Diary of a Fitness Wannabe

USA Soccer Team

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

—US Code Section 20

This 1972 law affected the life of every school-aged girl across America. Title IX allowed us to play sports, expanding the definition of what it means to be feminine. Girls, if we so choose, may be as athletic and competitive as our counterparts. Pretty cool, huh!

I, for one, took advantage of this new freedom throughout elementary and high school. In college, I flirted with rugby and racquetball, but my true loves were weightlifting and running. In fact, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) and I exercised together. How romantic, right? Not. He’s uber-competitive and sweats a lot. To be fair, he says I jogged slower than he walked. True. I never claimed to be a sport superstar. I just enjoy being active.

Thin Thighs in 30 Days by Wendy Stehling

In the 80’s, I was working in midtown Manhattan so my fitness routine morphed into walking. I also swore by a little book called Thin Thighs in Thirty Days. I wish I had taken photos of my legs back then. They are but a distant memory. (On a side note, I ordered a new book! I’ll let you know on September 1st if the book works for slightly older thighs like mine.)

With marriage, we moved to the suburbs and a more sedentary life. To combat an increasing waistline, I rose early to exercise with TV fitness guru Denise Austin most weekday mornings. Her spunky kindness and real-life body kept me motivated, even on cold winter days.

Once we became home owners, my husband and I created a little workout room in our garage. We have enjoyed a Nordic Track, stationary bike, and treadmill in that room over the years. What’s great about it, too, is that when our kids see us using the free weights or other machines, they want to join in.

A backyard pool can be another fun way to get some exercise without the whole perspiration factor. In addition to floating around, maybe wade, tread water, or swim. I’m not a strong swimmer at the beginning of the season, so I’ll use a boogie board to focus either on arms or legs activity until I get back into the laps routine. Water is great for resistance exercises, too.

When talking with other women about their exercise routines, the two most common reasons I hear for why they don’t exercise or keep to an exercise regimen are 1.) not enough time and 2.) boredom. Believe me, as a writer with a day job and demanding family, I understand the time issue. I generally devote 20-30 minutes to exercise a day. Try not to feel guilty about taking time away from your family. Look at it this way, if you stay healthy, you’re around longer to care for them. If you don’t get to exercise on a particular day, no big deal. Just try not to miss two consecutive days. Otherwise, you may fall out of the habit.

As for boredom, mix it up! You can see by the variety of activities I’ve enjoyed over the decades that my interests and skill levels have changed. I no longer run, but I swim and do Pilates. Small weight routines are easy to fit in throughout the day, too.  I keep cute little dumbbells in my laundry room to do arm sets in between chores. No underarm wings for this girl! If you’re unsure about how to do exercises, ask the experts. I like Shape magazine’s online activities for new workout ideas and step-by-step explanations so I do the activity correctly and don’t hurt myself. Some of my friends enjoy going to yoga class together, others walk at lunchtime and still others are into biking. One of my nieces recently learned how to box and another is active in adult league softball and soccer.

In a ShapeFit article about why women may dislike exercise, one reason given is that we’re not necessarily in it to compete. Many of us “want is to get a good workout and avoid getting muffins and rolls around our bodies, yet keep eating them.” I know many women (i.e. the women in the top photo) who would strongly disagree with that statement, yet it rings true for me.

Post 1972, we girls have so many choices when it comes to physical activity. If you don’t exercise, what are your reasons? If you do, what kinds of sports or other workouts do you enjoy? What advice would you give to other women to help make exercise a pleasure rather than a chore?   Please note:  I’ve rated this blog as PG. 😉

This blog is my personal experience and opinion. The information contained here doesn’t intend to treat, diagnose, or cure any physical ailments. Please consult your physician before starting any new diets or exercises!

30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 08:11:23

    I am reading this while sweating from the three mile walk with the dog and before my blasted daily Wii weigh-in. I try to get in some kind of exercise to keep the rolls at the Friehoffer store and the “Bingo” arms from developing.My husband and I also started golfing this summer as another form of some kind of movement that doesn’t involve a remote. Also I hope to practice some moves that resemble dancing inpreparation for my daughter’s upcoming wedding. I loved your stories,,,keep writing!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 13:15:07

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for commenting! I cannot imagine walking THREE miles in this heat wave, especially with a dog. PLUS you’re going to do Wii Fitness? Way to go, girl! Golf seems like such a relaxing sport, and one where you can compete against yourself instead of everyone around you. I bet it’s a wonderful activity to take up with your spouse, since physcial strength isn’t the primary factor in doing well. Congratulations on your daughter’s upcoming wedding! I’m sure you’ll do great!

