In The Grand Tradition

I have worn these sneakers out already!
I have worn these sneakers out already!

My earliest memory of exercise, I was in the gym at school as early as second or third grade, I was crying. My ankles hurt too much. I was hoping around and crying and no one cared. I have always resented exercise.

My mode of release and relaxation has always been reading.  I counted myself very blessed because I had all the resources to become well read. I had teachers, parents who loved education, and a natural talent for it. Everything I read shored up this belief. Benjamin Franklin taught himself to read, can you believe that? I read Frederick Douglas and thought, Hell ya, reading is power! He learned to read despite being enslaved and refused any resources. Women in some areas of the world are still denied an education. Did I not have the responsibility as a human, a woman, and an American to learn all I could? I am in a privileged class of people with all the resources and education I can pay for.

Feeling privileged, I have always read voraciously. I exercise only sporadically if that. I always considered exercise a chore. Exercise is something I have to do, not want to do. I have never thought about exercise as something that I should feel blessed to be able to accomplish. Last night I was reading Health magazine and they were asking readers What Tricks Do You Use To Boost Your Willpower? One of the readers responded, “I always tell myself that today I’m privileged to be able to work out. You may not always have your health or be physically able to exercise. Do it while you can!” –Kerry A. via facebook”

I had never really thought about being able to do exercise as a privilege. After reading this comment, I feel incredibly idiotic to not have seen or felt this before.  Yesterday, I woke up feeling horrible. Because of my undiagnosed sleep apnea I have arthritis in my neck. I would wake up gasping in the middle of the night and repeatedly jerk my neck. Still sometimes I wake up with amazingly painful headaches. Yesterday was one of those days. I was unable to think for most of the day. I went back to bed for most of the day. I woke up later and realized I had slept the day away and felt saddened and regretful. I was guilty. I then felt that guilt for not getting in any exercise. If I felt about it differently, the way I do about reading and education, I wouldn’t feel guilty when I don’t do it. I would feel empowered when I do.

There are many ways to excel at physical fitness, but the first thing I need to do is change the way I think about it. This change is so hard. It is part of my being to resent exercise for many reasons. First of all, I have never been good at it. I suck at walking in general. I am one of the least graceful people in the world (no exaggeration.) I sweat and stink which brought me shame in my youth. My ankles are still bad but I am working on it.

A quote was posted to my Facebook group, #LiveAlittle Project, “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that – that is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. –Amy Poehler. This is so true, but what is really hard is keeping up doing what I am not good at. I am horrible at most exercise but I must keep going. I have no other choice because I am able. It is my responsibility not only to myself because I need to be capable, and in that way I can empower myself to be better and more capable.

So I am gonna keep exercising, and from now on I am going to feel empowered just for trying.  I can fail, and continue to fail but just because I will feel honored, just in the practice.

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