Saturday, January 07, 2006

I don't want to be a jogger-hater any more

Last night Jim decided to climb the local ski hill before it opened then snowboard down. So as Madeleine and I watched Rudolph the Rednosereindeer he ran up and down the stairs packing, repacking, trying stuff on, sweating and clomping around in 3 different, no wait, 4 types of boots to get ready. Then, all finished with creating a mountain of fleece and gortex next to the front door, he proposed that I climb up/snowboard down on Sunday while he watched the kids. I snorted.

The conversation went like this:
"What? I'm serious. You could go when Pooey's napping and be up and down in 4 hours."
"I don't think so, honey. But thanks for the offer."
"You'd rather go to a movie, wouldn't you." He says, not as a question.
"Uh, yeah. I don't really get excited by a 4 hour hike and a 5 minute snowboard run. What's the point?" I Mona Lisa smiled.
He set down his bowl of cereal, quit chewing and said, "What do you have against exercise?"
I shrugged. "It's weird."
"No really. Tell me, because you seem to make fun of me and everyone else who jogs or works out in any way. What?"

I don't remember what I answered, because I was stunned. He had me. I do have something against people that jog. Every time I see a jogger I smirk to myself, as if they just said "irregardless" or were wearing tapered jeans. As if I know something they don't and I'm just a little bit better for the knowing. I don't like this about myself. I was a college athlete. I used to work out 6 hours a day and be able to run extremely fast and lift incredible amounts of iron. After college I used to jog 5 miles a day 6 days a week in 100 degree weather. But now I laugh and scoff at joggers. I laugh and scoff at my husband! Okay, I admit I like people who jog, but I hate the way I feel about myself when I see them.

I'm worried that it's some symptom of depression because I can't get off my ass to get in decent shape again. Jim always gives me the opportunity to jog or even take a nice walk at the end of the day, but I tell myself I'm not an end-of-the-day kind of exerciser. I tell myself I'm too tired from kids or it's too dark/cold/rainy/sunny. But these are blatant excuses and I've never been that person! I've never made excuses for being so out of shape; I just do what it takes to get into shape. I tell myself I don't have any pressing reason to be in shape now, except that it would improve my self esteem, my health, my relationship with my husband, my wardrobe. Are these things not important enough for me to put on some boots and walk up the hill which is right behind our house? I feel like I need some annoying Tony Little/Susan Powder exercise-pusher to put my sweats on and cheerlead in my ear for me to get my ass moving. And I didn't even make any New Years resolutions. Should I worry this is depression or just laziness? Or like all things that seem insurmountable when you have small children is it "this too shall pass" kind of issue?


Anonymous Nancy said...

I could have written this post myself, except for one thing -- I have never been athletic, so I've always been the one making excuses. I know that regular exercise would improve my health, self-esteem, body image, physical appearance, etc. -- but I just dislike getting going so much that I don't ever start. (Once I DO start, I tend to not mind the exercise so much.)

If we had no money issues I'd hire a personal traner to get me in shape, because I honestly think that's the best way to get me moving. Paying myself for a gym membership, buying a jogging stroller, getting a treadmill -- none of these have made a dent.

I am also open to any thoughts other people have.

1/07/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

Honey, exercise is what I call "the final frontier" with regard to my "issues". I have been treating my depression for 13 years now. I take Prozac, etc. People say I will feel even better if I could exercise. I don't know what it will take to "go there" on this one. So, I just haven't addressed it. What I mean by this is that I understand what you are saying....I just have no answers.

1/07/2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I think you're just stunned by the stark differences between your life then and your life now. I can identify, although my kids are older now. Both scenarios are good and both are what you want (or wanted at the time), but devotion to one thing requires sacrifice from the other and THAT, my friend, sucks the big pudding.

I didn't discover running until I was 18 years old, but I spent all my formative years being effortlessly thin. I never gained that Freshman 15. I played adult soccer for 20 years...sometimes three teams per season. I was a long-time gym rat and I trained for and finished a full marathon and two half marathons back in the '90s. But it requires the kind of time and attention that is somehow funneled into other things now. It started with leg surgery. That kept me out of soccer, and the time that opened up for me because I wasn't playing was seductive. Suddenly, I had more time and, after an incident that required me to fire my trainer, I had even more time.

I really need another person to yell and inspire me because lifting weights is incredibly dull, but even if I had that person now I don't think I could dig up the time. If I'm running, I'm not painting. If I'm painting, I'm not looking for books to pitch to the editor. If I'm in my office too much, I lose track of what projects the kids are supposed to be working on for school...or Mr. Half and I find we haven't had a date night in three months.

It's endless. I see the person I used to be and it does make me feel bad sometimes. Our neighbors are big marathoners and they keep asking me to go run with them and it makes me ANGRY. Angry at them because going would reveal to them and to myself that I can only run a mile without stopping and that's about it. Staying home with kids is so wonderful and I'm glad I did that, but it requires a huge amount of putting your own life on hold. You find yourself saying "I used to be this" and "I used to be that". Once the kids got older it's eases up, but then you're intimidated by HOW LONG YOU'VE BEEN OUT OF THE LOOP. And you're older. And slower. And it's easier to be angry and not participate than to attempt it and get kicked in the ass by the passage of time.

