All posts tagged: Exercise

I Got in the Best Shape of My Life at 50…And Then 55 Hit

At forty-nine, I was resigned to being over the hill — an overweight couch potato who avoided exercise and ate pastries with abandon. Walking up a flight of stairs left me winded, but I attributed that to middle age. I was getting old, after all. Then, seven months before my 50th birthday, I got the wake-up call that changed my life: A routine lab test revealed that I had Type 2 diabetes. As a physical therapist, I knew what havoc this disease could wreak on a body. I’d treated patients with diabetes-induced neuropathy, blindness and, in severe cases, amputations that began with an infected toe and led to bilateral lower-leg prostheses. I was shocked and terrified and suddenly determined to beat this condition back with everything I had. I downloaded the Couch-to-5k running app on my phone and started. Designed for couch-sitters like me, it started out so gently it was almost laughable. “Run for 60 seconds,” the voice intoned through my ear buds. A minute? Who couldn’t run for a minute? As it turned …

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My Body F-ing Rocks

One of the great things about getting older (I am 39 this year) is a better understanding of what you need for a life that is meaningful, purposeful and satisfying. The problem is, we live in a youth-obsessed culture. You can’t be online for more than three seconds without being bombarded by images of young, invariably thin women frolicking on a beach somewhere or exercising gleefully with perfect hair, nails and skin gleaming in the sunshine. How can anyone keep up with that? Forget anyone; how can you and your ever-changing (and ever-aging) body keep up with that? We can’t. I can’t. So rather than wasting more energy lamenting it – as I did in my 20s and 30s – I am letting go and remembering something really cool: My body rocks. [pullquote]When I say that I have an ass that doesn’t quit, I literally mean it: I have an ass that doesn’t quit.[/pullquote] I am a biologist. I spent years and years getting my PhD and, while I will spare you my dissertation, the …

Walking It Off: How My Morning Habit Helped Me Find Myself Again

I looked at the calendar and couldn’t believe it had been five months. Five months since the last time I had gone on what had been a daily, one-hour walk. I could feel the changes, too, and it scared me. My body missed the exercise: I was more agitated lately and having trouble falling asleep. During the day, my legs were cramping and I felt tired. Things just didn’t feel right, and I knew much of this fatigue and discomfort was caused by lack of exercise. I knew the importance of daily movement for health and emotional well being. But every day, something got in the way of my walk. Even if the first thing I promised myself when I woke up was that I would walk. But here it was, almost half a year since I had exercised. I have been active my entire life, which made it even harder to believe that I had become someone who didn’t move. For the first time in my life, the excuses were winning and it all …

The Necessary Hell of Exercise

I played rugby in college and was the captain of the team my senior year, but my time as a rugger was cut short when I tore my ACL and had to have reconstructive knee surgery. If I stopped here and didn’t say anything else, you might be left with an image of me as an athlete — and I wouldn’t mind being thought of that way — but my tragic flaw is that I am painfully honest, especially when it’s at my own expense. The truth is that I am not, nor have I ever been, athletic. I played one season of T-ball in kindergarten, and a highlight reel would consist of that time I stood too close to the batter and took a bat to the head and the occasion in which I slid into first base on my face. I did play volleyball in seventh grade, but only because my mom made me — and I quit two weeks later because I took a ball to the mouth. And I hated the …

Why Weight Loss Felt Like Betrayal

I am a fat woman. Most days, that’s merely a description, not a value judgment. It wasn’t always that way. At a young age, I learned that food was a double-edged sword. Wielded by my mother, food was a gesture of love that meant she was taking care of her family. In my hands, it was a way to soothe feelings of sadness, loneliness, hurt and anger. Growing up as fat girl with a heaping helping of nerd thrown in, I was bullied at school, ignored by boys and told through every possible medium that when measured against the Western Beauty Standard, I would never win. I’ve done all the usual things every self-hating fat woman has done: crazy diets, becoming best friends with bad self-esteem and creating the world’s best arsenal of self-deprecating jokes. It wasn’t until my mid-20s, after I was brave enough to cancel my subscription to Cosmo (which taunted me every month with pages full of clothes I could never wear, guys I could never date and skinny, beautiful models I …

I Hated Running… Until I Didn’t

Channel your inner Sophia Petrillo and picture this: Lincoln, Nebraska, 1989. A bookish middle schooler, flat of chest and round of belly, spends her summer secretly devouring The Clan of the Cave Bear novels and trying desperately to manipulate the TV antenna into delivering grainy episodes of General Hospital. Swimming? Only if someone offered a ride to the pool. Biking? Just to the gas station for 25-cent Little Debbie zebra cakes. Weepy anticipating of autumn, and school, and being picked last in gym class? Daily. Twenty-five years later, I remain an unlikely spokesperson for running. I should note that, mentally, I’m Flo-Jo. I fire off more emails before 9 a.m. than most people do all day, and as I feed my infant son intermittently throughout the night, my brain sprints around an invisible track, by turns solving global crises and menu planning for my family of picky eaters. [pullquote]I discovered the unlikely psychological alchemy of energy created by energy expenditure. The more I ran, the more energy I had for running[/pullquote] However, in the words …

How I Lost (And Regained) My Handstand

When I lost my dream job, my life went topsy-turvy — so much so that I also lost my handstand. I’m not talking about a gymnastics-style handstand — the kind where perky and muscular athletes like Nadia Comaneci or Gabby Douglas walk around on chalky hands to win Olympic medals. I’m referring to the yoga handstand, often done with the help of a wall. Known in Sanskrit as Adho Mukha Vrksasana, this handstand is my favorite yoga pose. The benefits include increased blood flow to the brain, which is obviously very helpful when it comes to thinking on your feet, once you’re upright again. Typically, this handstand is one of the poses you do toward the end of class, after you’re a malleable and sweaty pretzel. You’re now all warmed up and your shoulders are nice and loose, so your body is perfectly prepped for that handstand. I’m by no means a crazy athlete, by the way. But being able to pop myself into this handstand was just one of those karmic things I could …