Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Exercise Really Does Dress Up the Body

At the beginning of June, I went to Las Vegas not just to gamble but to also attend my sister's wedding. I knew for weeks that I was going, but the constant procrastinator in me had me packing the night before the trip.

My daughter had already shown me a really nice dress that she was thinking of wearing. I had a similar dress and as with those of us who do things at the last minute, I packed the dress, matching shoes and purse at the last second.

It was only after I got to Vegas that my inner voice chastised me for not having tried on the dress before leaving Chicago. For the past year and a half I have been unemployed, so wearing "dress" clothes hasn't been a priority. As I stared at the dress while getting ready to go to the wedding, the first thing that came to my mind was, "I hope it fits."

Well the dress did fit; barely. I had to hold my breath and suck in my stomach as my daughter struggled to zip it. "Good thing Aunt Toni won't be serving much food," my daughter told me shaking her head at the way the dress barely fit, "because you'll bust the zipper if you eat anything."

"Do I look real bad?" I asked her, not really wanting to know the answer from the child who now wears a size three and exercises every single day. She shook her head to indicate that I looked okay and we went to the wedding where I managed not to bust the zipper.

Once I returned home from Vegas I vowed to begin an exercise routine. One of my friends suggested joining a health club. I thought about it a second but my daughter goes every day to the health club and I didn't want to join her. I wanted to plan my own exercise routine that would be filled with just what I wanted to do. A friend suggested bike riding and since I had a new bike and I do like to ride I decided that was one kind of exercise I could do. Another friend suggested walking. I used to walk everyday when I was employed, but had gotten out of the habit not going to a 9 to 5 job every single day.

I decided not to choose between walking and riding but rather to do both. Down in the recesses of my basement, hidden in a corner, is my treadmill. A friend gave it to me several years ago when she moved out of state. When I first brought it home, it sat in the living room. Every now and then I would turn it on and walk. My daughter would turn it on and actually run. I didn't really want it as part of my living room d├ęcor so I had my son put it in the basement where I promptly forgot it.

I went down to the basement and looked at the treadmill. I swear it seemed like the machine actually growled at me. I turned it on hoping that it wouldn't work, but it did. So, I started an exercise routine of walking for a half-an-hour on the treadmill - five minutes of warm up, 20 minutes of cardio walking, five minutes of cool down. I followed the treadmill routine by doing a simple bike ride for three miles. That was six weeks ago. I still walk the treadmill for the half hour, but I am now able to do a longer distance in the same period of time as well as increase the calories I burn. My bike riding is now up to eight miles, which takes me just under an hour to complete.

I've lost 20 pounds so far. And have faithfully stuck to the routine every single day. My goal is to lose another 30 pounds, to have a body that is toned and to keep many of the diseases that come with obesity at bay. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease are just some of the illnesses that come with being overweight.

Exercising is becoming something I do, and, like any other habit, I am doing it without thinking too much about it. The immediate benefits, besides the weight loss, has been seeing the dark circles under my eyes fade and feeling a lot stronger and healthier.

Best of all, I don't need any help zipping up the dress that barely fit in Vegas.

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