Over the past few weeks, I have undertaken what could be for me, one of the most drastic lifestyle changes in my entire life.
I have committed to running a 5K this spring.
This is big. I’m a card-carrying lazy ass, making fun of those crazy runners, grimacing (although people tell me they are smiling) as they are supposedly making their lives better. Tearing up my lazy ass card is monumental. I’ve tried to exercise before, with less than positive outcomes, but this time… I’m committed.
John asked me what is different this time.
This time, I have a goal and it’s not to run a 5K.
It’s to be healthier: for me, for him, for The Kid. All the other times, it was “to get in shape” or “to help control my diabetes,” and not surprisingly, I found reasons to avoid it. (“I can control my diabetes without exercise…” or “I look like I’m in shape…”) I want to be able to live a long time, play with my daughter, and have fun. I’m not doing it to be a role model or an inspiration. I’m not being altruistic; I’ve had enough of being a lazy ass. It’s time.
But in doing so, I want to share what I’ve learned so far, just in case you need a little nudge off the couch, my fellow couch-potato with extra sour cream and bacon.
- Only you can rid of the barriers and excuses. I have a lot of fears about exercising, some of which are unfounded, but some are legit. I knew that I should start getting regular exercise (I hate filling out medical questionnaires and marking: No, I don’t exercise at all. Hahaha.), but I was scared about something going wrong with my heart or having bad lows. My cardiologist cleared me (He told me that I was lazy and that was not an excuse I can use.) and I have learned what has worked for me regarding my basal insulin and how to keep stable. Those excuses out of the way made it harder for me to avoid doing this. The “I am so busy!” excuse was lame, but it was the one I always used to mask the fears. Before I started, I actually sat down with my calendar and made appointments with myself to work out. Figure out what your excuses are for not exercising and then get rid of them.
- You can’t do this on your own. Sure, there are some people who can get up off the couch one day, put on sneakers and bound off into the wild. (I haven’t many many…or any… but I’m sure they exist.) Unless you are one of those mythical unicorn exercisers, help is needed. Peer and family support is crucial (and not just for exercise!), so I let my husband and my online friends know that I was not going to be a lazy ass anymore and welcomed their encouragement. I also knew that I needed structure (and not just a “let’s go for a walk” exercise program, because cold, rain, I’ll walk when it’s better weather, what if I’m 2 miles from the house and I have a bad low), so I joined a gym close to my house with great hours and hired a personal trainer. (I got a deal, otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible.). He understands that while I am the expert in my diabetes, he will help create a workout that helps my diabetes stay manageable. (P.S. I hate him, in the nicest way possible.) Even if you don’t hire a personal trainer, you can still get on a treadmill and begin to walk. Just let others know you are doing it.
- What the heck do you listen to when you exercise? Answer: Pod runner – This is what drives my feet when I’m on the treadmill. While there are apps out there that will tell you when to run and when to walk and tracks it all for you, I went “old school” based on a recommendation from someone I trust – and he didn’t steer me wrong. It’s a podcast. (I like podcasts. We produced one back in the day.) I’m doing the “First Day to 5K” series and the music is (hopefully) set to your pace. (It’s electronic dance music and changes for walking and running/jogging with a series of beeps to tell you when to switch.) There are other interval series: Gateway to 8K, Freeway to 10K, Begintervals, and hundreds of free workout sessions. I hate being in a gym and having music that I don’t like or doesn’t match what I’m doing (Cooling down with upbeat music? No.) Does it track your runs? Nope. It just keeps you moving, which for me, is half the battle. When I strength train, I use Pod Runner and their DJ mixes.
- You feel great. And then you don’t. Keep Going. Pace yourself. I worked out and the next day, I was sore. A little sore. A few days later, I met with the personal trainer and went through a modified, shorter, strength training workout that kept my heart rate up. The next morning, I couldn’t move without whimpering. It wasn’t a sharp, debilitating pain, but more of a “hey, what’s up with these muscles that haven’t been used since Reagan was in office?” pain. I’m feeling stronger and can last longer than when I started, but there is a reason why some people say to wait a day in between workouts until you get into the groove.
- Everything changes. That’s what Buddha says and it applies to exercise, too. My food choices are more “nutritious.” I pull a banana out of the bowl rather than salty carbs. My insulin needs are dropping, especially my overnight basals. (I’ve had lows at 3am more frequently, so I’m taking steps to ensure I don’t drop at night.) My energy level is rising. I’m changing. Expect that you will change, too. Small steps.
Don’t think that I’m all “spring in my step and a song in my heart” right now. Exercise is work. I’m still in the motivation process, but I am finding that I get off the couch easier, so it’s a start. What about you?