by Kellie Boyle
Many adults come to counseling telling me they are aware of the importance of exercise but fitting it into their hectic schedule of a full-time job, kids, kids’ practices and extracurricular events plus commute time is nearly impossible. Other adults can find the time; however, the thought of exercise sounds miserable and the absolute last thing they want to be doing. I’ve had a few tips for them, that I’d like to also share with you.
Don’t call it exercise. If you are telling yourself you have to make time to exercise or go to the gym, when you are someone who dreads the so-called ‘gym’ or the word ‘exercise’, this will be much harder for you. It’s like telling yourself you must eat your broccoli tonight. Call it whatever you want to call it: “Heart work” “stress relief” “power hour”, heck, you could call it “boys night” if you want. Many people cringe when they think about stepping inside of a gym or the thought of stepping on a treadmill. It’s simpler than you have imagined; you don’t have to do either to exercise. Exercise can be putting on some music in your basement and dancing while you pick up all of your kids’ toys, it can be a walk around the neighborhood with your husband after dinner, it can be throwing the Frisbee with your dog, hiking to a beautiful waterfall, or even running down the sidelines as you coach your daughter’s soccer game. Are you someone who once enjoyed contact sports? Go join a rec league basketball team or a fun kickball team. Bottom line, be creative. There are several ways you can get exercise without stepping foot inside a gym.
Work it in with chores or parenting. Ok, so your kids and spouse may think you are strange if they see you doing jumping jacks in the middle of the hallway, but if you’ve got 2 minutes, you’ve got 2 minutes. If you are picking your kid up out of the crib, do a squat before you reach in and then after with your kid in your arms. Make silly faces at them each time you do a push up as they are practicing tummy time. Play hide and go seek with your kids. And really hide and really bend and stretch to get into those close corners. Make excuses to walk up and down your stairs, whether it’s carrying one laundry load at a time, or checking in on your teenager who hasn’t come out of their room in 4 hours. Incorporating your kids into these activities can be a great way to introduce them to healthy living also. Pets are other good excuses for exercise.
No matter where you are, you can almost always think of a way to exercise. Beach? Take a walk on the beach before you reach for that 4th Corona or bring out the boogie board you haven’t used in years. Just lugging around sand and water from the shore to the sandcastle is exercise. Work trip? Take the stairs. Most hotels these days have gyms and pools. Can’t do an hour workout? Do 15 minutes at a higher intensity. Or your normal intensity. It’s better than nothing at all.
I’ve seen people who absolutely despised exercise earlier in life become much more involved in their health and fitness because they have been able to find something that they really enjoy. Dance classes, yoga, even bowling can be a form of exercise. You could even get that purple jumpsuit Jesus wears in “The Big Lebowski.” (Major bonus points from your 5-year old, not so much from your 12-year old).
To summarize, if you can find something you enjoy doing or you can find some sort of activity that gets your heart rate up, even if it is not your typical type of exercise, it will be less of a chore and challenge for you. Start small, don’t beat yourself up if you skip, and go for that gold.
Running as My Therapy
By Kellie Boyle
“Run like the Wind Blows”. A headline I chose, as a yearbook contributor, to use when writing an article for my track team back in high school. Back then, I was much less interested in long distance running and the idea of running for pleasure or to stay healthy did not quite make sense. Sprinting and high contact sports made much more logical sense to me. I would have never believed if you told me then years later, I would become to love long distance running and actually and willingly participate for relaxation.
I first noticed the benefit of exercise and running when I took my first job out of undergrad. I was working at a day treatment center for kids with emotional and behavioral disorders. I loved my job but as most people who have worked in the mental health field know, it can definitely take a toll on you emotionally and physically. I started running two miles on the treadmill. Before that, I was never challenged or asked to run more than that, but for some reason I thought let’s make it a goal to run 3 miles. Running gave me strength and power and a feeling of sensation I never expected to get. It was so readily available. All I needed was a pair of shoes and a hair tie. I quickly saw the results and was at the gym religiously for at least 3-4 days a week. It was part of my routine, and it worked better for me as therapy then sleeping in or sitting around the house watching TV.
Not long after moving to Charlotte, NC to attend grad school, I took advantage of the warmer weather and started running outside much more frequently. There was a beautiful trail that went around a lake that was close by to my apartment. I loved that trail because I knew it was 1.5 miles long exactly. It was then that I got a call from my best friend stating a friend of hers was planning to run the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. Um, a road trip to Nashville? Of course I’m in! Okay, so what turned out to be me wanting to go to Nashville for the weekend ended up me becoming a marathon junkie. I started training immediately. I was finishing up my spring semester as race time approached. I stuck to a very strict schedule of wake up at 6:00am, go to internship all day until 2pm. Go to work, go to class, and rarely got home while it was still light out. Running was fit anywhere in between and mostly long runs were saved for the weekends. People would say to me “great for you, but I don’t have time for it”. Well, I have just as much time as they did, but I made the time because it was part of my routine to stay healthy and happy. Much like eating and sleeping (which everyone makes time for), we make these priorities because we all know we need these to survive. To me, running, or some form of exercise was just as important. It releases endorphins in our brains that make us happy, it releases the stress, anger and pressure of everything we have to get done and it allows us to push that negativity out of our body. It allows us to get fresh air, doze off into space, daydream, use mindfulness to notice the beauty of nature; the sights and sounds, the sunlight and cold breeze touching our face.
So, after a 7.5 hour drive to Nashville, I arrived the day before race day ready to pick up my packet and walk around Music City. Little did I know this half marathon happening tomorrow would change my life forever. On race day, I woke up and it was raining. I borrowed a friend’s hat to keep the water out of my face. (I can run in anything but I hate strongly dislike running in rain with water splashing my eyeballs). I started the race solo, but ended up running into a childhood friend who happened to be doing the race, around mile 2. We completed the rest of the race together, enjoying for each of us our first half marathon, seeing the sites of downtown Nash, experiencing bands of country and rock at every mile, while catching up along the way. The thrill of crossing the finish line was so unbelievable. My favorite part of the entire race is the last sprint down to the finish line. So many spectators lined up cheering, ringing cow bells, it’s like your 15 seconds of fame each time coming down that chute. I felt so good, and proud of myself. I also earned my right to hang out and relax, eat and drink whatever I wanted the rest of the day.
I love to travel, and so shortly after crossing that finish line I said to myself “I am going to make it a goal to run a half marathon in every state”. I said this in April 2008. I told this idea to many people when asking about my first experience in Nashville. I got the impression from most of them as they just nodded their head and thought “sure” not thinking it was likely I would actually achieve the goal. And I haven’t yet, but I’m sure on my way. Never let anyone make you believe you can’t do something. Because you can. The sky is the limit. Almost 9 years later, I have now completed 2 full marathons, and 30 half marathons. Thirty-one of those races have been in the states, and one was running the Authentic Marathon in Athens, Greece. Running destinations below (in no particular order):
Hilton Head, SC
New Orleans, LA
Las Vegas, NV
Kansas City, MO
New Brunswick, NJ
Severna Park, MD
If you’ve given running a shot, and it’s not your thing, that’s ok. Find something else that gives you that life, that feeling of peacefulness and hope. I’ve heard of others getting that same thrill out of arts and crafts, scrapbook making, yoga, bike riding, kayaking, hiking, soccer, knitting, and cooking. Find your niche. Believe me, once you find it you will know. And it will be a beautiful thing.