Get a Move On!!! Part Three: The dreaded “E” word

*NOTE: To all of you who are just joining us on this weeklong post about weight loss. You may want to scroll down to the last few posts for my before and after pictures and to get caught up on what we are covering this week.

*ALSO: I want to give a shout out to you gals who made your way to this site by linking from the interview with me atwww.firstimpressionsbaby.com. Welcome!!!! Feel free to peek around and leave a comment.

I have to be honest with you. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I hate to run. I hate to sweat. I hate to exert force to lift weights. I can’t stand spandex and I absolutely loathe the atmosphere and the smell of gyms. I know, I know…it sounds as if I have a hate-hate relationship with exercise. So let me tell you the ONLY thing I love about exercise.

The way I feel when I am done.

I feel clear-headed. I feel younger. I feel as if I can meet life’s challenges with renewed energy. And I feel totally tired, yet strangely refreshed.

But, I still start off hating it EVERY DAY!!!!!!!

When I first began my weight loss journey, I was in such dire shape that I could hardly walk a city block. My knee harbored constant pain from a torn meniscus. Just bending and straightening it made tears well up in my eyes. I remember crying at night and praying to God, begging Him to take away my pain. I also had a bad case of bursitis in my opposite heel that was also agonizing. I promised God that if He’d just make the pain go away, I would start to exercise and lose my excess weight.

Alas, the persistent pain remained. And it was all my fault. My mother-in-love often tells her kids and grandkids “You are the sum of your choices” a quote from someone famous in the past. Whom, I’m not exactly sure. Well, it was true for me. The sum of my choices added up to one big overweight and out-of-shape mommy mess.

Medical tests and MRI’s showed that my torn meniscus was not healing on its own. And the doctors said it would probably never heal as long as I sported too much weight on my small frame. (I am 5 foot 5, have a small frame with tiny wrists and a size 4 wedding band and yet I weighed nearly 250 pounds!!!!) My doctor isn’t quick to pop a pill for every ailment, but he saw no other way out of my severe discomfort as long as I remained obese. So I was prescribed pain meds for my knee. I took the script home, but didn’t fill it. I didn’t want a pill to mask my pain and prevent me from getting to the root of my issue.

So I had no choice. I had to start to lose weight and attempt to exercise while in pain. Our local hospital has a rehab center (where I was going for physical therapy on my knee) that is clean, professional and full of great equipment. It does not at all have an atmosphere of a regular gym with raunchy music, scantily-clad co-eds and mid-life crisis-ers trying to pick each other up (yuck!!) It is a place where sweet senior citizens try to recover from a stoke or regular folks attempt to rehabilitate after an injury. I found out that this rehab center also sold year memberships—at a very low cost—to the public.(And, they have flat screen TVs on the treadmills and ellipticals. That is a plus to this live-in-the-country-with-only-bunny-ears-on-my-non-cable-TV-gal. I could exercise AND watch FOX news channel. Yippee!!)

So, I signed on the dotted line. I got my doctor’s permission. (Required by the rehab center since I was so obese. That was embarrassing) I donned a pair of BIG sweats (the ones Pat Robertson held up during my 700 Club interview) and hopped….er….um…carefully climbed on the elliptical machine. I began to operate it at a steady pace and went as long as my little heart could stand it. When the sweat beaded up on my brow and I thought my heart would surely pound out of my chest, I stopped. I looked down at the timer on the elliptical.

I had exercised a full 2 ½ mintues.

Ugh!!!! I wanted to quit. I wanted to cry. I wanted to eat an entire bag of Chips Ahoy Coconut Cookies. I knew I was too far gone; destined to be forever fat.

But people, in my mind I saw the sweet faces of my children and the concerned eyes of my wonderful, loving and accepting husband. (He never once made a crack, let alone a comment, about my weight. He tells me now that he was concerned for my health, but he never made me feel unattractive. He is a gem!!!) As I thought of them, I knew I didn’t want to leave this earth due to my choices and render them motherless.

