Thursday, September 6, 2018

Now I Jog

I have always hated, loathed, and despised running.  When we had to run a mile in gym class, I thought I was dying.  I would be near the end of the pack, and I walked every chance I got.  My gym teacher yelled her theory that my long legs were made for running, but no, I am a lumbering-gait kind of tall person, that's all.  Some of my friends ran cross-country. Some of my friends run marathons.  Who runs for fun? It's painful to run!  Why invite pain?

 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.

Are you a jogger (or a bouncer, haha)?  Discuss. I'd also take recommendations for Pilates youtube videos that are less than 20 minutes.


  1. This is timely and encouraging to me, as I've put on a bit this summer (a variety of reasons: stress, illness, summer heat, etc) and I'm thinking about how best to manage my diet and activity, especially as I too am on the cusp of middle age. Indeed, my body seems to think I entered middle age some time ago. It's been distinctly disconcerting, and I say that as someone who has never been thin or been able to eat whatever I want.

    I can't run anymore (or bounce--ha!) as I have a nasty little neuroma in my foot, but I am trying to walk more, and am considering other options for activity. I'm glad jogging is working well for you! I wish I had a better place to walk like your cemetery--it looks peaceful and restorative.

  2. I walk/run early every morning around the river track near my home. I really miss it if I can't go, like yesterday when it rained all day. Not sure how far it is, maybe 4 - 4 1/2km. It's exercise, relaxation, solitude, think/pray time...

    I also like my food, and although I eat healthy most of the time, dieting is not my thing, so I exercise. I'm 65, and I see so many in my age group who have trouble even walking, so for me it's a case of 'while I can...I will...'

    As the saying goes... Use it or lose it! xx

  3. Well done! I'm a fellow tall person with long legs that was rubbish at running at school, much to the disappointment of my PE teacher, who was also my form tutor.

    I'm still hopeless at it and now actually can't really run because of a chronic back/hip problem but have tried to do similar tweaks to my lifestyle and diet. As I also have a tendency to eat in response to feeling low, my shape isn't quite what I'd want at the moment but I'm working on it. You've inspired me to step it up a bit.

  4. Definitely on the middle age slowdown. It's wicked for someone who loves food.

    Second, check your thrift store. I just got a brand NEW pair of saucony running shoes for $6.

    Third, your strategy of eating until not hungry makes so much sense. I get that cue and often ignore it, so I'll try it. I'm surprised by how little food I really need at 43.

  5. I've been on the no eating after dinner thing for years and still the middle age slowdown is rapidly gaining speed on my mid-section. Probably doesn't help that I have been veering away from cardio and more into yoga, preferably the easy-does-it class I prefer where I'm the youngest woman in the room by 15 years. I do take the dog for daily walks, but she's a beagle and has to stop to smell everything in our path, so it's hard to break a sweat most days. Although in this heat, I break a sweat walking outside. Does that count?

  6. Good job!! I am still in the loathe, hate, and despise club. But just yesterday (maybe you noticed?) I decided to journal my eating habits on instagram (via stories) by photographing every bite that goes in my mouth. I’m hoping it keeps me from eating seconds as often and not snitching so many bites while I cook because how annoying would it be to take a pic of all those?! I’m not middle aged yet but noticed that since I’m not pregnant/nursing anymore the chub is just hanging around. I know I need to incorporate more physical exercise into my life but I guess journaling my food is a decent place to start...

  7. If your interested at all in yoga. Leslie Fightmaster has wonderful yoga videos on youtube. There is a whole playlist of 20 min ones. She is inspiring and middle aged just like us.

  8. I am not a jogger, though I have always aspired to be. Unfortunately shin splits keep me from being the jogger I am in my mind. LOL! I love Pilates, and enjoy The Balanced Life on YouTube. She has quite a few videos that are less than 20 minutes.

  9. I'm not a runner. I wish I could be, because it's such a simple exercise. It's just too hard on my joints. I was getting plenty of exercise with my bike commute, but since I retired I don't have a default exercise/cardio routine - and I need one! I may have to put my bike back on the trainer, but it's just not the same.

    Since retiring, I have changed the way I eat. My main meal is mid-day, and in the evening I just have a snack, maybe some pistachios or cheese and crackers, or something light. My portions are small! This is what's keeping me from gaining too much.

    That cemetery is beautiful. Such a peaceful place for your run.

  10. Well done! It can sometimes be so hard to do what we know we should do.

    (I read this right after finishing a workout on our elliptical. I have the same feelings towards running that you had, but I have also thought recently how much I prefer exercising outside instead of in my basement...maybe one of these days I will round the corner and take up jogging.)

  11. I miss our cemetery! It was always a great place to bike, jog or bird for our family! Thanks for the inspiration for exercising!

