Artwork: StoryPeople by Brian Andreas

Remarkably, in the last year and a half, the one healthy habit I haven’t given up entirely is exercise.

I say “remarkably” because I truly, to the depths of my soul, hate it. Really. A lot.

I’ve never been athletic. I simply didn’t get that gene.

In elementary school, I remember wishing fervently that I would be diagnosed with a degenerative disease that would excuse me from gym class. (I’m not sure I actually used the word “degenerative” back then but who knows? I was a bright child.)

In 4th grade, I told my teacher that I had sprained my ankle so that I could sit out track and field day and avoid the embarrassment of coming in last place in every event. I doubt she bought my story (especially since I couldn’t keep straight which ankle was supposedly sprained) but to this day, I am grateful that she had mercy on me.

I tried participating in basketball but was called for traveling every time I had the ball. The whole dribble/run thing was beyond me.

And yes, I was the one who endured the humiliation of always being chosen last in every playground game.

As an adult, I joined and quit the gym more times than I can count. It was too smelly, too sweaty, too grunty. And I was sure that the gym rats were judging me, just as they had in grade school.

Then one day, after I had joined Weight Watchers for the 47th time, I decided to try working out at home. I heard of this DVD called “The Firm” (not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie because who would work out to that?). It promised results in 10 workouts or my money back. Heck, what have I got to lose, I thought.

So I ordered the “Transfirmer” set, took my measurements and dared it to give me results.

And holy crapballs…it did!

Not HUGE changes after those first 10 workouts but enough to motivate me to keep going.

At first, even with that motivation, it was hard to make myself get out of bed an hour earlier but I would say to myself, “You can stay in bed and go back to what you were. Or you can get out of bed  and keep going forward.” And almost every time, I made the choice to move forward.

I wish I could say that I fell in love with exercise and sweat and grunting. But the truth is I didn’t. What I DID love was watching my body change. I loved seeing new muscles pop up. I loved watching my tummy get flatter. I loved being able to lift a grocery sack full of cans with little effort. I loved being able to go up the stairs without getting winded.

And now here I am, 7 years later, still getting out of bed and working out 3-5 mornings a week. I still have muscles, even if they’re currently hidden under a layer of sugar cookies and French bread. And yes…I still hate exercise. Really. A lot. But in this one area of my life, I’m not willing to go back.