2/17/2012

the rewards of exercise

So, one of my words for 2012 is Strong. As in "I am strong." After almost a decade of horrible pain, both physically and emotionally, I am healing, and it's time to embrace my strength and build it up. I'm doing lots towards this emotionally and spiritually, but given my "sacramental" bent, I like to connect those kinds of things to some kind of physical act.

MM and I decided to add morning exercise to our daily rhythm this year. Which is hilarious for two very NOT morning people. We HATE to get out of bed in the morning. Especially when it is cold! And, so that we don't fail and die miserable firey deaths of suck, we are going slow. And I mean sssslllllooooooooowwwwwww. Baby, baby steps. And I'm doing all I can to trick myself into thinking all this is enjoyable.

The basic idea is to just build a habit of exercise into the rhythm of our day, so that at least we do something. Just move. Whatever that looks like. Right now it looks like two sleepy persons rolling around vaguely on yoga mats for 30 minutes, mumbling. But eventually, we'll add more elements, until we have a robust and varied exercise regimen.

For January and February, our Lofty Goals have been:
 - Get out of bed, dammit!
 - Stretch Gently
 - Do a few strengthening exercises for our various injured areas

MM has some strengthening exercises from his physical therapist for his back and from his martial arts drills. My first strength "project" is to work on the 200 Situps program. Eventually, I want to do all the 100s (pushups, dips, squats) and probably a few others. But for now, this is a good beginning.

MM is hard core. He's already lifting some weights and doing things like "reps" and "sets". I am the opposite of hard core. When I saw that week 1 of the beginners (wimpy) situp program meant starting at 3 and working up to 5, I knew that would be too much. (Seriously wimpy, people.) So I came up with Week -2 which started with 1. My intervals were 1, 2, 1, 1, 2 with 60 seconds of rest in between each "set". (Seriously, seriously, wimpy.)

Another change I made was to integrate the situps with my stretches, so it just feels like part of the routine. This may not work when I get into the real program, but for now, it's great. I love the stretches, so its sort of tricking me into liking the situps too. Haha!

The last change I made was to go ahead and do these every day instead of every other day. Again, this won't work when I'm doing the actual program, which depends on periods of rest, but at this point, it was more important that I do something every day and get acclimated to moving. And again, this seems to be tricking me into thinking this is fun.

And it is helping. I'm feeling good. All the deep breathing and stretching is really helping my back. I've been able to forgo a massage for two months, and its been over a month since I was last at the chiropractor. I don't do much, but I already feel stronger. And today, near the end of week 0, I can do 5 situps in a row. I can feel a little bit of that, "Dude, I exercised!" feeling in my muscles. Good feeling. (Even still, my favorite stretches are child and corpse. "I can totally lay down for 30 seconds! Wooo! Look at me exercise!")  

The other great thing is being able to do this with MM. We would both rather spend our mornings snuggled up under the comforter. Neither of us really enjoys regimented exercise. And neither of us is good at doing even truly fun exercise (biking, swords, dancing) solo. But I love our time spent rolling vaguely on yoga mats and mumbling together. He encourages me a lot!

And I think we're a good team. He taught me a classic fencing lunge that gives a great whole body stretch, and he has other exercises from his days in bodybuilding that I don't know. This week, he started having some shoulder issues from increased sword training, and I taught him a stretching routine that relieves pain and helps him loosen up. I can see more of this in our future. I've done dancing. He's run a marathon. We can teach each other and learn together, and spur one another on.

Plus, when he does jumping jacks, his pj/sweats threaten to fall down, and I just know that one of these days, I'm gonna get to see his buns. (My husband has cute buns!)

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