Monday, April 25, 2011

Exercise: for most of my life it's just been a chore. True, I enjoyed martial arts when I practiced them, although haven't fit them into my schedule for the past five years or so. And I like the nice views and breeze in my face of biking on country roads, but my bike has remained in Vermont all the time I've lived down here in the DC area. And in college, it was really convenient to work out for a while - I had more free time than I do as an adult, of course, and the gym was just around the corner from my dorm, and for a while I was going there anyway for physical therapy for my bad knee. But I've never got any physical activity worth mentioning at work or in hobbies pursued purely for fun in the past 10 years. This means that if I want to avoid visible obesity I need to either eat like a bird or set aside regular time for relatively strenuous exercise. And I wasn't interested in eating like a bird.

I've tried to do exercise regularly ever since at my current job, with varying degrees of success. But like I said, it was a chore. I've read people talking about enjoying it, getting a pleasurable sensation, some kind of visceral rush from exercise. For quite a while that used to leave me curious and wondering if there was something wrong with me. I don't remember ever noticing that before the gym this winter. I'm certainly proud when I do unusually well at something or other, and like I said the wind in my face while biking obviously feels nice, but I never actually enjoyed exercise itself at all until I started going to the gym three times a weekly like clockwork. Weird.

But even that was a problem. 20 minutes jogging, once you count time to change clothes and warm up and cool down and shower and change clothes back, seriously added up to almost an hour for me. Doable if you're serious about it, but quite a lot of time to carve out several times a week. So even once exercise is mildly enjoyable, it's still a big time commitment, and for my adult life the idea has been to find the best way to squeeze it into my day without interfering with anything else.

All this is a roundabout way of leading up to the discovery of something better: biking home. I sign out a bike from a station near my office (sort of) and sign it back in at a station near my house, and it only actually takes 10 minutes or so longer than the metro. I planned to start Monday but realized at work that I'd forgotten my helmet. Tuesday, though, I biked, and it went even better than I expected. If I can stick with this - and I see no reason not to, barring the occasional day I need to get home ASAP or go somewhere else after work instead - then I'll bet I can lose 15 pounds by winter. (Hypothetically I could lose more than that, of course, but what's the goal here?)

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