  12. I *want* to be a runner, but over the years each time I try it hurts my left knee and I just can't. SO I try to walk. For 11 years we lived in a neighborhood with city blocks (we weren't downtown, but we were in the city limits), and now we live in an area where the streets make no sense and have no sidewalks. So I haven't kept up with walking. I've unhappily watched the scale creep up this summer. I really need to take action!

  13. Another advocate for The Balance Life on YouTube here, Margo! Robin is a personable, motivating and sensible Pilates instructor and I highly recommend her. She focuses a great deal on good self care as well and just had twins recently.

    Personally, I enjoy Vinyasa yoga, stretching, walking swiftly and taking the stairs as much as possible as exercises (these are major calorie-burners and consistent effort WILL firm up your thighs and buttocks VERY nicely, not to mention it being more environmentally friendly than elevators). 😉

    Running or jogging aren't my thing and I remember 7th grade monday gym class' mile-long run very well. In shorts! In the cold! What agony...Nowadays, I tell people I only run when I'm being chased!

    As for eating habits, I've read that using smaller plates/bowls/cups will help one reduce portion sizes. The same amount of food or drink looks a lot more on a smaller plate than on a larger one. It's a cognitive bias we can leverage! One perrenial goal of mine is to reduce my sugar intake for better skin (be sure to wear a hat while you jog outdoors!), energy level and overall health. This white stuff is in innumerable foods we regularly consume and near invincible to beat. I also try to take it easy on the honey and molasses as well when I consume them.

  14. This is so validating for me as these are many of the reasons that I took up jogging as well! So many of the messages about running or fitness in general involve PUSHING YOURSELF or races or fancy/expensive gear and none of that ever appealed to me so I always figured that jogging wouldn't appeal either (plus I had similar experiences with the mile!). Last year I started jogging because of an anxiety flare up and I wish I had started sooner. Nothing burned off my fear and worry like going out and jogging around the block. I wear old shorts, an old t-shirt with a stretched out collar, and an old fanny pack to hold my water and keys. I look a little bit ridiculous but I could care less because I feel so much better about myself and my life! -Jen

  15. What a lovely post. I am 44 and have embraced exercise for many years, starting with a Pilates class 10 years ago, then expanding to several cardio/yoga/TRX classes a week. I have found I do best with a YMCA membership and attending classes. I don't know why, but I like the structure and variety instructors provide. It's definitely quite an expense and time commitment compared to at-home videos or running, but it has helped by mental, emotional and physical health. It's difficult to reconcile the expense and time (driving to the gym+ 1 hour class), but I really enjoy it and go several times a week.

  16. Check out Clasique (Acupuncture & Pilates Studio in Asheville NC) videos on YouTube. Brooke is a friend of a friend and I love her videos!

    I used to run a ton, but I don't much anymore because of lifestyle constraints. I do exercise every day--walking at least 3-5 miles and doing cardio sculpting type exercises for 15-45 minutes. (Mostly 15 minutes right issues again!) I lost 20 pounds this year and am at my lowest weight as an adult, ever, including college, so I'm pretty pleased with this.

    I think the key is food more than exercise, but exercise definitely DEFINITELY has benefits. My cardio sculpting stuff has eliminated chronic back pain that I've had for 15+ years and obviously the mood-boosting benefits are amazing. Plus, exercise is fun!

    I'm glad you're enjoying running! I call my running "shuffling," ;). Not my husband's 5.5-minute miles! It's very therapeutic.

  17. Amen to all of this! I run about four times a week. It makes my body feel good, which in turn makes my mind feel good.

  18. I have a cousin who was diagnosed Bipolar. She started running and it really does help with mental illness. You're right on about that!

  19. Good for you, Margo. I'm pleased to hear you are feeling better and fitter and slimmer. Win, win, win. Plus time outside and with your thoughts and prayers. Seriously. What a positive addition to your life!

    I have a blog post I've been ruminating on in which I announce that I love going to the gym (I get a free membership at our campus gym). No one was more shocked by that realization than I was. I just have never been a "gym person" or really even a sporty person. And then, two years ago, I became a gym person after all. Jogging, elliptical, yoga, weights, HIT, Nia, swimming...

    I feel so much better now that I get my heart pumping and my body sweaty on a regularly basis every week. My arthritis and mood have improved. I sleep better. I feel more inspired in other areas of life. It really is a snowball that builds so quickly! You might have inspired me to finally write that post...that I was a little embarrassed to post for some reason.

    Since you mentioned the help with depression I will, in turn, mention a very interesting book I recently read about how we really need to move, that a lack of exercise is linked to depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and more: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (John H. Ratey). It was recommend to me by a professor in our Health and Human Performance program.

    And happy bouncing!


I enjoy the conversation in the comments - thank you for that. I will answer your questions here in the comments. Please note that I don't want the world wide web to know my family's surnames and location.