My Exercise Journey: Why I Stopped and Why I Came Back

This is not a decorating post. If you’ve followed for a while, you know I love talking lifestyle stuff. Family, faith, cooking, and well, a whole hodge podge of things. Mostly decorating, yes, but I like to talk about all the things. Especially if I think they’ll help or inspire you.

I wanted to talk about something today that I hope does just that. Something I think is important. Yet it’s something I’ve stopped doing for about 13 years now.

I’m talking exercise.

Let me backtrack for a minute. I used to be addicted to working out. And I’m not using that term as an exaggeration. I really was. I got WAY too skinny – to the point where I stopped getting my period and my boss and co-workers were coming to my classroom to make sure I was ok. I ate a lot, and thought I was on top of nourishing my body with what it needed, but I wasn’t.

I got up every single day at 5am and went to the gym. I would see one of my closest friends from high school there a lot, and it was always fun to work out with her.

In March of 2005 she passed away unexpectedly from a rare heart condition. To this day, it’s hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, and I couldn’t bring myself to go to that gym again.

I lost every last ounce of motivation to work out. Through her death, I realized how short life is, and I’d be darned if I was going to spend hours every day in a gym when I could spend that time with the people who meant the most to me. She wasn’t able to do that anymore, so I was going to do it for her. It was like avoiding the gym was one way I could honor my friend, if that makes sense.

In November of 2005, after a year and a half of absence, my period returned, and in December we found out we were pregnant. I’ll never forget falling to my knees when I took that pregnancy test – utter and complete shock, because I had really chalked the absence of my period that month to it going back to its wacky and disappearing self again like it had been for so long. It was the LAST thing I thought could happen. We had even gone to fertility classes to learn how to proceed with hormone shots and were going to start treatments that month.

My friend had absolutely loved kids, and with tears in my eyes as I type this, I have always believed she was working with the Big Guy upstairs to give me that positive pregnancy test. I know it in my heart, and I will thank her properly when we meet again.

I had my daughter, and was pregnant 9 months later. Had my second daughter, and was pregnant when she was 5 months old. Having three kids in three years, I rarely sat still, and said that was my exercise. It felt good to let that go. To not have my moods dictated by how many hours in a gym I got that day or how many pushups I did at night. To just live and chase babies and toddlers around all day and not think about it.

But lately – maybe it’s because I’ll be 40 soon – I’ve been wanting to be the best version I can be. I have this strong desire to be healthy for myself, my husband, my kids. I want to show them, especially my daughters, that exercise is not about losing weight or spending a million hours in a gym. It’s about so much more than that. I want to approach exercise with a healthy attitude for this season of my life.

This time around, I am doing it right. I have the wisdom that comes with age and life experience to know that it’s not about getting addicted and needing to go to the gym every single day. About a month ago, I made myself a promise to do just 20 minutes three times a week – doesn’t sound like much, but I know that amount is attainable – that is what I can fit in my schedule. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, like I used to believe. I haven’t missed a workout yet. I also walk Charlie for 45-60 minutes every day. He has really been such a kickstarter in all of this – I swear, it’s walking with him that really opened my eyes to that feeling of doing something good for yourself. I don’t mind taking him out, even when it was the dead of winter. My younger self wouldn’t have thought that way. She would’ve had to sweat profusely and have her muscles burning or wouldn’t have called it exercise.

My how my mindset has changed.

I guess what all this rambling about is this: if it’s been forever since you’ve exercised – or maybe it’s never been a part of your life – start today. Go for a ten minute walk. Just get moving. It’s so good for you, and you’ll be amazed how your outlook will change. Don’t set yourself up for failure – do what you can. I know my 20 minutes is not a lot, but it’s all I can do at this moment in time.  I sweat my butt off and it feels amazing when I’m done. Listen. I don’t even own a sports bra or a single piece of workout gear anymore (I gave them all away when I had a 1, 2, and 3 year old and decided WHO AM I KIDDING. I’m never going to have time ever again in my life), so I just hop on that elliptical in my basement, wearing pajamas and sneakers (looking so very glamorous, I might add), put on my HGTV and have a love/hate relationship with life for those 20 minutes.