So I kept going. I strolled over to the treadmill. I slowly walked on it until my knee hurt so badly I wanted to cry.

Yep. You guessed it. I only lasted 4 minutes. At a pace of about 2 miles an hour. That means it would have taken me a half hour to walk a mile. Not exactly record breaking speed.

Tuckered out and tired, I decided to stop the aerobics and switch to weight training. I sloppily used a machine or two, trying to appear that I knew what I was doing. I did not. One of the sweet workers at the center showed me how to properly use two machines; one that worked your arms (gotta get rid of that teacher flab—you know, the stuff that jiggles on your upper arms when you write on a chalkboard) and one that worked your legs. I used those machines for about 5 minutes each.

Then, my workout was over. In a grand total of about 18 minutes.

Not a workout to write home about. But it was a start. And, I felt I had passed a HUGE hurdle when it was over.

After that first day, I continued to go to the workout center as often as I could fit it in. Sometimes I went 6 times a week. Sometimes I went 3. Always I tried to do one of two things:

Go further than the day before: (meaning, if I had gone for 15 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 miles an hour, the next day I went for 16 minutes, covering a longer distance.)

Or, go faster than the day before: (meaning, if I had gone for 15 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 miles per hour, the next day I went for 15 minutes again, but at 2.6 miles per hour.)

Baby steps. But they added up. After losing the weight (106 pounds) in those 10 ½ months, I had worked up to walking 2 to 2 ½ miles at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour. (At that pace, I was now covering a mile in just over 17 minutes, not a half hour like when I first began. God had allowed me to cut my time nearly in half!)

Then one day, several months into my maintenance, He told me to run.

What!?!?! I had never, I mean NEVER run an entire mile in my life. Once, we had to run a mile for time in my personal fitness class in college. My friend Kari and I trotted for two of the quarter mile laps and walked for the rest; completely out of breath; feeling like I was going to up-chuck; weary and nearly fainting. That was when I was 20. I was now 43. How on earth could I run? It was more than I dared to hope for.

But God whispered to me. “Karen, today is the day. Just run. Remember the verse on that plaque in your high school youth pastor’s office? ”

“..but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

So that day last spring, when I got on the treadmill, I cranked the speed up to what was running for me. It was a pace of 3.7 miles per hour. (covering a mile in 16.21 minutes—again, not exactly break-neck speed!!) I told myself I would run ‘til I couldn’t run anymore and then I’d crank it back down to a fast walking speed.

To my amazement the readout showed that I’d made it ¼ mile. I began to get a little winded.

Then it read ½ mile. I was huffing by then. But I kept going.

I couldn’t believe it when I passed ¾ mile. This was further than I’d run in college.

Then, it happened.

Breathing hard, but not faint. The digital readout flashed the wonderful news “1.00 miles covered.”

I instantly began to cry.

Sure, people stared. Some thought I was upset about something. No one there would have guessed they were tears of joy. Okay, so the rehab center director did get the picture when later I told her what happened. She congratulated me like I’d just won the Boston Marathon!! Then, she threw me for a loop. She said, “Let me know when you reach the two mile mark!”

What? Come on lady. You’re talking nonsense! Someone must have slipped something in your water bottle! I could NEVER run two miles. I wasn’t even sure I’d ever be able to do a mile again.

But God had other plans. I continued my “go further or faster” routine. Long story short. I can now run 2 to 2 ½ miles at a time at a pace of 4.5 miles per hour. That means I now cover a mile in just over 13 minutes!!!!! And I try to do it 3-4 times a week.

Please, I DO NOT tell you any of this to boast!!! I tell it to offer you hope. If God can take this former couch potato (and potato chip popper) and transform her into a wanna-be-middle-aged-trotter who can now run non-stop for over a half hour, He can do it for you too! My goal now is to work up to running a 5K (3.1 miles) and run it in honor of my sister-in-love who is a breast cancer survivor.

