On Staying Fit


Physical Fitness

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on a diet of fitness. Maybe you did too? Maybe you played soccer, hockey, rode horses, biked, or just walked a lot with your family. For me, fitness began with dad. Being a pudgy child of a former pudgy child, I knew I never wanted to be this way as an adult. Dad was always taking us biking or walking; he ran or walked to work on his own a 2 mile distance there and back. Dad biked and golfed, encouraged us to be fit people too.

More than that fitness was a decision I made in junior high. Tired of being a little over weight,  a little slower than all  the other kids, I started to push myself in gym class. I played basketball, and even when there was no girls volleyball team in Jr. High I went to every boy’s practice and played with them. Playing volleyball and basketball continued into highschool aided by 45 minute Pilates videos 3 times a week and walking the dog. In university I was crushed that the University I attended did not and would not even try to have a girls volleyball team, despite avid interest from many of the girls I knew. I had started weight lifting in highschool but opted for a leaner look of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill combined with Pilates and other core centered exercises. When university finished I seriously got into weight lifting. Three times a week I worked out on some cardio machine 30-40 minutes and weight lifted one day on my upper body and one day on my lower body alternating. It was a fitness lifestyle I really enjoyed. Not to mention I took the bus walked about 12 blocks every day to and from the bus and walked up every set of staircase I could find while taking the bus. But this was the old me; like with what happened with many things when I had my depressive episode, my fitness changed a lot after I was sick. I did not and do not have the energy to maintain such a fit life style and inside this kills me. But it is something I have come to accept for now – at this point in time I do not have the energy to exercise as much I need to as much I would like.

The most unfortunate effect of this drop in physical activity is the weight gain. While in university I was able to control my weight despite my drinking, now I hardly drink and must carefully watch my calorie intake. I see I dietitian and am most aware of the pounds I have put on due to certain medications that I have to take; weight gain that may increase as I try different medications to see which will work best, to give me more physical energy. Not only do medications cause weight gain with lack of physical energy, but so does lack of energy itself. I cannot go for 2 hour walks or even handle a full work out at the gym even twice a week and this really upsets me. The best I have been able to manage is 10-12 minutes on the elliptical 4-5 days a week, 2 days walk my dog for 30 minutes, and yoga for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week – on a good week. These are all good exercise but not nearly intense enough to decrease my body weight to its former glory. But I should also mention, some people in my extended family tend to be heavier.

My purpose, in telling you this, If I can do this having little physical energy, you who are just stuck on the couch can do something – do anything. At least maintain your body weight. I am very aware of the fact that medications, and increased weight around my middle puts me at risk for heart disease, diabeties, and an increase in cortisol which generally leads to less energy ironically – and you should be aware of this too. Yes, exercise can be really hard – but its really necessary to maintain your body. You may not be like me and crave more intense exercise (despite my inability) but a little thing like sitting up on the couch, going for a walk around the block, doing a 20 minute exercise video, even that can make a difference and decrease your risk for things such as heart disease and even some cancers. Paying attention to you diet and especially portion sizes in your diet is really important. For instance, one cereal bowl full of chips may be a treat, but the whole bag is pushing it, even if you are working out so much that you can burn those calories off. Eat good food – vegetables and fruit, protein, and everything in the right proportions. And even if you cannot be the same weight you were in fourth year university, you will be on your way to a healthier more energetic life. Take care of your body for you and your family.

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