We are constantly told that exercise is good for almost everything: Weight management especially, along with reduction/elimination of symtoms of most illnesses, and improved vigor, attitude, flexibility, stamina, sex drive, concentration and productivity. We hear about it and we read about it, so why don't we do it? It's not because we are lazy; it's because we invent excuses to avoid it.
Here are my excuses: I grew up a well-fed child. "Chunky" would be a gentle term for my age-12 size. I wasn't any good at sports, and activities that made me sweat weren't any fun. At my house, feeding was a way to express love, and everything came to the table drowning in butter. Meals were hearty and our refrigerator was always bursting with various desserts.
Now I work 14-20 hour days. I love what I do, but my schedule makes it easy to put exercise way back on the back burner. Every morning I wake up to stacks of messages, hundreds of e-mails, and a full cell phone mailbox and appointment calendar. Sound familiar?
I'm a failed graduate of every diet program known to mankind, and I've never hit the optimum weight number on the medical charts. I tend to hover right around the 20-pound-plus overweight range.
I love to cook and I relish feeding my family and friends. I have a weakness for dark chocolate and a really good vodka. Still, I'd love to be thinner and, although I dread the first few minutes of a vigorous walk, when the endorphins kick in they're a delicious treat.
I'm a fairly typical "A" personality Boomer who regularly sets and exceeds goals, and loves hard work and challenges. So what's my problem? My history of unsuccessful dieting proves that food is my fall-back for onslaughts of negatives--stress, fatigue and computer breakdowns. Food to me is an addiction that requires a "rehab" program and constant vigilance. I get it, but sometimes chocolate always makes me feel better.
Okay. If I could just balance my food intake with enough exercise to burn the calories I devour--and perhaps a few more--my problem would be solved.
A couple of years ago, a friend told me how he stays on track. His goal was to "walk" to every state capitals. (I'm pretty sure we're talking about the lower 48 here). Carrying a wrist pedometer and his baggie of stick pins, he walks outside in good weather, at the gym, or on his home treadmill.
He went to Triple A and a store called "Latitudes" to find a good-sized US map that now hangs on his wall. Next, he calculated distances between the capital cities using an old atlas, and started out.
Walking three to five miles a day it took him nearly two months to get to the capital of an adjorning state and just over a year to reach the east coast from his home in the midwest. Last I heard he was about a third of the way to his goal and was considering adding Hawaii and Alaska.
An interesting thing happened to him along the way. His goal became the journey rather than the weight loss. He discovered that on the days when he was "almost there" he would pick up the pace and put in an extra mile or two.
Today, I came across another element that could make this program more attractive. Internet mapping sites now add visuals to their directional maps so that viewers can see what they would encounter along the route. We can take a virtual tour! With a computer screen in sight, we can plot our journey. Or we could install a reading rack with an IPad on our treadmills and off we go.
Here's the Kathy challenge. I've always done better at weight loss when I had to weigh in. I'm goint to get the map and plan my first year's journey today. Will you join me? I'm fairly competitive, so let's make it a race: I'll clock our progress on my blog page every Friday. I'll list the names (or aliases!) of all participants according to distances traveled. I doubt I'll leave any stragglers, but I will keep up, stay consistent and hopefully reap all the wonderful benefits that medical research promises. Guilt has always been one of my top three motivators!