In addition to running (or sometimes going on the elliptical for a half hour) I also do weight training about 4 days a week for 20-30 minutes. I have learned so much about muscle burning more calories at rest than fat does and the importance of weight bearing exercise in the prevention of osteoporosis. And I know from experience that when I am at a flabby weight or at the same weight yet toned, I am a smaller size, although the scale reads the same! In fact, once I lost the 106 pounds, I began to add weight training at a more serious level. Last summer I dropped one more pants size although the scale virtually stayed the same.

And please, if finances are an issue…know this, I also run on my road and I bought a set of free weights (3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 pounds) at a yard sale for 10 bucks. Often I exercise and run without it costing me a cent. If I don’t need to go to town or don’t have time, I do it the old fashioned way! I could do it only this way if I can’t afford a membership at the rehab center.

Finally, if you get nothing else out of this long winded post, get this:

Do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. It matters. The next day, do the same thing, or do a little more. If you do not give up and add time or distance or weights a little at a time, you too can learn to have a love/hate relationship with exercise. In fact, I will admit to you that you could even say that I am now addicted to my daily workout.

And I never thought it was possible to be addicted to anything other than chocolate, chips, cheese and ice cream.

Glory to God!!!!

Sweet sweating and weight-swinging blessings,

Karen

*Now your turn…How do you work exercise into your busy day? Or what excuses do you have for not moving more? What do you think would be some baby step goals for you when it comes to exercise? Leave us a comment on any of these topics or something else that has to do with exercise.

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14 Comments

  1. Karen I want to “Thank You” for your blog. I have been dealing with my weight my whole life. I started WW in January and I have lost 40lbs to date however the past 2 months I have been lost. I gain 1 week and loose the next. I quit working out because I thought whats the point. I have lots more to loose. I have been praying to start back up in high gear. Well, he answered me by sending me to your blog. Thank you so much!

  2. Hello-
    Well, I’ve got some advice for those who DREAD exercise. I was never athletic, or so I thought, until I gave exercise a try 2 years ago. I dreaded the thought of the gym. I didn’t know how to use those scary machines. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve lost the weight, thanks to God, at home! I’ve found that I LOVE kickboxing, dancing and riding my bike outside.

    My first advice is: FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO. FORCE YOURSELF TO DO IT ONCE. Then, make yourself do it again. Soon it will become a habit. I get up at least 30 minutes earlier than I’d have to for work. I do it when it’s still dark, and do you know what? I feel AWESOME when I’m done! So will you!! Also, through God’s word and some motivation from Denise Austin, I finally believe that I AM worth it! I deserve to ‘look and feel great’!

    What I’m working on now is not comparing myself to anyone, not even my identical twin sister. It’s hard, but each of us has different body shapes and there is no ‘perfect’ body out there, no matter what the pictures look like in magazines.

    This may sound harsh, but I include myself in this: too many people want the “easy” way out. Why else would there be so many diet supplements out there? I’ve found that exercise and eating in moderation is truly the way. Don’t put anything in your body that wasn’t meant to be there; who knows what’s in those diet pills or supplements? Please feel free to ask any questions. I’ve been successful by buying dvds, renting them at the library and from Netflix.

    My second piece of advice is: DON’T GIVE UP! PLEASE, PLEASE, KEEP GOING! When you feel like falling over, giving up, vomiting…that’s when change is happening! Drink lots of water!! When you begin to see muscles form in your arms, boy will that be motivation! Lift weights, begin with 3lbs if you have to. Yes, turn a deaf ear to any negative thoughts, comments and turn to the WORD. What does God say about you? You ARE precious, and HE delights in you! Start TODAY–after you are done reading this!! :) YOU CAN DO IT! I believe in you.

    –Amy V.