Yes. Those are pajamas. See, I wasn’t lying. 😉 Also, note Charlie’s feet up on the couch snoozing – I’m dying.

And when it’s a workout day and I haven’t had time to hop on the machine all day and I’m about to make an excuse because it’s 8:30pm and I really wanna just want to sit on the couch and maybe make a big bowl of ice cream, I say this to myself:

SELF: First of all, it’s TWENTY. MINUTES. You can do anything for twenty minutes. Also, you are showing your children a good example of treating your body well and not giving up on your promises to yourself. You are teaching them that it’s not about being a size 0 or addicted to working out or any of that other stuff you used to believe. But that through loss and life, you have learned that you want to exercise for the most important reason: because it’s important to be good to your body. It’s the only one you’ve got.

Ok, ok, so I don’t really talk to myself like that, but I do believe every single word.

I hope you do too.

And when you’re done that workout, go fill up a monstrous sized cup of water, drink it, hop in the shower and feel good that you are already on your way to becoming your best self.

Remember – those little ones are watching. They’re looking up TO YOU to show them the way. If they see a red faced mama with sweat dripping and a huge smile on her face, or a mama who loves to get outside and chooses the long way home walking the dog, or a mama who is comfortable in her skin because she treats her body well, then they’ll know exercise is and should be a healthy part of life.

I only wish it didn’t take me this long to show them this. But then again, maybe it took me this long to really learn it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I love your blogs…….thank you

  2. Pam Lerczak says:

    Such a great read!!! At 59 I’m finally learning how important exercise is to your well being. My husband & I recently retired & got a bit lazy. We are now riding our bikes, walking more & eating healthier! Feels so good! You are a great inspiration to your kids!

    • Good for you!! That’s fantastic! It does feel so good when we treat our bodies well! Thanks so much for your sweet comment:)

  3. Lynette says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. That’s devastating. But I’m glad you started exercising again. Athletics was a huge part of my life for 20 years and when I had kids I stopped exercising. I did on and off but I wasn’t making it a priority. Too tired/didn’t have time/excuses, excuses. I just started working out consistently about 2 months ago and eating healthier and I feel great! I’m doing something for me and that feels so so good. And you’re totally right… those little ones are always watching!

    • Thank you so much, Lynette. It was devastating and the darkest time in my life for sure. But I know we will meet again!
      That’s awesome that you got back into exercising – good for you!! It does feel really great to be good to ourselves!:) Thanks for writing!

  4. Thanks for the encouraging words, Liz! I too, have rediscovered motivation to exercise and realize how good I feel after doing it. Setting aside time that you know is attainable is key and has helped me stay on track.

    • That’s awesome, Stacie! Good for you! Exactly right – it really helps keep us on track when we are honest with how much time we can commit to! Thanks for sharing:)

  5. melanie kelly says:

    <3

  6. Candy Fellers says:

    I love your blog! Good for you….and your family and dog!

  7. Words fail me. Well said Liz💜

    • Thank you, Mrs. Brenda. I miss B so…I think of her all the time. I know in my heart and believe she is looking out for all of us! <3

  8. Cindy Johnson says:

    Liz, I absolutely love the way you compose a blog!! I so wish I could take a casual walk. With my leg issues due to the accident I was in make it difficult to do so. And now I Have a partially torn Achilles strained☹️. When I’m (if ever) sorta back to “normal “ – Brandon suggested low impact yoga. When I feel better I am going to look into a yoga class. You spire me – my beautiful cousin!!💜

    • Cindy Johnson says:

      That was supposed to write YOU INSPIRE ME!! Typo😕Love you!!

    • Aw, thank you, Cin! I’m so sorry you’ve had such a time with your health stuff:( Yes, low impact yoga would be great! Sending prayers for healing!! Love you!

  9. It’s been a busy week so just catching up on your blog. Such an inspiring post! While losing your friend had to be so very hard, it’s almost as if she guided you thru these year; 1. take a break, 2. have babies, 3. get strong again, 4. bring Charlie into your life to give you a kickstart and now you can inspire your children by being a healthy mama! And showing them that even with your health issues that it’s important to keep your body strong. Great job Liz!

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