But, you know...moving your body is worth it. And it helps. Set the bar low. Don't go for four hours. Set a goal. Hike a quarter of the way up that hill and down again. Don't even go every day. You WILL feel better. I've started back to light weights and sprints. People with a history of dedicated athleticism have incredible muscle memory, and it doesn't take much of a nudge for your body to respond. Don't try to be what you were. That person is gone. Be the best version of WHAT YOU ARE! Now drop and give me twenty!! (Not!)

1/07/2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Sorry, Mignon. All that long-windedness was just to say that I know how you feel. I think a lot of us do. Your feeling are real and valid. There's a reason for them and that reason doesn't make you lazy or even critical of excercise or those who depend upon it regularly. It makes you feel critical of yourself, and when your whole body/mind/spirit has been compromised by the needs/wants of very tiny human beings, that little bit of self-blaming can push you right over the edge. Don't blame yourself, but DO be good to yourself. I think Jim is just trying to offer you the chance to do the things that used to make you happy. Okay...I'll stop now.

1/07/2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

What Wordgirl said. LOL.

I used to be somewhat athletic. Now there are times when getting the mail causes me to break out in a fine body sweat. I think we're longing for the life, the time and the energy level we used to have.

1/07/2006 12:37 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I don't know for sure about the having kids part, but I would be willing to bet that's a huge part of it.
On the other hand, I don't exercise either and I have plenty of time and ostensibly energy to burn because I'm not a mom. So in my case, it's definitely just plain laziness.
And I scoff at joggers and marathoners too. What is wrong with me?! That is so funny!

1/08/2006 7:42 AM  
Blogger DoctorMama said...

I've found that it's the real athletes who have the hardest time with boring maintenance exercise. Because when you were an athlete, we joggers (as opposed to runners) were so nerdy. What is the point of going out for a slow tiny run every other day forever and ever?

For me, the doing it is the point. It feels good, both during and after. But you do have to be willing to become the person in the high-waist, tapered jeans saying "irregardless." It sucks -- all the things you have to give up for kids, and you have to give up being the cool athlete too?

Probably your husband isn't helping -- I bet his offer feels like a criticism. Not that there's really any other way for him to do it, poor guy.

My only suggestions are: start with baby steps, but make an ironclad appointment with yourself. I think it's a "this too shall pass" thing.

1/08/2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger The Queen Mama said...

If this is the only symptom of depression you have, I wouldn't give it much thought. Procrastination is a powerful thing. And raising kids is tiring work, no doubt.

You know what it takes to get where you want to be, and only you will be able to decide if and when you want to go back to it.

Will you hate me if I told you I jogged on my treadmill this morning? And hey, what's wrong with tapered-leg jeans, exactly? ;-)

1/08/2006 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Mignon, Can you just blame it on your genes, not the jeans? If it'll help.

With love,

1/08/2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

You all have been incredibly helpful and sage and funny and all that I have come to expect. I feel good knowing I'm not the only lazy-I-mean-too-busy to get myself on the pavement.
wrdgrl, thank you for making me see Jim's effort as helpful and not critical.
nancy teebs mamaT and SV, thanks for making me feel less crazy
doctor - thanks for responding. I knew you were a jogger, and actually thought I should put some sort of caveat saying that you were a clear exception to my prejudice. And yes, you are absolutely right. I was cool. And joggers? Not so much.
Queenie? A treadmill? Is that some sort of torture device.
And best of all mom (this is like the Oscars!). The thought of my genes (Amy?Beth?Gramma?) is what makes me the most depressed!

1/08/2006 5:54 PM  
Anonymous 1 of 2 Dads in Dresden said...

Thanks Wordgirl for your thoughts. I have really been feeling as if I was mourning the loss of something since becoming a parent & my partner too, I think. It's the loss of who we were before. Now it seems so obvious... Duh! With all the interesting diversions for people without kids here in the EU (and the lack of a family support network, babysitting opportunities, etc.), the loss is felt perhaps a bit more than if we were still living in the US.

1/08/2006 11:19 PM  
Anonymous mom said...

I meant me, not that other side--I'm incredibly happier in front of the tv with 1500 calories than jogging, biking, OR swimming. So sorry you misinterpt me.

1/09/2006 1:20 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

"Every time I see a jogger I smirk to myself, as if they just said "irregardless" or were wearing tapered jeans." You and I are kindred bloggers, for sure!

I battle the exercise demons, too. I'm currently having success with "Pilates for Dummies," a half-hour (25 mins. without the cautions and credits) VHS tape (yes, VHS tape) that I do a few times a week. It makes me feel good and it's a good way of getting back into exercise. It makes me want to do other things.

1/09/2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Mom, it's hard to attribute my lack of motivation to any of your genes. Did you forget you are backpacking around the world at 63? Sitting in front of the tv, my ass!

1/09/2006 7:45 AM  

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