I’ve read online that it takes 21 days for a new habit to form. Today is day 50 since I started exercising daily.
It began when I got a step tracker wristwatch. I think I mistakenly referred to it in a past post as a FitBit watch but actually the brand I have is a LETSCOM fitness tracker watch. It has similar features to a FitBit but is less expensive.
Let me be honest. I have never ever been an exercise person. P.E. was my most hated subject in school; mainly because I hated sucking at every sport that I played, in addition to my teammates hating me for making them lose all the time. Those bad childhood memories stuck with me so much I avoided trying any sport as a recreational hobby out of the belief I would just continually embarrass myself.
High school was a slight turning point, in that I became aware exercise in school didn’t always include a sport but other forms of activity like dancing and weightlifting. I enjoyed the years of earning high marks in P.E. through yoga classes.
Getting comfortable with that helped boost my confidence in becoming good in an alternate type of exercise. I was still shy about it, though, because I never dreamed of trying to do yoga on my own or outside of school without an instructor directing me and the rest of the class. Simply put, I did like yoga but I also didn’t think about incorporating it in my life as a regular thing. After finishing high school, I never pursued P.E. classes in college even though I could have used them for extra class credits.
If there is one form of exercise I know I have a knack for, it’s walking. But it wasn’t always that way. As a very young kid, I was a skinny little thing who often had trouble keeping up with my dad’s long strides. For as long as I can recall he has been a naturally fast walker. Maybe it was meant to be that I adapted on an environmental level and learned to walk like him, too. Or perhaps I’m blessed (or cursed?) with the alleged New York no-nonsense attitude of, “Get out of the way, I’m trying to walk here!” It’s true in the busier parts of NYC, I really have had no choice but to master the skill of moving quickly while dodging people at the same time.
Prior to obtaining a fitness watch, I thought I was doing okay in terms of getting adequate exercise through regular walking. That was only sometimes true for the days I managed to go out, but this only worked if I had a game plan for places I wanted to travel to. And even then, I struggled to find motivation and reasons to move my body after reaching a specific destination. So many times I stopped to rest or have lunch with the intention of taking a short break, only to get stuck in idleness.
You know that restless feeling you have after browsing everything on your phone with nothing more to do? No email to send out. No blog post to write. No call or text message to type out. Nothing new on social media to read or look through. And yet, you are still glued to your phone, opening and closing things in a searching attempt to find something to ease that building void in yourself. The more the restlessness grows, the more you become moody and sullen and even thinking about getting up and resuming mobility seems like an arduous task. Suddenly a half hour turns into an hour into two hours and when the time does come for you to leave, you do it with grudging tolerance while hating every single step you have to take until you reach the train stop towards home.
Okay, so maybe you the reader don’t know what I mean. But what I just described is the pattern I fell into repeatedly. I deluded myself into thinking my lifestyle choices weren’t having a bad effect on me. There were signs I ignored. The clothes that fit me perfectly in the past felt a little snugger around my hips. I would sometimes skip lunch, as I was prone to do, because I either had a large breakfast or didn’t know what to eat. Two things would happen. Either I would snack a lot and still feel hungry because what I was consuming wasn’t right in terms of nutrients for my body. Or, I would load up on caffeine in an empty attempt at filling my stomach with something until dinnertime rolled around, but by then, I would be so hungry that I’d overeat. Then I would stay up quite late because of how bloated I felt hours after the evening meal, and as a result, not sleep very well. It also did not help that I felt pressure to finish everything on my plate; both because I didn’t want to be wasteful but also because other people in my household encouraged me to eat, eat, eat.
When I made the decision to start exercising, it was out of hope that I would feel better about myself because it was clear to me that constantly sitting around was really hurting me. Being self-conscious of my own body (plus being an introvert), hitting the gym wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. It’s nice in this day and age that almost anything can be found on YouTube, which is where I found my ideal exercise routine. Walking exercises!
The phrase I typed into the search bar was “walking workout” and that’s how I found Leslie Sansone’s walking fitness videos. At first I was skeptical. Getting fit at home with a video?? Vaguely I’ve known about at-home fitness videos but I always thought those things were silly and weird. I completely changed my opinion after following one of Leslie Sansone’s workouts… I was shocked and amazed over sweating my butt off. Trust me, at the beginning of the video, the steps looked like a joke because they were so easy to do but that was only the warm-up and once the routine heated up, so did I! More than anything, I was pleased with getting my heart rate up and how the burn of exerting my body gave me an outlet to fight that restlessness bubbling inside me from being sedentary most of the time.
Since then, I slowly started tailoring the exercise moves I learned from the videos to fit how I exercise every day. For example, I don’t walk in place and instead walk back and forth because only in this way, the steps are being counted on my fitness tracker. I am so grateful to have learned to better my standing posture while exercising and walking. It’s been a bit of a confidence booster. Before, I was prone to slouching or not straightening my back. Exercising more often has also made me more conscious of my food choices in terms of what I’m fueling my body with, but I’m definitely not on a specific restricted diet. It’s just I no longer have the expectation that I’m going to finish everything during a meal and to actively listen to my body when it tells me it is almost full. With more exercise, yes, I will disclose that I have lost some weight with the changes I’ve made but I prefer not to say the total number, mainly because I don’t want to get obsessed with it when the most important reason (to me) for making myself a sweaty mess is to be active and healthy.
Featured Image by Bruno Nascimento.