Exercise Habits:  Move – or Smack Someone!
By: Christine Marshall Hersom
Smack someone?  Bear with me.
Do you consider yourself physically active?  I have always considered myself physically active.  When I was a child, I grew up on a dairy farm.  There were always chores to do, animals to tend, gardens to plant and harvest.  I was busy from sunup until sundown.
As an adult, when life got real, I became a legal secretary, got married, became a mother, caregiver to my ailing mother, and a mother myself. I had a case of busyitis.  Just like everyone else.  When my children were school age, I had a brilliant idea and decided to change careers.  I became a home-daycare provider causing busyitis overload….
Do you see where I went there?  I went from physically active to “too” busy.  I worked and lived on a farm, played all the school sports, showed horses, was a majorette, etc.  I was physically active, and it was embedded in my life. My lifestyle.  As life went on and I grew up, I believed there would always be time to get active again.  I would make time to fit it in as soon as I got organized.  My being physically active went from exercise to “busyness” which is NOT the same thing.  A busy mind is not a busy body and a busy body is not always a fit body.  Trust me.
I think we all believe we are active because we are so busy.  Just because we are not all coach potatoes loafing around, doesn’t mean we are “active.”  I used to justify my lack of strategic and scheduled activity by saying I was too busy and had no time.  Or a favorite of mine was, I chase children all day.  WRONG!!  I wasn’t too busy to exercise, I just had convinced myself of that “busy” equaled fit.
Although my job as a daycare provider does have activity, the reality is I do not chase children all day.  I am “with” children all day.  A great example, my yard is set up with a play area that is about 100 feet by 100 feet.  It is open, free.  But, let’s be clear, I do not “chase” children all day.  Nice try brain – that worked for years. I convinced myself for decades that I was active.  As I aged, I started to realize even the simplest of activity began causing pain.  I couldn’t run like I used to (mind you, I hate running, always have). I do play tag with the kids, but they began outrunning me.  It is a real eye opener when you lose a race to a three-year old who isn’t even trying. 
Along came Coach Peggy.  She called me out on my “busy” concept. Bullshit. BUSY?  She dug deeper with a different approach asking me what my history was with activity. We went back to childhood.  I realized that movement was a part of my life and it kept me fit.  I also realized exercise used to be a stress reliever, and I wanted that again.
I started small, because apparently baby steps matter. Ha. I signed up for her hula hoop class.  I did not want to join the active class on Zoom because I was embarrassed.  What if after all these years, I might not be able to hula hoop.  Surely, just like riding a bike – it would come right back.  NO, it did not.  I dropped that hula hoop more than 100 times and I gave up.  My initial thought was that I was not made for hula hooping.  I QUIT!! My husband is the one that changed my mind.  He said, “We are not a can’t family, we are a can-do family.  You had better keep trying.  Research it on YouTube.  Attack it and learn it like you do everything else.” While it was great advice, my first thought was you sound like Coach Peggy.  You are supposed to be my husband and best friend, I don’t need two life coaches.  Why don’t you try it if you are so smart? I mean really…I am not a child.
I know, I know, get off my soapbox.  Ok.  I finally caved and did what he said.  I researched it, practiced it, and finally have success.  I mean, I will never be on the Olympic Hula Hooping Team, but I can keep it going for about 35 rotations before dropping it.  And, I continue to practice.  I have learned a lot about becoming fit again later in life.  Just as I did as a child, my activity was either a part of my day-to-day at the farm or was an activity I enjoyed and had fun.  I needed to do that again; embed my activity into functional daily movement to improve my life and have fun.  Oh, and relieve stress so I didn’t want to smack anyone.
The point of this is not to brag about my new hula hooping skill, but to remind you that “busy” is not necessarily being physically active.  And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Trying new activities and making them fun releases that “I have to exercise again” feeling.  I am easily bored yet trying different activities used to frustrate me.  I would convince myself I was either too fit for the new activity or not fit enough.  In both cases, I would quit.
Coach also brought up a point that has kept me on a fitness schedule for months now. She asked how I would feel if my family had to take of me later in life because I “chose” not to be physically active when I could have been?  How would I feel knowing my lack of activity now would increase the risk they would have to take care of me as I age?  My laziness could force their entire lives to change, when I could have made a difference for myself and them?  I mean really… She basically painted the picture of the old, fat lady in a wheelchair having to have everything done for her.  But the broad was right.  It made me feel like crap knowing I am in charge now.  I know I can become sick from other unforeseen illnesses, but I needed to take responsibility and do my best and do it now.
If we do not take care of ourselves, we all could be that lady or man whose family or friends needs to care for them.  We need to try our best.
The battle for fitness is a long one, and it is a constant one.  It never ends.  Once we master a certain exercise, we cannot call ourselves fit and quit.  We have to keep going.  Change it up, try something new, but keep it going.  I use the analogy of fitness as being like mental health.  Often people with mental health illnesses will go on medicine.  Once they start to feel better, they decide they are cured and stop the medicine.  Then they find out “they are not cured”.  That is the same for me with fitness.  Once I reach a certain level, I am feeling more fit and feeling better, but it is “for the moment”.   Not forever.  Keep the exercise up.  Your body and your family will thank you for it.
The unexpected reward is recognizing how much moving more decreases my stress level just as it did when I was a child.  Truly when I move, the odds of me wanting to smack someone decreases.  So if I can go from dropping a hula hoop 100 times, trying salsa dancing and wall push-ups daily you can, too. Your program doesn’t have to be monstrous.  One more thought, Coach Peggy says, “People can shop and cook for you, but NO ONE can exercise for you, so get off your ass!”

by: Christine Marshall Hersom

Email: Christine at christinehersom@gmail.com

All Things Wellness, LLC

 

Click on the video below for a short clip from Coach Peggy regarding the “What has your family and friends done to you?” Family Wellness History & Habit: Exercise