Exercise and I

I have an ambivalent relationship with regular physical exercise. I love my clothes and if I stay true to my slacker tendencies I can barely fit into them. So exercise is a must. Over the years I have adopted several strategies to include regularly some sort of physical activity into my weekly schedule. Dieting never worked for me. As I have a relatively healthy diet, neglecting 5 portions of fruits and vegetables have never been an issue. Through my experiments with exercising I have come to understand that it is just something a person needs to do, to function properly in your daily life.

I am an indulgent eater and drinker. By drinker, I mean I love my smoothies, and shakes. I also enjoy the occasional soft drinks. I enjoy my cakes, cookies and South Asian delicacies.  As for the salty snacks, I have a weakness for Doritos, Pringles and crisps in general.

Since I eat home cooked food, I am safe from the effects of artificial sweeteners, flavouring, and preservatives. Processed meats are hardly ever on the menu, however, once in a blue moon I might buy a pack of chicken sausages to keep in the freezer, just in case I crave salty fats. They are easily mixed into a pasta dish and make a nice pizza topping.

I buy store bought cookies and cakes now and then. Yet, baking cakes and cookies myself is healthier, even though they are made with real butter or oil, chocolate, marzipan or golden syrup. They also taste much better than a cake made with palm oil, corn syrup, artificial flavourings, sweeteners and preservatives. In a nutshell, food and drink are my extravagant drug addiction. Unfortunately, it is an extravagance that is bound towards obesity, enhanced with anti-oxidants and healthy bowel movements, rather than the sought after weight loss.

Unable to reduce my intake of  mostly home made goodies, the only recourse I have to continue enjoying my drugs, and stay alive and healthy is some form of cardio excercise. I have still to gather my nerves of steel to include a little weight training. I have tried walking on the treadmill with 1kg dumbbells in each hand. For some reason my arms were more active without the dumbbells, so I stopped using them.

Over the years, I have struggled with staying physically fit. My exercise regimen is haphazard and the usual reasons for staying fit seem to have little effect on me. Consequently, as with many other things, I have had to re-evaluate my relationship with regular physical activity  and create different reasons which more or less work for me to stay active and healthy.

It is easy to get bored with anything and everything. It requires much effort and dedication to stay healthy. In the end it boils down to one question: how much do you really care about yourself? In connection with good health, you can control what you eat, your portion sizes and the frequency of sweets and snacks. Regarding staying fit, you are also in control of your activity levels. A gym membership and fancy gym wear are unnecessary. You only need a pair of comfortable shoes. Outdoor walking is the best excercise. If nothing else, you will get some fresh air and explore places. Gradually you will realise photo opportunities and you start carrying either a phone or a point and shoot camera, and begin taking pictures. In other words, spontaneous walking can lead to other adventures and interests. Thus, as you engage in some sort of physical activity at least 3 times a week for 1 hour, there are bound to be some positive changes.

While weight loss is the long term aim, I have noticed when I exercise regularly, I sleep better and I have more energy. Moreover, I drink more water so I am less dehydrated than when I skip an exercise session. Most importantly, I feel less guilty about eating. Furthermore, exercising helps getting my creative juices flowing whenever I am stuck or unable to just get something done. Hence, it helps me focus on the things I have to get done.

Nevertheless, I also struggle with the feeling of boredom about exercising. Sometimes you want to do something else than just walking. I never liked the stationary bike. It is nothing like riding an actual bike out in the open air, it also requires more effort than the spin bike. I learnt to ride a bicycle just to spruce up my exercise regime. It is a full body work out, and a lot of fun.

So, on a final note, a healthy life style is a balancing act of paying attention to what you eat and drink, and regular physical activity. Instead of setting ambitious goals of weight loss, focus on making the effort to include some sort of body movements. Run up and down the stairs, skipping for 3 minutes even. Instead of driving to the supermarket, walk the distance. There are multiple ways to include physical movements in your daily routines. Nevertheless, walking continues to be my favourite when I feel like slacking. As mentioned above, it all comes down to how much you care and appreciate yourself. Life may be a stressful jungle to navigate, but you owe it to you, to take care of yourself. In fact, you are your own best caretaker. So, chop, chop; get moving!