  3. I dreamed all my life of owning horses. I had no idea how horses now at home. Sure, riding is exercise, too, but what REALLY is exercise is all that goes into having horses! All the gravel that needs to be wheelbarrowed and shoveled. All the fence posts that need to be hauled around, not to mention the holes dug for those posts. The trimming of horse feet (major exercise there) and doing ground work with the horses definitely involves exercise. I feed them all over the acre forested hillside pasture they have, carrying hay around in a big bucket, spreading it, climbing around the hill (pretty steep) 2 or 3 times a day. Having my lifelong dream come true of having horses has motivated me as never before…I don’t even notice how active I am being, but I am! Yay! Here is the exercise video I made. LOL!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Qcp1yJ67Y

    Moving around CAN be fun! It should be! :-)

  4. I always feel better when I exercise, but I have a hard time sticking with it. After a few weeks, it seems I get busy and exercise gets set aside. I want to make exercise a habit, so I am going to set a goal to exercise and make it a priority in my life. Thanks Karen for your story and all of your tips. I am impressed that you run, I’m not sure I could do that.

    Deb – Ohio

  5. I have a hard time exercising because i actually feel worse afterwards. I borrowed a treadmill but it seems to give me motion sickness (for some reason). Walking is the only exercise i can do but at the moment i’m too tied up to find the time. Any suggestions would be great here.

  6. Thanks for the idea of going farther or faster each day. I have tried exercise in the past, but always end up getting some injury. I am now in prayer that God will protect me from injury as I can exercise.

  7. Thank you so much for these blog entries about loosing weight and getting in shape. I eagerly wait each morning to read the next issue. I had decided last week that I had to do something about my health. What timing God has when I got the devotional in my inbox!
    I started walking last week. Each day I go farther. Adding prayer to my daily fight to be healthy has helped so much. I keep thinking about all the fun things I can do with my kids when I can move more freely, free of my extra weight!
    God Bless you!

  8. Your story is so wonderful to hear! I just love it! Because I don’t have as much to loose (I did that a couple of years ago but 10 pounds have crept back on so I have to get them off) and because I’m blessed to work only part time and hours that fit into my schedule I work out in the morning after my son is at school. I work out at home with some awesome DVD’s and love every sweat drenched moment of it.

    It really is fantastic to feel my body transforming again. It gives me much hope that the end is in sight soon!

  9. Four years ago I lost 55 pounds by eating right and walking almost every day…now the weight is back…because I stopped caring for myself. Your posts are encouraging to me to get back to eating right and walking again! Thanks!

  10. Exercise is not my issue. I’ve been an exerciser since my youth…probably the sole reason I’m not bigger then I am. I love to run (3 days a week) and on alternate days I walking and weights. Now…all this being said, it doesn’t show too well on me. It’s maintaining where I’m at, so something’s got to change. When you said the other day, move more…eat less, it just made sense to me. I’ve heard it before, but now I’m going to do it.

    I can’t do programs (counting and measuring is too controlled for me), so I’m going with this simple philosophy.

    I love that you’re doing this. Keep it coming. I’m on board.

    peace`elaine

  11. Karen, thank you for honesty and humor! It’s been a joy to read your blog this week. But, most importantly, Thank you God for leading me to this blog at just the right time. “I hear you, Lord”!!
    Blessings!!

  12. Thanks again, Karen for your tips and more good scripture to meditate on. I also loved:
    1. your reminder about how good you feel AFTER you exercise! and
    2. what you said about picturing the faces of your sweet family to inspire you to keep going!
    Is it not so cool how God is using your past struggles to help others with theirs?
    Have a blessed day!
    Amy

  13. Karen: You are blessing my socks off! Thank you for taking the time to write these blogs. I’m 40 something and I have a 4 year old. My health is terrible and I have two bad feet. The biggest issue to me is that I’m the Christian Ed director at our church and I can’t be on fire for Jesus the way I want to because I’m too out of shape. I think about all the energetic things I could do with a smaller body. After reading your blog and another story in the latest Guideposts, I’ve decided that God is calling me back to Weight Watchers. It’s a great program. Did you rely on any online support groups or just the personal support of friends? Thanks for all you’re doing. God bless you!

  14. Exercise has been a bad word to me for a long, long time. I keep saying, “I’ll change my eating habits & lose weight, THEN I’ll exercise”. But I know I’m just finding another excuse to put it off. I need to just kick myself in the butt & do it! Thank you for another inspiring post!

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