I actually (kind of) like to exercise. I like the way I feel after I’m done, mostly. But I sometimes also like the way I feel when I’m pushing my body to go beyond its normal physical capacity. Because often, I am prone to get wound up tighter than a piece of string my kids twist around their finger to see just how purple and swollen it can get from a lack of blood flow. For me, exercise helps to alleviate that pressure.
I tend to bottle things up and then one day I just explode. Usually over virtually nothing too… It could be the fact that my daughter left her shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor – again. Or it could be that I’m out of kalamata olives and I really wanted Greek salad for lunch. Then again, it could be that the oven and microwave just died – the month after the alternator in my car died – and I’m looking at really stretching the budget for yet another couple months. But 9 times out of 10 it’s an incredibly dumb reason.
So to hijack that mood before it strikes, I exercise. When I exercise, I can literally feel the stress melt from my body. During a run, or while my arms are shaking from push-up overload, when I’m all sweaty and red in the face, I just feel like I’ll be a sane and level-headed human being, for at least that day. And that’s why I exercise.
True, I also exercise so I can eat what I want to eat, but that’s not the primary reason. Honest.
In full confessional mode here, when I was growing up, my parents owned a couple of fitness centers. From the time I was 12 until after college, it was just a normal thing for me to hang around sweaty people who wanted to be like Jane Fonda and “feel the burn.” Once I was old enough, I worked for my parents. And because I worked for them, like every other employee, I was required to work out so I could understand what the members’ exercise concerns were. Working out was just de rigueur for me. I also grew up in Florida, where everyone was always outside doing something physical. Playing tennis, water skiing, or riding bikes to get to the park. Something. Anything.
My point is: I was always a pretty exercise-y kind of girl.
But when we moved to the mountains of Appalachia, I experienced full-on culture shock and I stopped moving. In complete isolation from my previous life in suburbia, I could barely manage more than lifting the laundry out of the washer. Add to this three children under 7, not knowing another soul, living in the middle of nowhere, and the particular kind of solitude experienced by homeschooling, the bottom began drop to out. My bottom. Literally. After about 6 months of a huge pity party, and increasingly tight waistbands, I decided to figure out some way to readjust me to be a better self.
I saw an infomercial for Billy Blanks’ Tae-Bo and ordered it pronto. It helped. The world was filled with small bunnies, four leaf clovers, and bathed in the golden light of happiness and world peace. Not really, but my attitude changed immensely. Conversely, my body became less voluminous. Which helped even more to change my attitude…
Eventually, Tae-Bo led to running, running led to yoga, all of which led me to embrace an active lifestyle. I had one when I was in Florida, but I was active because that was just life. Here though, I’m active because I need to be active. I crave the physicality of exercise.
I finally have an antidote for my mean-mommy pms-ing days. It’s exercise. And on my non- pms-ing days? Well, then the world is filled with soft, fluffy bunnies, fields of four leaf clovers, happiness, world peace, and goodwill to all mankind.