I am a couch potato, and most of the time, I’m happy with that.
After all, being a couch potato has also been part of my lifestyle, and not just in an “I’m addicted to Netflix” kind of way. I’m a literature geek, I’m a writer, I do a lot of work, real work on my sofa. Plus, in general, I’m just a bit more cuddling and snuggling oriented than sweating and aching oriented. Plus, I have all the coordination of Gumby with an iPhone keypad.
So exercise hasn’t been a big part of my life for many years. Sure, I like to take long, leisurely walks, but I rarely break a sweat on such an outing. But this year, I realized a few things: I’m not very strong, I have an energetic young pup who desperately needs exercise, and I’m kind of sadly out of shape. By out of shape I don’t mean fat – I’m a little chubby but I’m also not particularly bovvered by it; rather, I mean huffing and puffing on the slightest incline, dangerously weak with a muscular dog on the leash, incapable of carrying my fair share of groceries home from the store without assistance, and almost painfully inflexible in my muscles. Since the dog is merely the “Lite” precursor to the children my fiancÃ© and I hope to have in a few years, since my lifestyle (with pet, without car, upstairs unit) requires some modicum of strength and endurance, and since I have enough basic biological knowledge to know that a body that enjoys regular, moderate exercise generally involves higher life quality and longer life span, I finally decided I should probably get off my ass this year and start exercising.
So, I enrolled in Curves, started taking my dog on more regular walks, and started adding extra steps to my day, too. And I’ve been surprised to find that the best result hasn’t been better-fitting clothes (though they do), higher levels of energy (though they are), or a more vivid sensual engagement with the world (though it is). The best result has been that my mind is working in overtime these days, and not at a frenzied, manic pace, either. (Been there, done that.) Rather, my mind has been almost leisurely churning out good thinking, solid planning, and bright ideas on a regular basis for a while now.
For instance, I am sometimes a writer of short stories, but it’s actually been a couple of years since I wrote anything or even worked on editing old material. I’d become depressed and unmotivated in my creative writing life, so I just set it aside for a while. The other day, however, without warning, on my way home from the gym, an entire expansion of plot occurred to me for a short story I’d written, attempted to revise, and abandoned three years ago. I’ve already begun jotting notes and re-outlining the piece. Another example? I’ve been daydreaming about what path I’d like my career to take, long-term, and it’s beginning to sound like I may need extra schooling. Well, this week without puzzling much about it I was able to sit down, write out a time frame for paying back petty debts that would complicate paying for school, as well as a savings plan to sCopyedited.ock away what I’ll need for the affordable program I was able to locate for my area of interest.
Now, coming from the girl who often labors mentally just to think of what to eat for lunch, and who often gives up on weekend plans in frustration because anything more than “Turn on laptop, surf Tumblr” can be too complicated, I’m pretty impressed! And I blame it on the exercise. It makes me wonder how far I can take this. If I start writing again, will crunches or a brisk walk get me past the writer’s block moments? Can I use lunges to get me through an interpersonal conundrum? Just how far does the correlation between mind and body go, and how can I exploit it to my ultimate health and success?
What have been your experiences, movers and shakers?