According to Holley Mangold, her recent ouster from “The Biggest Loser” was because she was allergic to running. Let’s look at some of the core symptoms. Do you break out in a sweat when you exercise hard? (that means you are exercising your heart!) Do you have hat hair after exercise? (this is an easily remedied issue – don’t wear a hat!) Does your nose run when you exercise? (mine too! I just bring extra tissues and measure how hard I worked based on the number of tissues I used) Does the cold make you shiver? (layers, people, layers) Does the rain make you wet? (and you live in the Pacific Northwest? See hat hair and layers; if you don’t exercise because it is raining, you might as well not exercise at all)
For me, the real issue is that we are led to believe that unless we run, we aren’t exercising. And that’s just not true. I have walked 5 half marathons in the past 2-1/2 years. Didn’t run. Walked. And there were a lot of people that walked with me. And walking that half marathon made me feel like I could do anything!
Walking doesn’t require a lot of fancy gear or equipment or a special location. You can walk your neighborhood, walk the mall, walk the dog, or find a trail. I feel inspired when I take a walk with an amazing view or a new neighborhood. My favorites include Alki, Discovery Park across the Magnolia Bluff, and the Sammamish River Trail. All are paved with lots of other people. A good rain-resistant coat is a must. A hat or umbrella. And a good pair of shoes. That’s it. You just walk out your door and start.
If you aren’t up for a major walking adventure just yet (you do need to work up to the mileage), start with the mall. Do a lap or two around an indoor mall. Park far away at work or at the shopping center. I try to add in an extra set of stairs whenever I get up to get tea. And the weather. Do you ever feel like the weather is always better when you are working? If you can carve out 30 minutes in your day, get outside. Keep a pair of shoes in your desk (also good in case of natural disasters) and go out around the block. I have a standing walking meeting with a co-worker every week. Sometimes we just walk stairs. But we try to get outside and just catch up. I used to have a twice a month date with a friend and we would walk the high school track for 30 minutes. It wasn’t long, but having that date made me a lot more likely to get out there.
So suck it up and deal with your ‘allergy.’ Set a goal – walk around the block in 15 minutes; walk the dog for 30 minutes at a fast pace (choosing some good music can help keep your pace up!). Find a buddy and walk. Sing my favorite holiday song from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: ‘Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door …’ That’s really all it takes.
To be honest, I wish there was a real reason I struggle with exercise … but let’s call it what it is – I’m not allergic, I just don’t always like it. But part of living healthy is not just eating right, but staying active. I have learned to wear layers, bring lots of tissue when it’s cold, and get outside whenever I can. And you know what? The more I get outside and walk or run or trot or wander, the more I want. I can see why people call it an addiction. So here’s to a healthy addiction to activity!