I am the least physically active person you ever will meet, and I blame Mr. Fiddler.
Mr. Fiddler was my elementary school PE teacher for first through fifth grades. Now, I was a tiny child. I have always been short for my age, and I was tiny. There were other small girls in my class; Kristy Kostas, for instance. But she didn't get the same special treatment I did. She was actually pretty athletic. When we did the Presidential Fitness Test, she could do the bar hang longer than any girl in our class.
Mr. Fiddler never made me do anything in PE class. Like, literally pulled me to the side and said, "You stand here by me," while the rest of the class did calisthenics and ran laps around the back stop. Sometimes I pulled a jump rope out of a box and entertained myself. Mostly I just stood by Mr. Fiddler and watched the other kids get physical education.
By sixth grade, I'd been diagnosed with back issues. The doctors told me not to participate in physical activity. So I got out of all the required PE classes in junior high. I played no sports. I played the piano. Sitting down.
In my 20s I tried to get into step aerobics for a while with my friends. I did okay. I didn't stick with it. Later in my 40s I did the Couch-to-5K. I stuck with it for a while until I started having joint issues in my knees and hips. I never made it to 5K. I've done yoga off and on for years but that doesn't really count, does it? I didn't do hot yoga or yoga on a paddle board. I did simple stretches in beginning yoga classes for the sake of my back. For a while there I even did chair yoga! Yoga made me realize that I was so weak I didn't have the arm strength to hold myself up in downward dog.
So that's the background. That's the kind of person we're dealing with here.
About two months ago, I decided to take the One Year No Beer challenge. A couple of Brits started it to challenge the idea that alcohol helps us relax, sleep or be more social. They use a lot of sports psychology to help you replace drinking in your habit cycle with things that actually do accomplish what we seek through alcohol - like meditation and exercise. They offer 30-, 90- and 365-day challenges. I signed up for the 90-day. I wanted to do it for my health - like a cleanse. You know, like Dry January.
At first I was super tired, I think because alcohol is metabolized in the body like sugar. So this was the equivalent of cutting out a couple glasses of sugar intake a day. But by Day 30 or so I realized that I was sleeping so much better! SO MUCH better. It stopped being so hard to get up for work in the mornings. I had more energy. The extra energy lasted the whole day. I started taking better care of my skin because I wasn't falling into bed exhausted. I invested in a fantastic new skincare line that I am absolutely in love with. I had more money. I didn't drink cheap wine, yo.
The way I see it, alcohol is a poison that we ingest and our bodies must work to remove. Drinking daily, even moderate amounts, means the body never gets out of that recovery mode. It's always working to remove these excessive toxins instead of proactively working in the way that it was built to.
Chip & I went to New York on vacation. I had front row tickets to see Laura Benanti in My Fair Lady. And I remember every amazing moment of that experience because I was sober and completely present for it. After we came home, I went to Virginia Beach to see my friend Carmen over the 4th of July. She told me to bring my exercise clothes and I could go to her Zumba class with her. So I did.
I was horrible at it, of course. I didn't know the routines and I didn't know what I was doing. But it was fun. It felt like something I could do...on the regular. With some of this excess energy I'd been granted. I came home and started researching local gyms.
We actually have some pretty nice places very close to my house. But I was looking for something specific: Classes that A) I would enjoy enough to stick with, and B) wouldn't hurt my back. So Zumba, yoga, water fitness. Naturally, the cool gyms by my house don't offer "ladies classes" on nights and weekends. So shoutout to the YMCA for supporting working women's fitness, too.
I found, to my surprise, that the more I exercised, the more I craved it and wanted to exercise more. My original goal was three times I week but I can't stop myself from going every day. I started eating better, too. I always told myself I could eat whatever I wanted if I got some regular exercise. Turns out when I'm getting regular exercise I don't want to eat fast food.
It's like I don't even know who I am anymore. I'm surprised Apple hasn't sent me an email, "Ms. Hyman, We suspect your Apple Watch may have been stolen."