I have been avoiding this subject because my husband and I haven’t been doing very good at getting into exercise. We are loath to exercise or sweat in anyway. My husband doesn’t even like to be outside the house very much. We joke he is a vampire. So we have a lot of history and emotion to overcome before we will tolerate, much less enjoy exercise for exercise sake.I can only speak for me when I say that years of hating exercise is hard to overcome.
I can remember crying during aerobics in the fifth grade because my ankles hurt. I was slumped over, in my corduroy pants swooshing with every beat of Micheal Jackson’s thriller, and my tears were dappling on my over sized yellow sweater. I had the personal feeling that the Presidents physical fitness awards were meant to be a torture technique in order to get children exhausted, embarrassed and submissive. I only passed one, the stretching. I desperately wanted to pass sprinting or rug climbing, but nope it wouldn’t work. I was left red faced and stinking the rest of the day looking at all the other children that seemed to accomplish these things with such ease. Oh, and did I mention that I stink when I sweat. Oh yeah, like big smelly onions. My cousin used to call me Onion when he was mad at me. Brad says when I exercise I smell like Chicken Chow Mien. It wasn’t until almost the end of high school that I finally worked through every deodorant out there and finally found Mitchum, and I don’t care what they say, even with that shellac on my armpits I can’t skip a day. Not to mention that in the humid air of Oklahoma my feet would get so sweaty that I constantly had athletes foot. My feet stunk, and it was worse than the onion smell, that’s all I’ll say.
When I was in junior high my mother used to make me run around the neighborhood and then if I didn’t do it fast enough I had to do sit ups in the front lawn in front of the entire neighborhood, including the boy I had a crush on down the street. Running in gym wasn’t much better with the green polyester shorts that rode up between my thighs and the white shirt with my name on it that would show the outline of my bra and stomach when I sweated. So I would be running and constantly pulling down my shorts so people couldn’t see my fat thighs or the color of my underpants, and then I would also shove down my shirt so it wouldn’t stick to me outlining my belly pudge. The shorts would chafe my thighs and give me a rash. I always performed last in all races, and any games. I was the one chosen last in everything. As a 14 year old girl, these experiences equated shame and hatred of exercise. These same themes continued into high school, including all the normal nervous problems most teens have: showering with other people, looking like a wet rat during and after, having my period, and what I consider the worst… sweating in front of other people.
It wasn’t all bad I suppose. I remember biking with my family and while I didn’t love it at first, I never hated it. We used to bike all together all over the city. I liked biking because it never hurt my ankles and the wind was so good at cooling the sweat. Also, there was a street in Enid that had two huge hills, and I could beat everyone up the first hill, which I think gave me a sense of accomplishment, but Mom always beat me up the second one. The other thing I loved was Easter. Easter we always went out to my Aunt Gail’s house and it was the first time I liked organized sports. Either softball or volleyball was the game of choice for the family, and my Aunts and Uncles were always very kind to me. I was never chosen last, and they never pointed out how inept I was or uncoordinated. They never allowed the other kids to either. My Uncles would say Good Job Danielle, way to hustle. My Aunts would clap if I did something good, and if I messed up they would say no problem, shake it off. When I would act hesitant about my abilities they would say, You can do it step up there. It was such an encouraging experience that I really wish I lived closer so I could go home for Easter. I have such fond memories of that. It was the one time of the year I felt capable of exercise. Thank you family.
I did take swimming lessons every year, while I wasn’t the best at it, I wasn’t the worst. I loved swimming. Swimming always costs money, that is it’s only downfall. I could only do it about two weeks out of the year because that was what we could afford. I love the water. To this day that is my exercise of choice. You don’t sweat, and no one can really see you in the water. I love swimming because I can just stay in the pool all day. I can buy cute swim suits, and I love gliding in silence feeling the water rush over my body. It is a sensual sort of exercise. So unfortunately I don’t have the money for a gym membership to go swimming, my husband and I have started walking, as I have told you. We have started going to a different park every time in order to not get bored. It has been working out although not as well as I want it to. We have only been making it twice a week at most. We are struggling to make it more. Also we aren’t walking very long, only about 10 to 15 minutes. I walk until my hips start to hurt which is usually about 10-15 minutes. Although that isn’t always true.This week we went to Vancouver BC for a convention. The convention was about 30 minutes drive from our hotel and my husband was frustrated driving that long so we decided to take the Sky train. It was a mile and a half walk to and from the Sky train, and Vancouver is not flat. That morning we set out to get to the train with vigor. We got to the train pain free but sweating, maybe it was because I was excited to see Mike Dopud, the Stargate Universe gorgeous man that was the first on the speaking schedule, which I missed by the way. We were late because of the walking and not knowing how to use the sky train. When we got to the sky train I was sweaty but my hips weren’t hurting. My calves were sore, but not too bad. So we know we can do at least a mile now.
Now the way back, that was another story. I was tired and it was after midnight in a strange city. The only thing I think got us through was the fact that we were so happy after the dessert party we went too; hobnobbing with Stargate celebrities like Lou Diamond Phillips, Kavan Smith, and Christopher Judge. We were giggling, recapping the night, and we even stopped a couple times to take pictures with some of the art on the street. About halfway through I started getting extreme pain in my calves, feet, and hips. I was having such a hard time walking. I was sweating and huffing and puffing. We turned a corner and there was a guy walking towards us. Now in Vancouver, lots of guys were those hoodies, with the hoodies up. Here in America they are only used in the rain, or when you are trying to rob someone. Well this guy dressed in all black, including a black hoodie pulled up over his face walked towards us, until he passed us and then turned around and started following us. So at this point it is like almost one in the morning and I am freaking out. I keep turning around to look at him. Brad’s like, “Stop staring.”
I whisper back, “You have to let them know you are aware and you are tough.”
I look back and scowl my best scowl, and pump my fists to my side. I look at Brad and nod my head as if we have just decided something. Now I must let you know that I am five three wearing a pink gauzy shirt. I am not really intimidating anyone, but I am walking as fast as my fat feet will carry me. We finally hit the end of the block, turn the corner and he never comes. I took this time to take a small break, but Brad says we only have one block left. We end up taking a short cut through a muddy field. This is worse on my calves. By the time we hit the hotel room, I think I am having a heart attack. I collapse on the bed huffing and puffing and I said, “I am having a heart attack.”
Brad says, “You’re alright.”
Then he goes to the bathroom and gets me a cold wash cloth for my head, and opens the balcony doors. It took twenty minutes for my heart to stop hopping out of my chest.
So my experience with exercise isn’t ever consistent but the mostly I feel shame, inexperience, and inept. I don’t think that will ever go away. I think it may change and get better the more we do it, but I don’t know if I will ever completely not be the red faced, sweaty dunce who trips in gym class.
***** After reading this blog, my friend and the best hairdresser in the Boise Area, Shannon Hugi from Studio 19, sent me this link. I teared up. It is very inspiring. Please watch.