i quit exercising for 20 years

While I’d been living in freedom from my eating disorder for well over a decade, it took much longer to freely engage in exercise. I recognized that in the past my exercise levels had become obsessive. Fearful that I’d slip back into the same obsessive mindset if I started exercising, I largely avoided it altogether. Occasionally I’d dip my toes in the water with a gym membership here and a workout DVD there. However, for the most part, I nestled right into the bosom of my fear, finding a convenient excuse to quit exercise for 20 years.

THE SHIFT

Two years ago things started to shift. We embraced a new lifestyle of RV living and I vowed to start praying through my fears and embracing discomfort. Three months into our travels, the topic of exercise rose to the top. Not only had my husband started running a few days a week, but we found ourselves parked adjacent to a couple that seemed to think daily exercise was part of their full-time job (I later found out that it was). I’d stare out my window watching them take turns working out in the Florida heat and think, “That looks hard, why would anyone want to do that?” or “I think they are taking that exercise stuff a little too seriously.

THE QUESTIONS

In defense of my own personal fears, justified myself right out of taking action on my own health. As the days passed and their consistency remained, my resolve started to waver. Instead of directing my thoughts at them, I found myself starting to look at myself. A flurry of thoughts started swirling through my mind:

What would happen if I gave myself another chance at this?
But what if I started obsessing again? What if I backslid into my old ways?

My food mindset has been healthy and whole for a long time.
What if my mindset was focused on being strong instead of being skinny?

How could I maintain a regular exercise routine while on the road?
My husband was doing it. My crazy neighbors were doing it. It must be possible.

What would happen if I committed to regular exercise?
How would that feel 6 months from now, a year from now if I didn’t quit?

Not typically one to tread lightly into new terrain, I sat on these thoughts for a few months, pulling them out every now and then to re-examine them from new angles. Out of curiosity, I researched the workout programs my neighbors were using. I discovered that they were health coaches who supported people using their programs with online accountability in the area of exercise and nutrition. I looked into the costs and discovered they were markedly less than I’d anticipated. I wondered and wavered some more.

THE CHALLENGE

On Super Bowl Sunday the men were outside in camp chairs watching a TV mounted in the bed of a truck while I found myself inside an RV surrounded by women munching on snacks and sipping wine. The topic of exercise came up. Many chimed in that this was an area they could use some accountability in. The idea of a plank challenge surfaced. Each woman would put in $25 and for one month we would practice our planks at home. We’d check in with each other and report our progress. At the end of the month, the woman with the best time overall and the woman who saw the greatest improvement would spilt the pot.

I was in.

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that I’d never done a plank before. In fact, I had to google the term to be sure that what I thought I’d just agreed to was actually accurate. My starting time was piddly but I didn’t really care.

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