      Thanks, also, for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  2. Christine Ashworth
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:07:36

    Jolyse, I’m a fitness buff, too. I walk, run, do yoga, pilates, lift weights, swim, kayak – it’s just the joy of moving through space that makes me a happy girl. I am counting the days until my leg bone heals up and I can get back to fitness walking – in the meantime, weights and core exercises keep me going. Great post!

  3. Jolyse Barnett
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:11:56

    Wow, Christine! You’re super-fit-woman! We bought a kayak last year but I’ve yet to get out on it. Husband uses it a lot for fishing though. Good luck with your leg, you poor thing.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:13:42

    I ride my bike almost every day. When it’s cold I ride the stationary bike in the house but get to mix it up when the weather’s good by taking my “real” bike outside and looking at the beautiful scenery. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t do it every day, so I try to fit in yoga 2 or 3 times a week to keep my back healthy because I ride my horse. Not getting bored it crucial.
    Thanks for the post.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:37:30

      Yeah, I love bike riding too, but the traffic is way too busy in my neighborhood for me to take the risk. I do ride bikes when we’re on vacation, though, and I love it!

      A friend and I are going to take a “hot yoga” class this fall. Have you heard about it? Sounds like a great stress reliever.

  5. Catie Rhodes
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:19:40

    Jolyse, I admire your resolve. I loathe exercising and haven’t done it for at least five years.

    I would much rather work hard than exercise for the sake of exercising. I clean my house seven days a week. I move around some, and I have a *really* clean house.

    Granted, it is nowhere near as effective as the workouts I did 6 days a week in my 20s. LOL

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:43:09

      Hi Catie!

      If you’re cleaning your house daily, you’re getting exercise! Sounds like you get satisfaction from it, too, so that’s always good.

      I view housecleaning as a necessary evil, especially dishwashing. My sister-in-law on the other hand, enjoys it so much she offers to hand wash our dishes instead of me running the dishwasher. If it makes her happy, who am I to argue?? 😉

  6. Maggie Van Well
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 11:28:46

    I exercise on and off, but once I miss two or more days, I get lazy and stop going to the gym. It’s so true, don’t miss more than a day or before you know it, you’ve missed a year

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:47:27

      I hear ya, Maggie. I allude to this problem in my post’s title. I can keep up with exercising for months on end, but as soon as I’m sidelined by injury, illness, or other life demands…I fall out of the habit. If only it were as easy to fall into it!

  7. Dawn Berkoski
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:09:06

    Pets are great for keeping in shape. My dog wakes me up every morning by jumping on my bed. If I don’t get up and take her for her morning walk she sits on my head. Talk about a tough coach! 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:48:53

      Thanks for stopping by, Dawn!

      Another great example of how pets are healthy for us. I don’t know that I’d want my dog sitting on my head, either. Too funny!

  8. Sandy Rowland
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:21:06

    I must work out or I’m not happy or productive. Thanks for the encouragement.
    For me, I can get distracted by other things and wait to get around to moving my body. I need to put me first. Does pulling weeds count?

    Thanks for the great blog.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 13:06:33

      Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for sharing! I totally agree with you. I’m my happiest and most productive when I’m active. I think that’s part of why people get so depressed in the winter months. Yes, put YOU first, and you’ll be better company for your friends and family. Weed pulling..let me think about that one. I think it counts insofar as you’re working instead of eating. Plus your garden/yard is prettier as a result of your efforts There’s something to be said for that, as well. 🙂

  9. pj sharon
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 20:06:02

    My day job is as a massage therapist and personal trainer, so I am forced to practice what I preach. Since I have chosen the path to indie publishing, I now have two full time jobs and finding time to exercise is becoming more of a challenge.

    There is a reason that variety is the spice of life. I am a huge advocate of cross training. I do my core workout of aerobics and strength training twice a week and then add functional activitiies as often as I can. Walking, kayaking, gardening, whatever I can do that is outdoors and enjoyable. Being fit and healthy makes me a better writer. Fitness is a choice and if you don’t make it a priority, your health and productivity will eventually suffer.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2011 @ 22:20:39

      Well, I leave it to you as the expert! Thanks for the advice of how to split up exercise time.

      My dream as a young twenty-something was to be a bodybuilder. That never happened since I had to pay the bills. My focus has changed as I age. I used to just want to look great. Now it’s more important to me to feel great.

      I agree it’s challenging to find the time with two full-time jobs. I think with practice, we’ll get better at juggling everything. Right?

