Thursday, August 24, 2006

The life-changing effects of exercise

I stopped regular exercise in 1999 or 2000. Only because I'm lazy. Up to 2000, I was always enrolled in some university program where I could easily sign up for some physical education class that met two to three times a week. After that, I did not have the interest, determination, or self-discipline to start my own exercise regime and stick with it.

Just now, I am realizing there may be a correlation between lack of exercise and my mental well-being. I was depressed and lost for at least the first half of 2000. Yes, part of it was because I had just finished one of my academic programs and didn't know where to go from there. Maybe part of it was that I had been engaged to John for almost a year and no plans for a wedding had been made. I think exercise could have improved life for me -- at least a little.

In the last few weeks, I have reaped so many benefits from exercising daily (once or twice a day) and eating lighter (less fat and carbs). I haven't lost much weight (give me time -- I'm starting my at-home cardio routine at present -- perhaps to involve kickboxing which I'm learning about from the internet) but I have a flatter belly and well-defined legs and waist. I can't fit my old jeans yet, but at least my form-fitting shirts are not embarrassing to wear anymore. I have more energy to do extra things in the evening, like playing the violin or wrestling with Maylin. I used to be tired a lot. I have more confidence and I'm happy a lot because I look and feel better. My face has a nice, healthy glow now and I must be smiling more like I used to in my youthful, carefree days because more people are smiling at me!

My strength has improved, too, thanks to my stronger abs and legs. It's much easier to carry Maylin or my heavy backpack. And climbing up six flights of stairs is a cinch!

I also feel more relaxed! I used to get a little stressed out with company over (worrying about the cleanliness of the house, worrying about whether or not they were getting enough to eat or drink), but now I'm enjoying myself more because I'm so happy to see my friends and that's the most important thing. I'm physically more relaxed, too. When I picked up the violin last night after nearly a year of dust accumulation, I found my fingers, hand, and wrist moving rather easily -- more easily than before. I used to tense up quite a bit, leaving myself stiff and sore after practice sessions.

If you don't have regular exercise in your daily routine, I highly recommend starting something now! But pick an activity you enjoy doing so you know you'll stick to it longer. I may never have a gym membership because I know I'd get bored on those machines and I'd get too lazy to go out and take exercise classes. But maybe you'd like the gym. John goes about three times a week and likes it.

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