When you’re busy, exercise is more important than ever

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Does your life ever feel like a chaotic mess? Photo Credit: ComputerHotline Flickr via Compfight cc

Whew!

I’m tired. This happens at the beginning of every semester. There’s always an adjustment period that comes with being in the office regularly, teaching classes, and meeting with students (at the beginning of the semester this usually means panicked students who haven’t yet registered for class or who are making changes to their schedules before the drop/add deadline passes).

My 5:15 a.m. alarm felt especially early this morning, especially since the craziness of the semester translates into middle-of-the-night wide-awake thoughts about to-do lists and such. But I got up because I have the 6 a.m. yoga class to teach.

I’m glad I have this reason to get to the gym, because I’m pretty sure I would have found it hard this morning to get up and out of bed otherwise. If I had a choice, today would have been a day to say “forget it” to the gym. I could have definitely used that hour or two to sleep, or I could have gotten up and worked on any number of tasks for my job.

If I didn’t have to teach yoga, I would have found many excuses to not go to the gym. “I’m too busy” is a really easy thing to say.

But there has never been a time when I have finished the yoga class or a workout and thought, “I shouldn’t have done that.” I am ALWAYS thankful that I did it and always feel better afterward.

When we’re the busiest is EXACTLY the time to make sure we don’t skip our workouts.

I understand that there are so many other things that can get done during gym or exercise time. But look at all the things that exercise accomplishes:

* Gives us energy.

* Gives us a break from work.

* Keeps us in touch with our physical selves.

* Reduces anxiety.

* Boosts metabolism.

When you’re busy, don’t you need those things more than ever? As you return to school or find yourself under water at work or take on new responsibilities, maybe you have to scale back your gym routine. Maybe you like to work out for an hour, but now maybe it has to be 30 minutes. Or 15 minutes. Or 5 really, really hard and intense minutes.

Point being, any minute is better than 0 minutes.

And when you can fit in a workout amid your busy day, you get an extra sense of accomplishment. You did something that at first didn’t seem feasible — you found the time to work out. Congratulate yourself!

Early 40s, and my body freaked out

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Flickr photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/b10lm/

In early 2017, I went to the doctor because I had gained approximately 10 pounds in two months.

This had never happened to me before. I’ve always been able to maintain a steady weight with nothing more than a 2-3 pound fluctuation here and there. I was still running — not a ton, not in training for anything — but physically active nonetheless. I didn’t think I had changed my eating habits radically, though I had become a little more sloppy about portion sizes and not carefully watching my added-sugar intake. But still, that didn’t seem to explain 10 pounds in two months.

I requested a thyroid test and while my doctor thought certainly that could be a cause, she thought my age was more than likely the culprit. I was 42. She told me that bodies change, metabolism changes, and it’s all part of getting older.

I was supposed to accept that? It’s just part of getting older? She made it seem like I didn’t have any control over the situation. I wonder how many other women are told this? Could this explain in part our obesity problem in the U.S.? If your doctor tells you “that’s just how it is,” how many people are accepting that?

It’s been a little over a year and I’ve been on a journey to regain my fitness and get my body back to a place where I feel comfortable in it. I know my body and I know what it’s capable of, and that’s what I’m striving for.

It’s been a learning process. I have no doubt that my age has shifted my body and its processes. I used to be able to eat almost anything I wanted to and not gain any weight. In the past year, I’ve learned I have to really pay attention to portion sizes and added sugar.

Last summer was a struggle for me as I realized this was not going to be easy. In the past if I had gained 4-5 pounds over time, I could change my eating habits and get back to my ideal weight pretty quickly. That was not happening at all through the summer, and summer is my time to hit the physical activity hard with running, cycling, and swimming. I was exercising A LOT and paying attention to what I ate. I managed to lose about 8 pounds between February and September 2017 but I was still a few pounds away from my ideal weight.

Now a little more than a year has passed and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I’m still 4-5 pounds above what I consider my ideal “fighting” weight. This is the weight where I feel the best. Note that I said “feel,” not “look.” At an ideal weight I run better, I cycle better, I swim better, I do yoga better, etc.

I will be blogging occasionally about this journey and what I’ve done to turn things around. In short, I’ve put a lot of time into it and have had to change the way I eat. While I don’t feel I’m depriving myself of my favorite things, it is hard to change from being able to eat anything to having to carefully watch what I eat.

Also in short: If you are struggling with this very thing, know that you are in control. Don’t let anyone tell you “that’s just how it is.” If you are ready to make a commitment to feel better, you can do it.