One of the mandates to come out of my recent dance with Hashimoto’s (and the ongoing run-in with menopause) is to practice some sort of regular exercise. You might as well have asked me to do an exorcism. In fact, I’d be far more comfortable expelling evil spirits out of my body than tying on a pair of running shoes.
My claim to fame in college was that I owned no athletic garb of any kind, and the only sneakers in my possession were worn while working in the cafeteria dishroom, dispensing an odor that outstripped the puny scent of gym socks by a mile. Imagine the irony when I would later go on to finish typing an English master’s thesis in my husband’s athletic department office to the din of bouncing basketballs.
Over the years, I’ve tried, truly I have. I’ve climbed stairs given the choice, jogged my way up to three miles a day with the help of STP and Live on the Walkman, taken aerobic, step, zumba and fairly vigorous yoga classes. In an attempt to find out my body fat percentage, why I even joined a gym in the ’90s.
As a result, I lost twenty pounds and gained body fat. Now tell me how that is possible, oh Great Spirit of Jack LaLanne or any other tank-topped TV fitness guru? Guess my eastern european fat cells thought I was preparing for famine. I also couldn’t sleep at night because the evening classes revved me up too much to fall into bed unconscious. As a stay-at-home mom, mornings were out of the question since I didn’t enjoy watching my young daughter pantomime a screaming fit through the soundproof glass of the gym’s nursery.
Then there was the throwing of my husband’s hard-earned fitness stipends toward exercise equipment for the home, considering we were obviously too lazy to venture out into the recreational wilderness. The only stipulation being that any machines caught wearing an entire year’s worth of laundry for drying, ironing or mending purposes would be expelled from the property.
So, sure enough, after hanging up our hats (and coats, pants, shirts, not to mention underwear) on our good intentions, we waved goodbye to the deluxe stationary bike with heart monitor and clip-on tracking sensor, along with a very nice treadmill featuring handrails, timer, heart-rate monitor, mileage counter and a good coating of pet hair.
With our visible guilt-triggers banished (and now room for a foosball table!), I wasn’t left a lot of options. There was a brief fling with hand weights and how-to videos, virtuous printouts of sun salutations (promising myself extra time in corpse pose), bribes in the form of lavender-scented, rice-filled eye pillows and waffle-patterned mats in a pretty shade of orchid, as well as stylin’ yoga hoodies and jingling zumba hip scarves.
But what do I always come back to? The good old-fashioned neighborhood stroll. A sweet and simple standby of bygone days. Except I need to shift up a few gears to a faster heartbeat if I want to burn off the Cadbury I just wolfed down when the Easter Bunny wasn’t looking. Nascar I ain’t, but I can sure walk the talk with a minimum of requirements.
All I need is a will, a way, forgiving lycra, the wind at my back and a reasonably dry day. And my old Nano full of rocking tunes. (Okay, I know I should be all zen and one with nature without musical stimulation but I move faster to the unearthly wailing of longhaired bad boys.)
Oh, and let’s not forget the active footwear. Where are those baby pink Keds of my youth when I need them?