January 9, 2013 by Kara Nichols
In grade school I was forced to run a mile every year. Miss Bell would be on the side of the field with a whistle in her mouth. I’d usually come in last, huffing and puffing. Even though I was only a few pounds overweight it kept me from enjoying a lot of activities. T-ball was the last time I enjoyed being on a team, and I can only say that because I don’t remember being on T-ball but there are pictures to prove it.
As I got older and gained more weight I distanced myself from exercise and sports even more. I started writing and also picked up guitar in Jr. High. I do remember taking walks around the neighborhood with my friend Jamie, and I know I had a gym membership at one point but I found the treadmill to be boring and the aerobics classes seemed silly, in that I couldn’t figure out the moves. I tried walking videos, yoga videos, swimming (which I like except you get wet), wii fit, an elliptical machine at one point, and now I have a treadmill that I rarely use because it’s pretty boring, even when I’m watching tv. For awhile I wanted to be a runner, but first you have to be a walker, and I lost interest pretty quickly. Although in 2011 I walked a 3k.
A lot of people in my family exercise. My dad is a great example. For as long as I can remember (years and years) he has walked (rain or shine) 3 miles a day. He uses the time to pray, and now that he is in Virginia he looks for deer too. Sometimes he’ll ask a passerby how he can pray for them. Strange but amazing as he’s had the chance to lead people to God that way.
I want that kind of dedication to exercise. I want a habit. And not just for the obvious reasons. The benefits of exercise on mental health is significant. I think that some of my foggy brain and depression might have more to do with me not getting enough exercise than me needing to up the dose on a medication.
The Mayo Clinic states that exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, improves sex life and it can be fun.
I buy into all of those reasons except the last one: it can be fun.
I’ve never had fun working out.
I also can’t dance to save my life. Having grown up in a strict Baptist lifestyle, where dancing is prohibited because “dancing leads to sex.” In my adult life I wasn’t the type who went to clubs to dance . So I have no moves. I feel awkward when I try to move my body.
One time last year I attempted a Zumba class. Zumba is a “Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness party.” I left halfway through because I didn’t know the moves (did I think I would learn all of them the first time time?) and I thought I looked silly next to all of these ladies, young and old, who can shake their hips in ways that would make my grandfather turn over in his grave.
Next I went through a phase of not exercising at all, and it was horrible. Since joining Weight Watchers last month I knew I would have to incorporate exercise as soon as possible. And I wanted it to be fun, like the Mayo Clinic says it can be.
I walked on the treadmill a few times. That’s it. And then I remembered Zumba. I didn’t think I’d be able to afford the dvds and I wasn’t ready to be in a class yet. I vaguely remembered the dvds being about $100 for a set. And I couldn’t afford that. BUT I found the set on Amazon.com for $60 so I put them in my virtual shopping cart and waited a few days.
I stumbled across a Zumba infomercial, and I was overwhelmed by how many people lost over 100 pounds with just Zumba. And it looked fun. I have secretly always wanted to be able to dance, plus I needed to exercise for my brain, and I could do it all in the comfort of my own living room.
The dvds came in the mail a few days ago. I watched the first dvd which is basically a step by step explanation of each step – there’s probably a total of 50. I caught on pretty quickly, except when they pumped up the tempo I got a little lost. But I did it. This morning I did the next video called Activate which is 45 minutes long. It flew by! Granted I could follow maybe 5% of what they were doing, but that will come with time. I would hate to know what I actually looked like, but I felt pretty good. A little giddy, to be moving my body in new ways. And I was reminded of the word of encouragement spoken over me at the women’s retreat last November. A lady said, “You are going to dance, dance, dance! The Holy Spirit is telling me you will dance.” And I laughed heartily at this, but now it’s coming true. I will dance, dance, dance. Thankfully no one is watching except God. I’m pretty sure my weird maneuvers made him smile this morning. I certainly can’t stop smiling. I bet Miss Bell would be proud of me too.