Exercise: I Love to Hate It

Up until a year ago, I never exercised. Well—almost never. I played seasonal tennis all through middle school and high school, and I often took my dog for a walk, but other than that, I was pretty content sitting at my desk all day and lifting my English textbooks up and down.

Right after I finished my senior year of undergrad, though, I found myself living back at home for a short time while I transitioned between things. My dad had been trying to get me to do regular exercise for years to no effect. It was easy to ignore him while I was away at school, but when I was at home and he was right there it was almost impossible.

“Fine,” I said one day, completely out of irritation. “I’ll start exercising.”

Yeah, I should pretty much build a thank-you monument to my dad.

So here I am, one year later. Let’s talk about what has and hasn’t changed. Here’s what hasn’t: I still hate exercise with every fiber of my being. I dread it all day until I finally get it done. I am still not athletic, and I am still pretty awkward at any physical activity.

But here’s what has changed: almost everything. I had love handles before, and now I don’t. I might have gotten tired and puffed at the top of three flights of stairs a year ago, but there’s no way I would now. I had this annoying stick-out part of my stomach when I first started exercising, and now it’s gone. I have more energy. I have more exuberance. I have cravings for healthier food.

And whereas before I might have gotten two or three colds a year and probably some other kind of illness, I have not gotten sick at all in the last year outside of one food poisoning incident.

I used to give the excuse that I didn’t have time to exercise. Now, I make time. I recorded two exercise programs that I liked from Exercise TV on Comcast, and I replay my tape and do those programs 4-5 days per week. It takes 40 minutes at most. If I miss more than one day of my routines, or if I go away for a weekend and can’t exercise, I just feel wrong. I start to miss it. Yeah, that’s right. Even though I hate it, I still miss it.

Trust me. Exercising is worth it. If you don’t do it now, start. You won’t believe the difference. And if you don’t have time, start with just a little. Find a tape you like, or do some stretches when you have free moments throughout the day. Get in the habit and establish a routine. You will be so, so glad you did, and your body will thank you ten thousand times over.

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