.
(Gold star if you can name that movie.)
I’m not exercising to lose weight, especially since I don’t know what I weigh anyway. And you know how I feel about SKINNY.
My goal for working out is simply to feel better in my body…and that is why I’m feeling a little conflicted. On one hand, I feel stronger + healthier. On the other hand, I don’t feel as confident in some of my clothes. I genuinely don’t mind being bigger and/or heavier, especially if it means being able to move around more easily. I do mind not feeling cute.
So that’s been weird to process.
I want to move my body more.
It’s physics, really: an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. I’ve been an object at rest for a LONG time. Now that I’m in motion again, I feel better when I stay that way. I dance and act silly with my kids more often. Working on the bathroom wears me out but I’m always far less sore than I expect to be.
My muscles want to be pushed a little bit harder…and I’m into it!
I still have a long way to go.
I can tell I’m making good progress. I don’t get as winded as quickly. Squats + triceps dips are getting easier, and I can actually feel some abs underneath my mom squish.
But I can celebrate my progress in some areas while still acknowledging places that need a lot more work.
Ryan is in that lovely, clingy-but-stubbornly-independent phase where he wants me all the time but also runs away because it’s funny. I’ve been hefting him around a lot more lately. The problem here is that a particular spot in my lower back gets shifted out of place and seizes up when I carry him too much. It’s also sensitive to stress and lack of sleep, both of which are part of my life lately. So even when I move my body around to loosen things up, it hurts almost constantly.
Massages help ease the tension, but the best long-term solution I’ve found is more strength in my abs + lower back. The more consistent I am in working those areas, the less pain and greater range of motion I have. (I’m pretty sure it’s a psoas issue but I probably need to talk to a physical therapist about it.)
It’s only been twice a week, most weeks, for the last few months. I can’t expect miracles. I also can’t let myself get discouraged and quit. The benefits of moving my body have been too great. Maybe not as dramatic or immediate as I might like, but remember: any progress is good.
So while I’m proud of how far I’ve come, I know I’ve only just started. Which is fine! A girl’s gotta start somewhere, right?
I’m not sure what the next step for me will be. While I adore Zumba, I’m probably going to need to add more to my current exercise regimen. Both girls will be in school full time this fall, so maybe I’ll look into a gym membership then. Or maybe I’ll make a more regular habit of doing Yoga with Adriene.
Until I figure out how to add more to what I’m already doing, I’m going to celebrate this new habit of mine and keep on dancing.
Do you schedule time in your week to move your body? Or is it a challenge for you too? What have you done to make it easier…or what do you think would help you overcome the obstacles in your way?