I confess I kept this mindset until June of this year (sorry, runner-friends! so sorry).
I have three reasons why I started jogging in June (I like to call it bouncing, based on this very inspiring article).
First of all, I am middle-aged (I'd have to do some math to tell you exactly), which means my metabolism has slowed down. And it was showing. Hoo boy, I was getting pudgy. I basically like my clothes, and I didn't want to get new clothes. Jogging has trimmed off some fluff and my clothes fit better now.
Secondly, since having babies, I also have bouts of clinical depression that I manage with self-care (partly chocolate, duh) and antidepressants. I get a little mental-health high from running. I don't know if it's the same "runner's high" that real runners talk about, but it works to reset my brain, wipe out anxious thoughts, and bring me happily back to my reality. I'm a much nicer person after a run.
Thirdly, jogging is so efficient, and I do love efficiency. I can have my heart pounding and the sweat dripping within minutes - much faster than walking or biking, my other reliable forms of exercise. I don't really know how far I'm jogging, but I usually am gone from home about 30 minutes. Then I stretch a little, shower, and drink some extra water, all pleased with myself.
Some jogging bonuses: it's easy to do anywhere with no equipment. I love the wide-open space and big trees in the cemetery where I jog. I get to connect with more friends over jogging. Sometimes my sister or Genevieve jogs with me, and once I took Phoebe in the jogging stroller.
While I jog, I admire the names on the tombstones going by and find my place, humbly, in the whole gamut of humanity. I sometimes say the name of a pressing problem over and over again to the sky and that seems to take care of that problem. I sometimes throw little one-sentence prayers at God. I give myself kind and hopeful messages: my clothes fit nicely now! I love how my strong legs look as they pound down the path! I am doing this for my mood! For my children! For my sweetheart!
At this point, I aim to jog twice a week and do a Pilates DVD at home twice a week. All free and relatively quick. I've noticed that I have fewer aches and pains, that I can bend down and stand up more easily (no joke as you enter middle age!). I sleep better on the days that I jog. I may have more energy, but since I've also taken up a second cup of coffee in the afternoon, it's hard to tell.
I've tweaked my diet just a little bit, too. I really try to be in tune with my hunger because sometimes I get confused by stress, boredom, or thirst. I only eat to being "not hungry" instead of "full." I'm often surprised by how small a portion I actually need, so I try not to mindlessly dish out a portion I would have eaten in my freewheeling thirties, in my nursing days, back before my metabolism shifted. I do not eat anything at all after supper, nothing until breakfast. I haven't cut out desserts, but I have reduced portions and frequency.
I tell you all this to inspire you. That you can be trim, healthy, and happy without a lot of money and time. This is, after all, a blog about thrift. I bought one pair of running shorts and I need to buy a new pair of sneakers soon. I haven't paid gym or class fees, or set up a home gym; if that's your thing, I'm glad it works for you.