I sail! I’m a sailor! OK, I’m not really a sailor, but these words of Bob Wiley from the movie “What About Bob?” are regularly used around my house whenever a new activity is started or a new skill is learned, such as “I quilt! I’m a quilter!”
Actually, there are a lot of lines from that movie that have found their way into our family’s repertoire. It’s an older movie, but if you’re even the least bit
neurotic “interesting” you need to watch it. And if you’re perfectly “normal” and never have any issues at all with anything in your mind – ie. fear, anxiety, depression, OCD – you MUST watch it because it will enlighten you as to the daily life struggles of probably everyone around you in your “perfect” world, which will also help you to see that no one is perfectly “normal.” But I digress …
I walk. I’m a walker. This means that I regularly drag my butt outside – even when it’s getting hotter in the mornings (although I try to go earlier and earlier to avoid those temps) and even when it’s cold or slightly raining – and walk for a specified amount of time. Every day. I do it because I NEED to do it. Every other activity that I enjoy and spend hours engaged in, whether it’s sewing, quilting, paper crafting, writing, or any other pastime of a creative and thoughtful introvert, is sedentary. I want to maintain my mobility despite my age and continued aging, and because I’m middle-aged some things are already becoming a pain in the neck (back, legs, knees, hips, feet, bunions etc.). I no longer have children to chase after, I don’t work outside my home anymore as the promotion and selling of my handmade items is all done from the comfort of home, and I have to force myself to move throughout the day for more than just a few minutes here and there going from one room to the other to find a needle or a seam ripper.
And I’ve come to the point where I actually want to walk. It’s a strange combination, this wanting to go do something that I know is going to make me hurt in various places and wishing I didn’t have to do it but still feeling driven to get myself out there. However, this wanting to walk thing is only about my actual morning power walk. It has a definite purpose for me. I’m not a leisure walker; I can do it if I have to, but I don’t often choose it.
I don’t like exercise. It’s generally boring, it makes me sweat (anyone who read the post about summer heat will know that being hot and sweaty is something that can turn me into a miserable b–ch) and at this point I don’t even get a lot of results on the scale from doing it because once middle age hits, our bodies seem to think we’re doing all this moving just for fun and we aren’t really expecting anything more.
But as much as it hurts and takes away time from other things I’d rather be doing, it has started to make me feel better about myself. It gets my circulation going first thing in the morning, it apparently releases good hormones (which is a good thing because there are a lot of other not-so-good hormonal experiences starting up at this age too), and it reminds me every day that I want to be able to move for as long as I can move, and the only way to make that happen is to persevere now. It makes me feel better about myself because I’m sticking with something that’s good for me, I’m committed to ME.
I’ve been asked how often I walk and when I go, and I am immediately thinking “is this person going to ask me if they can walk with me?” Some people find it easier to have a walking buddy because it motivates them and keeps them committed. I see these twosomes once in a while, engaged in animated conversation while power walking around town. I’m not that kind of walker. I’m a stick the headphones in and crank up the tunes to pass this mundane and pain inducing activity as quickly as possible on my own schedule kind of walker. I do often meet up with my daughter part way around and she walks with me for a short time before work, and we chat a bit as we go just to check in with each other’s plans for the day, but she is the person I can text whenever I want to, as early as I want to because we’re both awake in the wee hours, and say “I’m leaving now, are you walking?” She’s a runner, so it’s not like she depends on me for her routine and if she misses a day here and there I’m cool with that. So that’s as much of a walking schedule commitment as I can handle.
I am committed to going every day, though, first thing in the morning before I do anything else. I know myself well enough to know that if I get involved in another activity, I will put off the walking and either 1) not do it at all that day and end up feeling like a lazy slug, or 2) succumb to the guilt trip I take myself on and go later in the day when it’s hotter and much more difficult just to silence the reprimanding voice in my head. I also like the idea of getting it done and out of the way so that for the rest of the day, no matter what I do or don’t do, I have taken care of my need to deliberately move.
I’ve been watching my runner daughter find all kinds of colourful and useful clothing and gear and I’ve been almost jealous because just seeing all the cool stuff makes me want to be one of these people who actually needs it! I’ve always wondered why companies make clothes for plus sized women in neon colors that scream “look over here at this bulging roll!” Like, don’t they realize that we already draw enough attention, especially when we are MOVING?
When I started walking I decided I would be frugal and just wear comfy clothing, which works perfectly fine for the walking part. But as it got warmer and I got more committed, I decided I needed something cooler, like maybe a tank top (I never wear one of these in public so it was a stretch, but sure made a difference in staying cool!) and some sporty capris. I dared to try wearing such far out items and I have to say that just having some simple stuff that makes you look and feel more appropriately dressed for whatever your exercise of choice is, does make it more tolerable, more comfortable, and more fun. I can’t do the cute shoes – I have fallen arches, a bunion, and uneven legs so the left shoe of any pair I buy always needs to be built up by a shoemaker. But thankfully, even my SAS shoes come in a comfy running shoe that included a set of rainbow laces should I ever feel the need to draw attention away from my body and down to my feet.
Don’t be looking for me out there, it isn’t pretty. And I’m not posting any pictures of me all decked out and ready to face the task. But if you see an overweight middle aged woman hoofing it around town with headphones in, look past the bright coloured tank top with the flabby jiggles and know that at least she’s trying. We all have to start somewhere!
What new activity have you started recently?