My long and troubled relationship with my body and its fitness level is no secret. Last year I struggled through the summer and early fall to get my back problems straightened out. With the help of a wonderful physical therapist, a groovy new-agey massage therapist, and lots of money, I managed to loosen up the seven years of tension that were locked up in my muscles and take advantage of the strength I already had. Now I stretch (almost) every morning just to maintain a minimum level of mobility. When I am regularly exercising, such as during the school year when Kyle and I walk to school in the morning, I am a much happier person than when I’m just sitting here at my desk and ignoring exercise, which I would much rather do.
And then you all know what happened last fall.
And then it was Christmas.
And then it was New Year’s Day. Despite my loathing of resolutions this year, I still used the turn of the calendar page to renew my commitment to my physical health. I did this mentally at first, knowing that school would be starting again soon and we would go back to regular walks. But then this fitness cheerleader friend and colleague of mine started popping up in my Twitter and Facebook streams announcing a fitness challenge.
Despite my general aversion to things with a variation of the word “Mom” as a replacement for a syllable in their titles, I signed up. It seemed easy enough: you sign up with your Twitter handle, publicly committing yourself to the program. You follow a daily workout schedule in which the exercises are simple enough to do at home with minimal equipment, tweeting when you complete each session. You also have to move a lot more, aiming to clock 10,000 steps a day. You have the option to watch what you eat and tweet photos of your meals “to keep yourself accountable.”
For me the hardest part was fitting the workouts into my schedule. Since I had made a commitment, I was more motivated to do this, and so I started making the boys’ lunches at night, getting up at 6AM to stretch, loosen my neck, drink a cup of coffee, change, then do the workout. Only then would I eat if I had time, then walk Kyle to school. By 8:30 I was done with my workout and morning obligations and ready to start my desk job.
It went like this most days, but sometimes I would split the workouts, which consisted of three circuits, into two chunks. I got an Omron pedometer from Leah, who conveniently lives just 2 towns northeast of me. I averaged about 8,000 steps a day. I blame my desk job. On the two special challenge days, I did 100 situps (broken out into sets of 20 because I was too out of shape to tackle them all at once) and ran/walked 1.5 miles using a Couch-To-5K podcast. The second challenge day asked for 2.0 miles, but I couldn’t do it. Too winded and in pain all over.
I wasn’t so great about watching what I ate. I think I drank less alcohol than usual, but right at the end of the two weeks a friend came to visit from out of town and all she wanted to eat was Mexican food because you can’t get it where she lives. There was a lot of guacamole and tequila involved.
In the end I lost 2 pounds and 2.5 inches from various parts of my body. That’s not such a big deal. But those numbers and the sense of accomplishment and physical well-being I felt after working out consistently are enough to keep me thinking about exercising more often. This morning I pulled out the Wii Fit Plus after 402 days of it sitting in the closet. I know how many days because the darned thing remembers.