Blogversation 2012: What do you do to take care of your health?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation here and on their blogs — asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the ladies of Blogversation 2012.

Today’s question comes from your Blogversation hostess, Colleen: @cnewvine on Twitter.

What do you do to take care of your health?

My husband, John, and I recently started running.

Neither of us was especially excited about this decision.

To be honest, we’ve only gone a few times and we’re still doing a mix of walking and running, so it might be too early to tell if we really like it, but I think it’s fair to say it’s not a hobby we were enthused to pick up.

John’s tried running before, even went to a good sporting goods store to have his stride analyzed so he could get the right shoes for the way he runs. He didn’t fall in love.

I’ve been pretty vocal about disliking running. Basically unless I was being chased by a tiger, I couldn’t imagine anything that would motivate me to put that much pounding on my ankles and knees.

Then I turned 40. And the sad, sad truth is that as we get older, our metabolism slows down. I could either cut way back on how much I eat and drink or find a way to burn more calories.

Since I really enjoy eating and drinking, I sighed as I laced up my running shoes.

Our first few run-walks weren’t as bad as I expected.

We’ve been trying to go for walks when we get up in the morning so we were already getting used to getting up and out the door. So it wasn’t a huge struggle to find time for exercise. And even the running itself didn’t feel as awful as I expected.

Years ago, I interviewed a researcher at University of Michigan who studied self talk — the way we process what we’re experiencing in life. He said some people exercise and think to themselves, “oh, this is hard, it doesn’t feel good, I’m not good at this, I’m sweaty and that’s uncomfortable …” Others feel the same signals from their bodies and think, “I’m challenging myself and that’s great, sweating and breathing hard mean I’m pushing myself to be stronger and healthier, I’m getting better at this all the time …” Those who interpret the physical signals of exercise as positive tend to be better athletes.

I decided to approach running with as much positive self talk as I could.

I acknowledged to myself that I haven’t done cardiovascular exercise regularly in a while so it’s OK if I can only run a few minutes before I have to stop. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure as a runner. Just a beginner.

When my knee started to ache, I shortened my steps a little and noticed it felt better. Then rather than using that as an excuse to quit, I committed to asking some runner friends how to strengthen my knees. (now in my morning exercise routine: squats and lunges)

And as we ran through the park on the East River, with the Manhattan skyline just over the water, I enjoyed how it felt that my husband and I were taking care of ourselves, together, in our Brooklyn neighborhood. I liked that people walking their dogs saw us as a couple on their morning run.

I don’t love running yet. But I love that we’re making an effort together.

Are you a beginning runner, too? Here are a few resources:



Categories: health and well being, lifestyle

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. How’s the running going, Colleen? One nice thing, is you can do it wherever life takes you (although I’m not great about packing my running gear and am nervous about heading out in new cities, myself). Yoga has captured my attention in the last year.

  2. One thing I did recently that I loved was participate for 16 weeks in a diabetes prevention group at the local YMCA. I absolutely loved my group leader and the people in the group. We talked about goals around healthy diet and physical activity. We brainstormed around each other’s stumbling blocks. There was one session where we spent a big chunk of time just rallying around a woman who was having a really hard time in her life. It was good being in the group and feeling less isolated around the places I struggle. Although leading a healthy life has something to do with individual initiative and decision, it definitely helps to have group support and accountability. Also, nice PS to the story, I shared my Y group experience on the YMCA timeline and got a rockin’ old school YMCA t-shirt in the mail!

  3. I think there’s a lot to be said for doing something when you’re bad at it. I’m still a slow runner, but starting out I was reeeaaallly slow. I had to get through those runs so I could get to the runs where I didn’t feel like an elephant in a tank top. One thing I’ve done that’s really helped is cross-training. Biking, weights, yoga, whatever — using/strengthening different muscles in between runs is key.

  4. I don’t run. I know I should. But what I did do—and it changed my life and helped me lose 20 pounds—was listen to my esthetician. I totally changed how I ate and incorporated healthful changes into my life. I blogged about it at my new jenniferworick.com site: http://www.jenniferworick.com/?p=192

  5. I eat what I want, but not too much (a la Julia Child’s rec), walk in morning before breakfast, walk after dinner, walk and bike for transportation as much as possible, moderate “exercise”, manage stress, take vitamins, drink lots of water, sleep as much as possible, get lots of sun and fresh-ish air. Oh, and I married wisely.

  6. Running was my main exercise for years. While I never became a long-distance person — maybe five miles was my peak, but my usual run was around three or four — I loved it. I loved putting on my headphones and blasting music and heading out on one of my favorite routes in Ann Arbor, propelled only by my own legs. I remember one day, when I was far along in my first pregnancy, being at home and hearing the sound of footsteps crunching over dry leaves. I looked out the window and who went by but our friend Jim Ottaviani, doing exactly what I would have been doing on that gorgeous fall day: going for a run. I told him later that I didn’t miss alcohol as much as I missed a good sweaty run, which makes me sound like much more of a fitness freak than I really am — anyone who knows what I look like can attest to that — and he said, “You’ll be back out there before long.” And I was.

    Then, around my late 30s, it started to get harder. I still loved doing it, but I felt lousy afterward. For a few years I referred to myself as being in the process of becoming an ex-runner, because I never totally gave it up. But it became obvious to me that I needed to find another form of exercise.

    Enter boot camp. In fall of 2010, I saw a Groupon for a boot camp that took place at the park just down the street. The closeness left me no excuse. After my first class, I felt dizzy and nauseated for the rest of the day, yet bizarrely undeterred. As lousy as I felt, I *knew* that I had just done something good for me, and I wanted to stick with it. And so I have — three times a week (most weeks) at 6:45 a.m. It’s 45 minutes, a whole-body workout (I’ve always been very good at ignoring my upper body) that’s challenging but not murderous. The instructors are great and the other people are funny and cool, a real plus that early in the morning.

    I don’t look all that different (yes, indeed, the metabolism slowdown of your 40s), but I feel good, and proud that I can do ten, even twelve, pushups, and hold a plank for a minute. I still try to run once a week on my non-boot camp days, and actually it’s better now than in recent years, so maybe that’s another way boot camp is paying off.

  7. There are other ways to get a good cardio workout if you decide running isn’t for you. Some I’d argue more efficient and less jarring.

Trackbacks

  1. Blogversation 2012: Wrapping up a year of online conversation « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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