Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Physical

Shortly after my husband, David died I joined a gym. Actually I joined 3 gyms over that first year as a widow. I joined not because I like gyms. I actually hate them. Hate is not too strong of a word! I have a visceral response to the word. I hate the smell and the look of the place. I hate the equipment and the ridiculous "costumes" we're suppose to wear to be a true exerciser. The entire time I was there (aprx. 3 months at each gym.) I couldn't stop staring at the clock and wondering when it would be over and I could get on with life. For me the entire experience was in exercise in how to waste time. After the third gym I tried water aerobics. I thought that perhaps if I didn't feel the sweat that I would like exercise. I like the water and the smell of the chlorine better than the gym but it took twice as long to do the deed and my skin started to look like a prune.
Then I bought a bike. Not some fancy, multi-speed mountain bike but an ordinary schwinn with chrome fenders and a bell. The bike is pink and I have a matching helmet. I like biking though I go rather slow and my children have asked me to stay off the main roads because I look like a spectacle out there. Apparently I am still able to embarrass my kids which makes me like the bike even more. The only problem with the bike is that it's a fair-weather activity and in Michigan that's not a regular exercise program.
So last summer, not willing to give up on this exercise-is=good-for-you theory, I joined a zumba class. And much to my surprise, after a life-time of hating exercise I have found something I actually like! I am now a zumba nut. I go twice a week. I sweat like crazy, do more physical activity in one hour than any other work-out I have tried and I actually enjoy myself. Perhaps it's the music or the fast pace. Maybe it engages my mind so I don't have time to watch the clock or make mental lists of all the things I could be doing if I weren't stuck in the gym. Whatever it is, I'm glad I found it. Exercise really is good for the body and the mind. It's very good for grief.
Grief comes with waves of emotions that are quite difficult to sort out and make sense of much less manage. Exercise truly does help "sweat" some of that frustration and anger out. I am glad I took the time to get "physical" with my grief. It has helped. - Now that's not to say that it has actually helped my weight or my waist-line to go down. NO! That would be way too much to ask for! At my age, the best I can hope for is to maintain what I got and make myself a little more flexible and strong. I suppose strong and flexible are good. I've never been all that fond of heavy lifting or bending but just knowing I can do them if I need to is some sort of victory - I guess. Anyway, I'm handling grief and aging and stress with a dose of zumba and an occasional bike-ride. It all seems healthy and my doctor smiles when I tell him I did 5 miles on the bike one day. Come to think of it, that makes me smile too. I didn't know I could do that and that makes me wonder what other things I can handle if I just get the courage to try.
Get physical. It will help with the stuff that grief does to your mind and emotions and body. I believe it was a God-directed thing for me to commit to exercise. (well, OK - commit may be too strong of a word!)I am sure that God was helping me take care of myself while I did the emotional "heavy-lifting" that comes with grief. Don't give up. Find something you enjoy (it took me 18 months to find it!)and do it. It has kept me out of the doctor's office and mostly sane and stable.
Let's get physical! Let me know what works for you. I may want to try it when the zumba gets old.


1 comment:

  1. We do have fun at Zumba don't we? I have seen your enjoyment and laughter during the 1 hour exercise. Okay, only if I am in the back row instead of the front. Thank you for bringing it in to us as I enjoy it as well. Mine is not for grief, but it helps take away the stress of the day and week. God's Blessings daily to you and all who read this.