I don't do group sports. I don't like sweat. Athletic clothing freaks me out.
People wearing rainbows of bright colors with stripes and Adidas logos and Nike swooshes everywhere. Gives me hives. Shoes have too many options. Running. Aerobics. Basketball. Twenty different air-pumped arch support side vented streamlined aerodynamic thingamabobbers. I've had the same Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star black high tops for a decade.
Did you know track suits have snaps down the side of the pants so the runner can make a quick change to the shorts they wear underneath? I did not know that. I see pants that unzip, snap or velcro down the side and I think: Stripper. I pass guys from the college track team and am tempted to wave singles at them.
Years ago, I went to the gym 5 times a week, every week. For almost 2 years. Lifted weights, used various cardio machines. They played wierd music in the exercise classes. There were instructions on the right way to do things, the order in which to do them and the dangers of doing anything wrong. I struggled to find appropriate workout clothing and every morning found myself thinking: "Do I really care if this T-shirt matches these yoga pants? ... oh, dear lord. WHY do I care if this T-shirt matches these yoga pants?" I HATED the gym.
We get mixed messages regarding fitness (I talk about it in this post) from magazines, television and our peers. I don't want to know the great new way to tone my thighs using a rubber ball and a dining room chair. I am tired of being told that there is a correct way to do everything. When I was a child, I went outside and ran and climbed trees and scaled the jungle gym and it was exercise. If I was doing something the wrong way, I fell and bonked my head. THAT was my alert.
I am finally realizing that, just because I would rather have my head forcibly shaved than do choreographed routines with 20 other women in chic skin hugging ensembles, does NOT mean I can't be athletic. The exercise industry has tricked my adult self into thinking physical activity is supposed to follow some sort of pattern. The exercise industry can go suck a frog. I know those options work for a lot of people. If you're one of them - cool. Good for you. It's just that the rest of us sometimes feel like these freakish outsiders. Our entire culture has bought into the diet and gym enterprise.
I can do this my own way. Moronic that it took so long to occur to me, but a relief nonetheless. So the nest step is figuring out what exactly my way IS. My rules are simple:
1. I don't care about the right way to do it.I know that you have to be careful lifting weights - I'm not disagreeing with that. But I'm not lifting weights. I'm going with the basic principle that if it feels like I'm pulling the wrong muscle then I'll stop and do something else.
2. I like my jeans. I'm happy in my jeans. I'm going to jog in my freaking jeans.
3. No diets or meal bars or protein powders or any of that.Yuck. ew. Never again. That isn't food. Meal. Bar. Those two words do not belong together. And no cutting out an entire food group. Fiber, people. Your body needs it.
4. I can exercise to anything with a strong enough beat.I get my pulse racing to The Clash. The Ramones. T.Rex. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Cake. The Violent Femmes. Pat Benetar. Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made For Walking" ...What a difference the right music makes.
5. No plan. Just do something. That's "the plan".
I walk. I jog. I hike. I stretch out after or whenever I feel scrunchy. I rollerblade when I can find somewhere flat (It's hilly where I live. I live in terror of careening downhill on teeny rubber wheels. Rollerblading requires a switch from jeans to baggy skater pants, my one concession to "uniform.") I bought some cheap sneakers because I did finally realize that the Chucks just aren't good for a jog. Unless you want flat feet. I DO have an exercise mat at home. Don't ask me what I do on it. Some wierd assortment of crunches or push-ups or leg lifts or kind of whatever pops into my head. In no particular order. Until I'm tired. That's it.
Why all the fuss? I always thought I COULDN'T be a physically active person without buying into the modern machine that industry has become. I was so worried I might not be doing it right that I stopped doing it at all. I can't believe how helpless I started to feel. Now I just try to keep moving. It works.
Eat less. Exercise more. No brainer. I've had to buy new clothes and I'm halfway back to my all time, lowest ever, skinny-jeans-I-still-have-in-the-back-of-the-closet-from-high-school size. You know those jeans. I can't wait to put them on again. I'll have to throw a party. More importantly, I feel great. I'm getting back to that place your body reaches where you can feel your musculature when you move and it increases your appreciation for HOW your body works and WHY your body works. I feel more at home in my own skin. I want to feel like I did when I climbed trees as an 8 year old. My body was a tool I used to get myself up that tree (and onto the garage roof so I could spy on the neighbors and throw things at my friends without them seeing me) and there was no separation between it and me. I felt at home in it and trusted it and pushed it as far as it could go. Because it was FUN.
Three days ago I was on a walk and I just decided to start running. For the first time I can remember since childhood, I ran the way I did when I was 8. I ran as hard as I could until my lungs burned and my heart was thumping like crazy and my legs felt wobbly. It was wonderful. It was fun.