The life and times of a non-athlete

Does anyone else remember taking the President’s Fitness Challenge in gym class?  I dreaded it every year.  I couldn’t even do one pull-up and never got a satisfactory score on sit-ups or the mile run.  Who was to blame for the skinny little girl who:  couldn’t do a decent cartwheel; couldn’t catch a ball; couldn’t get her toes in fifth position; never played organized sports outside of gym class?  No wonder I was always one of the last chosen for kickball or any other team sport.  No wonder it wasn’t until decades later that I picked up my first dumbbell.

I made a few attempts at working out when I was a teen and later in college.  Remember Jane Fonda videos and feeling the burn?  Leg warmers and leotards?  A college roommate got me to run a few feet, walk a few feet, run a few more.  But that, like everything else, didn’t last very long.  I vividly remember a doctor telling my mother (when I was a teen) that I had no muscle tone!  Like I cared.

Seems to me, looking back, that my lame attempts at exercise typically coincided with attempts to lose weight.  (No surprise.)  And when I was in my thin phases, I didn’t even consider working out because I saw no reason to bother.  Given my history, would you be surprised to learn that I now work out almost every day?

So what changed?  I blame (or thank) two significant events that happened several years apart:  being diagnosed with familial high cholesterol and quitting work to stay home full-time.

When the former happened, I was actually contentedly slim.  But my doctor prescribed exercise so we bought a treadmill and I started to walk.  It wasn’t much but I kept it up for several years while I was working part-time.  Then when I quit my job 12 years ago, I realized I had no more excuses not to join a gym.  I was pretty uncomfortable going at first, not knowing what I was doing, trying not to be embarrassed, wondering if I’d ever wear cute workout clothes, decoding the lingo.  But eventually I braved group classes and was surprised at how fun and motivating they were.

Have I kept it up?  And more!  Despite some setbacks with gym closings, a relocated workout buddy, torn calf muscles, a broken toe, falling off my bike, and step-aerobic induced nerve damage.  I pretty much do something every day.  A typical week usually includes a couple sessions of strength training and varied cardio on the other days.  Once a week I even lift weights with my mom (who is an inspiration in her mid-70s) and a trainer.  My most strenuous cardio workout is cycling (either in class or outside).  And sometimes I just walk.  When all else fails, I grudgingly put in a wimpy half-hour on the elliptical at home.

Like most everyone, some days I struggle with motivation and just getting started, let alone putting in my time.  And even though I am consistent and work out often, I know I should take it to the next level.  Pilates, yoga, heavier weights, longer workouts?   It’s time to push myself.  I wouldn’t say I actually like exercise – but I like it when I’m done!  And I like that after 40-some years, I finally have muscle tone and am a far cry from the little girl in school gym class.



Filed under exercise, history (my past)

11 responses to “The life and times of a non-athlete

  1. Heidi58

    😀 Your post brought back some fun memories from the early 80’s. A bunch of us stay at home moms used to drag our babies and toddlers to the church in our legwarmers and puffy sleeved leotards to sweat along with Jane 3 mornings a week. lol

    I should be ashamed to admit it but I was always pretty fit and athletic (without a lot of effort) until I hit my mid 30’s. I can’t even blame my slide into obesity on “baby fat” – my kids were approaching their teens by then. I guess how we get there doesn’t matter – it’s how we get back on track that counts.

    Keep writing, I’m really enjoying your blog. 🙂

  2. Sunny

    I do remember all of that, and the Jane Fonda dancercize tape is what, eventually, got me to my only true method of exercise; dancing. I admire those of you that can get into and stay into formal exercise; that is not me and will never be me. If it’s not something I truly enjoy and even look forward to, it ain’t going to happen. Thank God I realized that it can with dancing. So I created an iPod play list of my all time favorite dance songs, and now I dance 30-60 minutes a day. I love it, and a day without dance is an unhappy and unfulfilling day for me.

    You are doing great! 😀

  3. waistingtime

    Thanks for your comments and kind words, Sunny and Heidi. I’m having fun following your blogs too. I just talked with my old workout/diet buddy and am encouraging her to come along with us – the support makes things so much easier and more fun.

  4. laurajean64

    I’ve never considered myself athletic, and was chosen last in every gym class pick. I don’t think kids should pick teams – it crushes the last-pick’s self-esteem. I’m impressed and inspired with your ambition! Keep it up!

  5. Teena in Toronto

    I always hated gym in school. Ha!

    I’m back on track tomorrow … yay!


  6. waistingtime

    And they don’t even call it “gym” anymore. Now it’s Physical Education. My son, almost 20, tells me someone finally wised up and they no longer let kids pick their own teams. Progress:)

  7. Sunny

    I added a feed/link in my side bar. 🙂

    and thanks!

  8. sunnydaze

    I totally agree that exercising is a great stress reliever and good for mental/spiritual health. When I started on my weight loss journey walking outdoors was (and still is) my exercise of choice. I loved being outdoors in the sunshine with the sun beating on my back, the wind against my face, just sorting my thoughts or letting my mind wander depending on what was going on in my life at the time. When other women started asking to walk with me I would kinda’ get miffed because I didn’t want them intruding on my “me” time. It’s almost like meditation to me. LOVE.IT.

  9. Pingback: Waisting Time , Archive » Insert Expletive Here

  10. Well, thanks for linking to this post. I did not know that you were a gym rat. And your MOM, lifting weights with you? How cool is that??

    • Karen

      Of course, I have not been to the gym in a while now. Except for my workouts with my mom. She is amazing. Hope I am like that at her age!

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