I Suck at Exercising

I have a feature on the cover of–wait a sec, let me pop another piece of chocolate in my mouth–the Jefferson Monthly, a magazine that goes out to 10,500 readers in the listening area of our local NPR affiliate.

My husband helped me write it. He stayed up late last night crafting a letter to a couple of his friends in Buffalo, who are both in their 40s now and have both become obese. He’s worried about them. His plan is to send the letter along with copies of the magazine. And to do it gently and gracefully, in a way that will inspire not offend.

Sigh. The last time I weighed myself the numbers on the scale were very discouraging.

Yesterday when I did some circuit training I hurt my lower back. It was bleak and rainy and cold outside. I put on my running shoes, my three year old wailing like her heart was broken in a thousand pieces. I could still hear her as I went down the porch steps. “I wan go with Mommy! I wan go with Mommy!”

I hit the heavy bag in our garage in a lackluster way for a few minutes. Then I tried to go running. I really did. But I felt a heavy horrible weight on my heart. So I went back inside and nursed my toddler instead.

At about five o’clock Leone, Athena, and I walked to our friend’s house who had a baby five days ago to deliver her an organic dinner of beef barley vegetable stew, homemade bread rolls with garbanzo bean and brown rice flour, grapefruit, and pineapple. We huffed up her long steep hill. I pretended that counted as exercise.

It’s so easy to know what you need to do to be fit and healthy.

It’s so much harder to actually do it.

The people I interviewed for the article inspired me.

My inconsistency in the exercise department depresses me.

If you want to read the article, in all its glory, you can find it here.

I was a bit over word count. This pull-out box, of interest to local readers, got axed in the editing process. So I’m including it here:

Resources for Runners:
Rogue Valley Runners (161 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon, 541-201-0014), a running specialty store, also sponsors local races and hosts weekly group runs, 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays for men, 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays for women (5-10 miles, all levels welcome).

Southern Oregon Runners (541-951-1593) is a running club that publishes a local newsletter, puts on local area events, offers members discounts at running stores in Eugene, Grants Pass, and Ashland and inspires people of all ages and fitness levels to go out and do their miles.

Area Zumba Classes:
April Fidura teaches Zumba at Kids Unlimited (821 North Riverside Drive; Medford, Oregon), Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. First class free.

Zumba classes at Ashland Family YMCA (540 YMCA Way, Ashland, Oregon; 541-482-9622) are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. Call for times.

If You Want to Try Rowing:
Ashland Rowing Club is a non-profit dedicated to both indoor and outdoor rowing. They offer clinics, coaching, and private lessons, and once you learn how to row you can become a member.

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Categories: exercise.


  1. I know it’s hard to find the motivation AND the time to exercise when you’re out of the habit. One way to make the time consideration easier is to do High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE) which can fit into almost any schedule. HIIE is the form of exercise I recommend to patients when they need to step up their level of activity, whether they’re starting from sedentary, moderate, or just bored.

    Highly effective for exercise’s beneficial effects (weight loss is NOT one of them – that’s all about what you eat), HIIE can be demonstrated quickly, learned easily, and fit into any schedule. After some gentle warm up (walk, carry the baby, put away the dishes, mop the floor), I suggest people do 20 seconds “ON”, hard and fast doing anything with your own body weight: push-ups (girl push-ups or even leaning against the kitchen counter push-ups), sit-ups, running upstairs, or squats. Then you take your 10-90 seconds “OFF”, keep moving but nothing hard. Repeat that cycle 3 more times, you’ve done 4 cyles. Work your way up to 8 cycles, that’s one set. When you start seeing great results, you might want to do two sets!

    The really good news is that you should only do HIIE twice a week! So in less than 15 minutes, requiring no special equipment, you can get strong so you feel energized, and then want to come out and try a spin around the lake in one of our learn to row sessions!

  2. susan selfridge

    I used to obsess about exercising (or missing it) until I realized it was a set up for failure on so many levels. I, happily now, am always aware of it, as I am of eating right. And, sleeping right. I find it is very subject to phases and moods and I simply make an effort to move my body, somehow, way, evry day and when I don’t.. .. Oh well. What is the point of living longer, miserably? That’s just my take, now, at 61. I fretted similarly until I was 60.

  3. My husband and I try to exercise by walking three times a week. We walk for 45 minutes. We are fortunate to live by the sea, which provides an ever-changing landscape to admire as we walk. What I want to add to this discussion, however, is the comment that obesity is a modern problem produced, in my opinion, from diet. Everyone should watch the documentary Food, Inc. which explains how easy it is to gain weight eating items that are available at the supermarket. High fructose corn syrup has made America an nation of folks who weigh too much. I heard on the CBS News last night that one high school in Missouri is fighting obesity as a group. 40% of the student body is overweight. These people are beyond exercise. Now the school cafeteria serves salads. I think parents can help schools by focusing in on the problem of the quality of food available in the USA today. If citizens get involved, perhaps we can affect change, which government agencies hesitate to touch due to the enormous amounts of money involved and the corporations which own our food supply.

  4. So sympathetic on this one! I can remember getting up at 5 a.m. when our kids are young (and I’m not, believe me, a morning person) so I could exercise to a Jane Fonda video. It was the only time I had. But then I got the flu and thought, what am I, crazy? and knocked it off. Trouble is, you now need more than 24 hours in a day.
    Ruth Pennebaker recently posted…Every Adult is a Gifted AdultMy Profile

  5. I think we tend to go through phases where we are fitter or less fit–but not completely unfit. You still move around a lot–a lot more than the average person. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to get fitter, just that it’s not worth beating yourself up over. Kids won’t always be young. Some day you will have plenty of time to exercise. Right now the lifestyle movement is really still great.
    Alisa Bowman recently posted…The Gift of OkayMy Profile

  6. You may not know that, aside from a travel writer, I’m also an exercise physiologist and nutritionist. And, over the past year, for myself I’ve found the best way to stay fit and it only takes 2 minutes. (And who doesn’t have time for 2 minutes.) It’s speed jump roping. I do 200 jumps in 2 minutes. I do it once or twice a day. And I’ve found it’s boosted my aerobic capacity and muscle endurance dramatically. (And I was fit to start with.) It’s a cheap exercise, convenient and there’s no learning curve.

  7. Myra lou

    I always want to get up early and go for a run, but I inevitably wake up my children by accident and then it is too hard to get out the door.

    I have this fantasy about having a random jogging club where we just take off spontaneously and laugh the whole way! That way we exercise our hearts and minds.

    Thanks for the gentle fitness reminder Jennifer.

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