I am struck that aging is an exercise in adaptation in many ways.
“Metatarsal Stress Fracture” utters the socially awkward physician as he fails to make eye contact with me. I am 3 hours from home in a specialist’s office being given the news, that to me, at this time in my life, feels devastating.
I have been in denial that my foot has been hurting for over a year. “Quit running and stop with extended periods of walking. You have to stay off of it and let it heal.” Not exactly what I was hoping to hear but at least thankful there’s an explanation.
Quit walking? That was my go-to for decades. The hardest part of any exercise regime is starting, just getting out the door. A psychological mind-game, if you will. Don’t feel like running? Oh well, just go for a walk. You know you can’t resist once you get out there.
And what of the reward you get from running? There is the initial feeling of fatigue, then you find your breath and your stride and you’re off. Finishing with rapid breaths, your heart rate is high and your skin glistening. Sounds euphoric and it is. Now, quit doing it.
Hanging Up My Running Shoes
Chalk it up to age, bad genetics and the repetitive stress of activity but I need to hang up my running shoes. I am by no means a running fanatic, just an easy 5k a few times a week. Some runners find their high in longer runs, which has never worked for me. I remember starting off my first 10K with a vengeance in the River Valley only to feel defeated at the sheer inability to run the whole distance. Organized races other than the opportunity to raise funds for a charity event have never inspired me. The thought of checking in and standing around waiting for the beginning took the fun out of it for me, perhaps a slightly introverted view. But can I spare 30 – 45 minutes in my day to feel “euphoric”? You bet. It’s all about what works for you.
In the past year, my exercise regime has gone out of the window. I blamed it on the psychological “over 50” syndrome. Now I am faced with “adaptation” once again.
I began adapting my exercise program at a young age. I remember my excitement at starting Tae-Kwon-Do. An overly enthusiastic mother-of-three sharing the floor with a wide range of students in our white uniforms and belts. My sole purpose was to exercise. I was dropping off kids and waiting in lobbies after work with no thought of “me” time.
I began sparring outside of class with friends. There is something extremely therapeutic about entering a ring with the sole purpose of “contacting” your opponent with a controlled yet physical blow.
We can all agree when you’re doing something you like, it really doesn’t feel like exercise.
Yoga Is My Next Try
My adaptation today is YOGA. Looking for an option that reduced joint impact and inflammation, I looked to our town’s webpage to see what was being offered. Yoga, although it has been around for centuries seems to have developed a new following.
I was extremely skeptical about my first class. There was a lot of talkback running through my head like I am a gym type of person, not YOGA. Where are these preconceived notions coming from? They are definitely false. So I convince my exercise partner, who too after 45, has been adapting to relieve an injury, to come too. There are strength and comfort in numbers. We enrolled through a great new App “MindBody”.
It is amazing the technology out there today. This hits it on many levels for me. No person to talk to, just pick your class, pay and show up. I settled down on my yoga mat that was available at the front desk for free trials, elated that all you required was comfortable clothes, no shoes, no socks. Even in a hectic state, after work, I could remember to bring my feet.
And hectic the day was. We all have them. When your day starts with running out the door, coffee sloshing over the cup. Grabbing the keys, trying to get your head in the game, followed by constant conflict at the office, no time for lunch and then back out the door…. to exercise. It was not exactly motivational.
I sat on my mat, looking around, confirming my perception of Yoga. Not going to be much of a workout everyone sat quietly, legs crossed, eyes closed.
A smirk crossed my face. I was used to the clanging of weights and groans (yes, they groan) from the stations throughout the gym. Quite a transition.
Do What Feels Right For Your Body
My instructor enters and takes her spot at the front of the class. “Lengthen your spine, leave all your concerns and stresses and breathe deeply in a full belly breath and exhale. Concentrate on your Ujayyi breath. This is your practice, do what feels right for you and your body. Your practice will differ from side to side and day to day. Don’t concentrate on what the person next to you is doing but on you.”
She leads us through challenging yet relaxing poses. You hold each pose for several seconds. My body starts shaking with the controlled resistance from my body’s weight. A very deliberate, controlled movement of stretching, balancing, and strength. I have never felt that combination in other exercise programs.
I try sun salutations, crow pose, and warrior poses all which feel good to my body. We end the class with “Savasana” the corpse pose aptly named. Palms up, body relaxed and stretched out my instructor quietly instructs. “Scan the body from head to toe looking for tension to release”. I am hooked.
Namaste means I bow to you. May peace and positivity fill the rest of your day. I left the studio with the most enlightened state of just that peace and positivity. I always believe in fate. It isn’t great that I have to hang up my running shoes, but I never would have become a Yogi had that change not transpired in my life.
“Adaptation” learn to go with the flow is essential in exercise. today?
What exercise story do you have to share today?