  10. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 00:47:48

    I don’t exercise like I should. I like to exercise in the morning, blasting my music while on the treadmill. Then I turn the music off and work out on the Total gym. Since my husband is retired he is usually going back to bed when I’m getting up so that’s why I don’t do it as often as I should. I aslo like free weights but haven’t done that in a very long time.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 08:11:38

      Hi Donna!

      I used to feel like I didn’t exercise as much as I should, then I started focusing on what I did accomplish in a day instead of what I hadn’t. It’s helped me stay positive and not quit altogether.

      I try to workout when my husband isn’t available to hang out with me. Maybe when your husband is sleeping is actually your perfect “me time.” If you like to blast the music, use an Ipod so you both get what you want.

      Just some thoughts. Have a wonderful week! I’m off to swim laps before writing.

  11. Marilyn Levinson
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 09:35:02

    I go to aerobics class three times a week, and in the summer go to water aerobics the other two days. And I walk when the weather permits. I mean to exercise on the ball at home, but never do. If it weren’t for my classes, the only exercise I’d get would be walking.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 13:29:09

      Hi Marilyn!

      It seems like you’ve made aerobics class part of your life, and it works for you. That’s terrific! I’m not anywhere as methodical about my exercise routine. I like to mix it up. Also, my home schedule makes it difficult to join a long-term class. I’d end up missing half of them!

      Keep on moving and having fun. 🙂

  12. Julie Glover
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 10:55:56

    I HATE “working out.” Basically, I dislike anything that feels like exercise for the sake of exercise. But I love being active, and I enjoy a challenge. One year, I set out to ride my bike down every street in my town; day by day, I went down new streets and marked them off on my map, learning a lot about my town along the way. My current favorite is Zumba, which feels like dancing not exercising. However, I’m about to start a new routine called Thrive90 – which is a 3-month plan to get in shape with 20-minute routines six days a week. We’ll see how that goes! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 13:31:58

      Thanks for sharing, Julie!

      I’ve heard a lot about Zumba. I was thinking about trying it, although I’m not extremely coordinated. I’ll have to check out Thrive90. Twenty-minute exercise slots work well for me.

      Good luck and enjoy. I’d love to hear about your progress, too.

  13. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 01:46:43

    I was thinking of getting an Ipod but I keep hitting the emergency stop cord I attach to myself. I figured I’d pull out my ears if I used one. I don’t have pockets in my workout clothes. : )

  14. Jeannie Moon
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 06:42:07

    I’m trying hard to get in shape, although I have fallen off the wagon recently. Someone said as long as I don’t let a bump in the road become a brick wall, I’ll be okay. Trying to get back to my routine now. It’s not easy, but I always feel happier with myself when I exercise. Good luck on your own quest. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 28, 2011 @ 08:01:34

      Hi Jeannie,

      Don’t worry about what you haven’t done, focus on what you’ve accomplished. When I’m struggling to get motivated to exercise, I’ll tell myself I only have to do ten minutes. Chances are, I’ll end up wanting to do more. Also, don’t confuse going to the gym as the only way to workout. Walking your dog or housecleaning can count toward your goals, too.

      Thanks for the encouragement. The book I ordered arrived in the mail yesterday. The hardest part for me will be squeezing in all that walking time.

  15. Aine Greaney, author, "Writer with a Day Job"
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 09:19:42

    Interesting blog and post. As a busy author with a 3/4 time day job and a packed writing schedule, I sometimes find myself having to choose between writing and fitness. I find that power walking serves double-purpose as it lets me brain storm on my latest writing project while also getting some exercise. But I think it’s something that writers with a day job often have to struggle with: giving up some other daily activities in the name of carving out some writing time. And, like it or not, sometimes for me, the daily workout gets ditched. Errr ….

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 31, 2011 @ 13:54:49

      Thanks for stopping by, Aine!

      I can be “writing” productive for only so long. That’s when I take a break and do some small weight reps or jumping jacks with one of my kids. Power walking is terrific for “think time.” I understand your angst. This is a problem for me, too. On those days, I try to park my car farther from my day job entrance, I take the stairs, and try to stand more than sit. Good luck with your efforts!

  16. Aine Greaney
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 16:40:10

    Thanks, Jolyse. Love the jumping jacks idea. Weight reps, too. Have some small ones downstairs that I can bring in the office. Good thoughts.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 02, 2011 @ 13:27:07

      Happy to help, Aine. I have my kid do jumping jacks with me so I don’t look so silly, and of course, because it gets the kid moving too–away from that Wii, computer, or TV for awhile.

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