Over the years, since getting my lap band, exercise has moved up on my priority list. First it was a chore, then something I didn’t mind doing, eventually exercise became something I looked forward to and now, well, I’m addicted to exercise. Actually I think I’m addicted to those happy endorphins that I get from a good workout and I love the fact that after spending most of my life in an obese body I actually have well defined muscles, especially in my arms. That may not be amazing for some people, but for me, for someone who struggled with her weight all her life, it’s an awesome feeling.
So when I had a recent medical procedure (I’m fine), and my doctor told me I could get back to aerobic activity but I
was banned from lifting for 6 weeks, I panicked. Then as I began commiserating with myself, wondering how to avoid making excuses, I picked up a copy of this month’s issue (June 2010) of Women’s Health magazine and found an article entitled “Swim Your Butt Off!” The lead in read: “Swimming is one of the best workouts for torching fat, trimming inches and getting toned…” How many times have I read a tag line like this for an article about the newest, greatest exercise program? But this one came to me at just the right time.
I’ve always thought that swimming was a great way to get started on an exercise program for those of us on this Banded Living journey who suffer from joint problems. I just don’t know why I never considered swimming as a form of exercise for me at this point in my journey.
As a kid, I always loved to swim. Swimming was always a great equalizer for me. Even with my weight, I was a really good swimmer. I was on a swim team. I lifeguarded as a summer job. My family belonged to a pool club each summer, while I was growing up in NYC. I was in the water all day, every day of the summer. I remember being 12 or 13. It was towards the end of the summer. I swam every day. My mom couldn’t get me out of the pool, not even to eat – imagine that. One day, towards the end of a long, hot summer I found myself in the locker room, looking in the mirror. It was over 35 years ago, but I remember the image vividly as if it were yesterday. I was wearing a rust colored bathing suit with black trim. For the first time ever that I could remember, I liked what I saw in the mirror. In that mirror, I didn’t see a sad overweight child staring back at me. I saw strong, attractive young woman with a smile looking back at me. I still remember this picture imprinted in my mind as if it was yesterday – probably because it was the only time during my childhood that I remember feeling good about my body. Swimming really worked for me. As summer turned to winter I’d lose the muscle and the calorie burning effects of swimming and pack back on the pounds once again.
So here I am. It’s summer in New England and for some reason, I only developed a love for swimming outdoors. I’m not allowed to lift weights for six weeks and my town pool opens at 6:30 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for adult lap swim. I reached out to my doctor and asked him if lap swimming was ok, and got a green light. So on Tuesday, I will begin swimming again. What’s funny is that I’m so excited. It’s like I’m a kid again. I can’t wait to get back in the water and begin doing laps, feeling the lengthening and contraction of each muscle with every stroke. I already purchased my goggles and I’m ready to go.
I’ve been forced to change up my exercise routine. It would be easy to use this as an excuse to put strength training on the back burner. Instead I’m looking forward to changing it up and seeing the effects of swimming on my body over the course of the summer.
One of the great and scary things about blogging is that I’ve now made a commitment to the thousands of people who visit my Banded Living blog to start swimming. So, I guess starting this coming Tuesday morning, you’ll find me in the pool. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: Week 1 has been great. The swimming is invigorating. I forgot how much I love to swim, even at 6:30 am. I’m definitely using muscles that I haven’t used in a long time!
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