Living Well Part 2: Working Out

Now this might surprise you but I’ve been working out all my life. You were right to assume that I’ve never been into sports. I’m not nearly coordinated enough and my balance sucks. Plus, I have asthma. And weak ankles that freak out on me if I’m running on unstable ground or doing anything they perceive as risky. So sports have always been out of the question. I’m also a loner at the core so being a part of a team, especially one I haven’t selected myself, holds no appeal and never has. But working out is different. For the most part it is a solitary activity, which has always appealed to me.

Back in elementary school and middle school my family had Richard Simmons’ workout videos and this cheesy Christian workout video for children called “You are Wonderfully Made” or something like that. Christa and I would do the workouts in our living room. She also had a friend who was a dancer who taught us a few workouts. And around eighth grade I fell in love with crunches. (I still love crunches).

Over the years I’ve continued to try out different workouts like Tae Bow, Kickboxing, Zumba, Pilates and Belly dancing. I’ve even done a Bollywood Dance workout. Most of these I’ve done in the comfort of my own living room or bedroom (once I even did Pilates in a teeny tiny little study room with my friend Lucy – had anyone been able to fit in there with us it probably would have been a sight to see).

Now the problem is that I’ve never worked out very consistently. There are few primary reasons.

1) I’m not very good at consistency in general. I can be rather Sherlock Holmesian (minus the opium): completely driven and hyper productive for a time, then rather lethargic. I’m not much into routine. When left to my own devises my days don’t tend to follow a consistent schedule. For the most part, I like it that way. I prefer to feel like each day is uniquely its own.

2) I didn’t prioritize working out. For a very long time it was just something that I enjoyed doing because it felt good, not because I wanted to lose weight.  So it was like a bonus activity that I could slip into my day if I had the time or inclination. I very often didn’t feel I had the time or inclination so it didn’t happen that much.

3) I feel I need space and solitude to workout. Space is just simply a necessity for most good works. Solitude is more of a preference, though it can sometimes feel like a necessity, unless I’m doing weight lifting (which I took a class in high school and college for and still regularly-ish use free weights) then I don’t care. When I’m doing a more active workout I prefer it to be private.

I used to always blame Christa for my need to be alone when working out. I said she gave me a complex because whenever we used to work out together she’d always tell me I was doing it wrong. And how do you explain to your stick thin little sister that you’re body has too much in the way to move “right”? Maybe that’s how this started, with a self-conscious attitude about my body. But that isn’t the reason now.

I have a lot more freedom of motion now and let’s just say it isn’t as unflattering when I jogging. That’s not the issue now. It’s that I’m self-conscious about my workouts themselves.

What I’ve learned as I’ve done all these workout videos is that it bores me to just follow along. I like to mix in my own moves (or favorite moves I picked up from other workouts). Also, there are some things that my body and I just don’t like to do. (For example, anything that requires good balance, especially at a rapid or really any pace). Also, I lose interest quickly if I don’t feel like I’m getting a good full workout that somewhat fast paced but not crazy (remember I have those weird ankles that I have to watch out for). Pilates for example bores me to death. Plus, it’s just not fun. Working out is supposed to be fun. Along with all these things, workout videos usually use the most dreadful music which doesn’t help get you energized or excited.

So my workouts now are just a weird mix of all the different things I’ve tried. I do dance workouts that incorporate kickboxing, belly dancing, Zumba and club dancing. When I’m on the treadmill the only way I’m not bored out of my mind is by doing hand motions and working out my upper body. Sometimes I even pull out some of the silly moves from that children’s workout: ‘Shoot the basketball’ ‘Play the keyboard’ ‘Wax the car.’ All in all, I’m sure I look ridiculous. Especially since I like to make silly faces as I work out to make it more interesting.

So, considering what my workouts tend to look like I prefer to keep them to myself. But lately I’ve been branching out. I went to a Zumba group with Christa when I was in Ohio (and don’t tell me people don’t look at you when you work out because afterward one of the women totally commented on the silly faces I had been making – which I mostly did to keep myself at ease whenever we started doing moves my ankles rejected and I had to freestyle). Also, I’ve been using the fitness center at my parents’ apartment complex. Okay, I’m mostly alone there because I choose good times but someone could walk in at any time. And despite that risk I’ve been doing my usual handmotions and such as I jog/speed walk on the treadmill (my ankles, lungs and I aren’t yet ready to run).

Gradually becoming more comfortable working out in public spaces is allowing me to be able to be more consistent about working out. Especially since I don’t have my own home right now, to have the space I need to work out I often do need to go somewhere. Along with this, I have begun to actual prioritize working out. Not having a big beautiful city to walk, I now need some other way to keep up my endurance. Also, the healthier I become the more fit I desire to be. Weight Watchers is helping me to develop more consistency. I don’t know if I’ll ever work out at the same time or on the same days every week (I think that’s just asking way too much of me and it’s not something I really want for myself) but I’m beginning to work out 3-5 times every week.

The beauty of Weight Watchers in this area is that it helps me keep track of my consistency and adds to my sense of accomplishment. In the program you earn points for your workouts (of course, the number of points all depends on the type of workout, the length and intensity).  I really like being able to see a chart of how often I’ve worked out and I absolutely love seeing the points I’ve earned. I can use the points on food and I usually do. Sometimes I’m motivated simply by the fact that I need the extra points. But mostly, I just find it thrilling to earn sometimes 9-14 points for a good long workout and to see the number continue to increase throughout the week.

This is a really cool workout though it’s totally one that you already have to be pretty fit to be able to do.

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