So you want to be a hero?
I know that I function better, mentally as well as physically, when I use my body in healthy ways; but it's been too easy to get out of the habit. Given the nature of the cluster ministry I serve, it's too easy to think being constantly on the move constitutes exercise-- even though the "constant activity" is largely behind a desk, beside a bed or chair, or behind the wheel of a car.
I was reminded of this clearly at a conference I attended back in June. Among the aids we were given was a small, inexpensive pedometer, and the instruction that "enough exercise" would be an average of about 10,000 steps a day. No problem, I thought. I bet I get close to that. After all, I park and walk around my towns most of the time...
Not even close. I was amazed and dismayed to discover that, without intentional effort, my average was less than half that figure.
So I began making that intentional effort. I began walking to start my day-- 20 or so minutes of wandering briskly along the roads near my house. Not a lot, but better than nothing.
Then I had a chat with someone about the absence of women in local volunteer fire and rescue crews (our town has NEVER had a woman firefighter). His tacit "well, yeah..." assumption that this was only to be expected, pricked at me for several reasons. First, because I know the firefighters in my town; and while many of them are in terrific shape, others have evidently spent significant time too close to the doughnut box, or belly up to the bar. Secondly, I know there are women who currently work as smoke jumpers, on hotshot crews, or search and rescue teams, which jobs are certainly physically demanding; so there's no reason (other than plain intransigence) that some women could not also handle the lesser demands of local crews.
And thirdly, because I realized that in my case, he was right-- I couldn't do it even if I wanted to (which I don't, especially) because I am not in any kind of shape to manage the work.
Enough. Of. That.
So I dusted off the hand weights I'd gotten for Christmas, picked up a book to follow along (anyone who knows me, knows I work better with lists to check off!), and got started. Upper body this, lower body that... crunches and lunges and curls... each morning doing something, and using muscles that have not been used in far too long.
I've been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and I'm starting to see improvement. My body is beginning to think about firming up, my energy level has improved, and I can do things more easily. Not only the exercises themselves (the 20 minute walk has turned into 30 minutes of alternating walk/jog; and the 5 pushups I couldn't do when I got started, have become 30) but I also deal better with the other things I have on my agenda each day.
Lord knows I will never be Dara Torres (isn't she marvelous?!); and I don't really anticipate working as a volunteer firefighter. But it will be nice to think I could, if I wanted to.