The weather is nice again today, warm and a little cloudy, so I took advantage of that to get a run around my work ‘hood in. (I had a couple drops of rain fall on me, but they weren’t unwelcome). It was a tough run; my legs have been really, really tired. My quads, which usually are nice and strong, have been feeling a little beat up, plus I’ve been having issues with my right Achilles (boy was it barking when I got out of bed this morning). It took 2 of the 3 miles for my body to warm up and sort itself out, and I finished in 40 minutes. Considering how much I was walking, I must’ve been pulling a good pace while I was running?
In my life, I’ve tried dieting (low-fat? low-carb? high-protein? yep), I’ve tried light cardio, I’ve tried strenuous cardio, I’ve tried interval training, I’ve tried strength training, and I’ve also tried all these in various combinations and configurations. And aside for a few months just after I started c25k (going from absolutely sedentary to reasonably active) the size of my body has stayed spot-on the same. I’m pretty certain at this point that my body is quite happy as it is; it resists all my efforts to change it. It laughs in the face of diets. I have no idea what it’s doing but it’s obvious that trying to change it on the macro level is a losing bet.
On the other hand, all the exercise I’ve done has produced results– non-visible results, to be sure, but I can now Do Stuff. I can walk, hike and run long distances, and my legs are a reliable form of transportation. Carrying heavy bags of groceries up flights of stairs isn’t so bad anymore. I can pick a man up and sling him over my shoulder and carry him around. I can dash across the street quickly without losing my breath. Helping a friend move is kind of fun. 5 years ago, I had no confidence in my body’s ability to do any of these things– but little by little I tried new things out, set new goals, and slowly improved what I could do. I look the damn same, but now I can deadlift my body weight!
I recognize that my goals don’t work for everyone, and that folks have different levels of ability and that’s ok. Not everyone enjoys exercise, and it’s certainly not a requirement for life! But I also think that people have learned to frame activity in a negative way– c’mon, who didn’t hate gym class?– and it might turn out that a daily walk or swim or lifting heavy stuff or taking up ballroom dancing turns out to bring joy after all, and you find yourself carving out time for it because you enjoy it.
As I step down off my soapbox… just want to remind everyone that health is not a moral imperative, and all bodies deserve respect right now. (Especially from ourselves!)