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Exercise as Pleasure, Not Punishment

Posted Aug 24 2009 12:35pm

It was not too long ago – less than a year – that I viewed exercise (or “activity” as WW likes to euphemistically call it) as painful, something to be dreaded and endured. Even though I was going to a personal trainer twice a week, I rarely did anything on the other days. And I often could barely get through my workouts. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I threw up (I am not kidding). Sometimes I acted like a total whiney wimp so my trainer would have mercy on me and go easy on my poor pathetic self. It wasn’t pretty. I’d also use exercise as a tool to flog myself when I ate too much. Again, NOT pretty.

But things changed when January 2009 and this blog and my diabetes diagnosis rolled around. I knew that I was going to have to step it up or my body and health were in for big trouble. So I upped the trainer to 3x a week, and started myself on the Couch-to-5k running program. It was not so easy at first, but eventually my 60 second runs turned into two minute runs, then three and five and fifteen minutes. Around that time I actually began LOOKING FORWARD to working out. Once I began working out 5-6 times a week, I began feeling that endorphin rush that I had believed was a mythical state of being. I started feeling happier and more energetic. I stopped wanting to take naps every single day.

For many months, I felt like the longer, the harder, the better. I would go to the gym and go at the elliptical like a mad woman. All this was good. I got a lot stronger. I lost weight. All good!

But I started thinking, how the heck am I going to keep this up when I am sixty years old? Seventy? The idea of it made me feel kind of nervous and worried.

Not long ago, a friend of mine brought me to a Nia class for the first time. It was really one of the most unusual exercise experiences I have ever had. I was not sure what to make of it. I sort of mocked it but I had to admit that it made me feel good, and after that class, I really wanted to do it again (that’s always a good sign!). So yesterday I went to my second class. It was even better than the first one. I enjoyed it so much. The teacher had fabulous dimples (I am a complete sucker for dimples) and kept using words like “juicy” and “gooey” and “yummy.” She was just like that – yummy! and really happy. At the end of the class she put on this song called “Dream” and she was singing along with it really loudly and joyfully, just like you sing in the car with the windows rolled up. I mean, she really belted it out and it was so great! I did not have the guts to belt it out along with her, but it was great to hear.

Today I went to another class, at another place. This teacher was super graceful, elegant and willowy and just beautiful to watch. She was so cool. The other two Nia classes I went to both made me want to laugh out loud (I did, actually) but today’s class had me almost crying in parts. I got really emotional and lump-in-throat as we were moving around. But in a good way.

If you look at the Nia website, one of the testimonials has this woman saying she used to pump iron and such, but now all she does is Nia and she is in super amazing shape. And I had to think, WOW, could you really be in such awesome shape from something that is so much FUN? It does not seem possible. And this is something that seventy year olds can totally do. And thirty year olds.

But I also did not think it was possible to lose weight while eating yummy foods like cheese, brownies, birthday cake and Prosecco. And here I am, doing just that.

It’s made me rethink all the ideas I had about “dieting” and “exercise.” Maybe it doesn’t have to be torture. Maybe the secret is that it CAN’T be torture.  :-)

Posted in diabetes, emotions, exercise, health, Nia, running Tagged: activity, aerobics, Couch to 5k, exercise, fitness, Nia, Nia dance, running
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