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How Much Is Too Much?

I’ve been diligently exercising lately, primarily due to the fact that it always helps me get back on track. I’m not sure whether I get a bigger pay off from physical calories burned or emotional toxins released.

While I was in France I boosted my activity. I needed to exercise since my food consumption increased – it was a simple math equation. Most evenings when we returned home, I rode my host family’s exercise bike. That isn’t much different than every day here except for one minor detail – I was walking at least seven miles a day, and sometimes up to 10.

Well, I’m home safe and sound, but I’m not prepared to walk 10 miles a day and go to the office and workout on a stationary bike or elliptical machine and take care of household chores, but it did get me thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors while in France. I enjoyed the fresh air, and I came home calm and relaxed. I release a lot of negative energy and unwind when I walk, especially when I walk alone.

There was a time when I would have never dreamed about taking a walk by myself. Now I like it. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoy the company of a walking buddy, but it is a different experience entirely when I walk by myself.

I didn’t work yesterday so I enjoyed some solitude outside, and the weather was spectacular! The sun was shining and the sky was big, open and blue. I noticed critters as I walked – I love the throaty sound the ducks make when they waddle by in search of a springtime mate, and I appreciated all the trees getting ready to burst with the spring green. I came home refreshed and at peace.

I enjoyed a leisurely walk because I had already “worked out” on my stationary bike. I figured I needed all the help I could get since I’ve been trying to regroup from my relapse earlier in the week. It occurred to me while I was outside that I’ve been missing the sun and extended daylight hours. Winter takes its toll on me so I’m glad that spring seems to be on its way! Keeping active in this way works for me.

I have some friends who exercise a lot, and they try lots of new things to keep it interesting. I like hearing about their adventures, but sometimes I get winded just learning about their regimens. I respect people who put such energy into fitness programs, but I think I lack the commitment to be what I consider “hard core.”

I have decided that I’m going to revisit the idea of incorporating the recommended 10,000 steps with my regular exercise (40-45 minutes of cardio, five to seven days a week). The interesting thing is that at another point in my life, I would have believed this to be hard core. Funny how things change.

What is most important is movement. If you are a total couch potato, perhaps getting up to change the channel on the TV can be enough to begin. I began slowly…very slowly, seven minutes, twice a week on a stationary bike was all I could manage. I wish I could say I enjoyed exercise now, but I at least see the benefit so I keep going at a moderate pace.

I’m interested to hear what others do to keep active…care to share?


6 Responses

  1. Your blog is inspirational. It gives hope to those who are currently feeling that exercising regularly is impossible.


  2. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Go easy on yourself with exercise. I would have never dreamed that I would have managed to incorporate it into my life on a regular basis…the interesting thing I find now is that the more I do it, the more time I have for other things. I think the key is to find something you can at least tolerate for a brief amount of time to get a habit started. For a long time, walking with a buddy was what I did because that didn’t feel like exercise, but it helped me to develop the habit. Good luck!

  3. I’m totally one of those who love to exercise. But, I lose my drive when I don’t see the results. I start asking, “why do I even bother?” I am always trying to re-focus my mental game on the “other” benefits of exercise. For me, those benefits include: mental space, relaxation, time where I am not in charge of anything or anyone (step aerobics anyone?), mood improvement, sense of accomplishment, dance movement (where else can you move your body to a choreographed 8 count rhythym?), enjoyment of nature on a sunny day, and me-time. Sometimes, these other motivations keep me wanting to stick with the exercise even when I don’t feel like it.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with your ideas of looking for other benefits to exercise! I firmly believe that I get as much emotional benefit from sweating as I do the physical payoff. I may not always enjoy it, but I see such huge results emotionally and physically that it is worth the effort!

  5. It’s possible that we are the “hardcore” friends that Melissa is referring to. What she doesn’t realize is that we are lifelong members of “Couch Potatoes Anonymous”, and I’m a mental cupcake when it comes to enduring exercise hardship.

    For us, we have to summon the willpower to get moving with regular exercise, and then it has to be habitual for me to maintain that momentum. If not, I’m only 3-4 days away from mental despair and active couch potato status, then the agonizing mental process to re-engage must start all over.

    I suffer from another curse… I require variety. Workouts, active recreation (e.g. scuba, hiking, weights, cycling, etc), it all has to feel fresh and fun to me to maintain my interest level…. or again… I grow bored… talk myself out of working out… then one day turns into two and the next thing I know I’ve re-activated my CP status.

    So… I would encourage everyone to find something that they have fun doing. As others have said, when it doesn’t feel like exercise, it can go a lot better. I’m also blessed with a partner that is willing to do these things with me, and help motivate me. If you can find someone to participate with, it can also be good mutual motivation.

    Bob (and Penny)

  6. Yep! You provided a little food for thought on this post. Whether it’s hard core or reformed couch potato, it inspires me that you and Penny exhibit such dedication to work out. I may be a bit chicken, but I also have figured out that the key is to get moving in whatever form that takes!

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