I never thought I’d give thanks for this, but I am so thankful for… E-X-E-R-C-I-S-E.  I know you think I’m completely insane, but it’s true.  I have a new love!

I have NEVER enjoyed exercise.  In fact, for most of my life I couldn’t even tolerate exercise very well.  As a child I was NOT athletic, partly because I was raised by my prim and proper, precious grandmother, who believed it was not lady-like to play sports.  To a certain degree, I think she had a valid point.  Now, before you start fussing at me, hear me out.  God created our bodies to move and to require exercise.  Sports are a form of exercise and I have no problem with females participating in exercise or organized sports.  I do, however, have an issue with the feminist view of sports and the tendency to strip away a females femininity and a male’s ability.  Some feminists and organized sports have taken this too far and it has caused more problems than I care to go into in this post.

Another reason I was not athletic as a child and did not enjoy physical activity was because of my heart condition.  I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was I was about 30 years old, but I remember having signs and symptoms of it at an early age.  I couldn’t run fast or for long distances because I was easily out of breath and my heart was pounding excessively.  I now know that was my inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST) and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).  My resting heart rate is abnormally fast, so when I exercise my heart rate overreacts and can get out of rhythm.

You’re probably wondering how I can say I enjoy exercise if I have this problem.  In my past career, I was a legal assistant so research is like breathing to me.  When I was diagnosed, I began researching IST and SVT.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, many factors exacerbate these conditions.  I began removing chemicals and processed foods from my diet, which led to more research.  I also began learning how to manage stress better, which led to even more research.  I began relying much more on The Lord for my physical and spiritual well being instead of food and other habits.  I also started doing some low impact exercises.  The symptoms began to diminish, and I also started losing weight because I was eating healthier.
About a year or so ago, my children and I began a regular exercise regimen for our homeschool physical education and recess sessions.  They’ve all performed a variety of sports and exercises, but as I mentioned my heart will only tolerate low impact.  So, I began with walking one mile a day and it was probably about a 20 minute mile.  I took it slowly and cautiously because a few years ago my heart went into atrial fibrillation during exercise and I had to have it shocked back into regular rhythm with cardioversion.  That was one of the scariest times in my life.  Gradually, I have increased my exercise tolerance and ability.  I am now up to walking three 14-15 minute miles per day for five days per week. 

Just recently I added a 30 minute stretch and strength training routine to my day.  Now you are wondering how on earth I have time for 1.25 hours of exercise each day.  Well, it takes effort, time management, sometimes it takes creativity to fit it into the schedule, and it takes lots of discipline.  It’s not easy.  It takes effort just like everything else that is worthwhile.

I would encourage you to begin an exercise routine.  Start small–take baby steps.  One of the first things I started with was Leslie Sansone – Walk the Walk It’s a walking DVD set and is an excellent baby step in the right direction, especially for moms who cannot take their children with them on walks or if you don’t have a neighborhood conducive to walking.  You can start small and gradually increase miles with the DVD.  I would also recommend investing in a good pedometer.  It’s a good way to track your steps for your daily activities.  Then you can use it to increase your steps, and track time, distance, calories burned.  I started with both these resources.  My routine is also helped by the fact that my exercise sessions are divided into two segments and that my children are old enough to walk with me.  I get up early in the morning, start my day with God, and then He keeps me motivated to do the rest.

I’d like to give myself all of the credit, but I know better than that.  God has done it ALL!  This has been a long journey, full of frightening moments, stress, worry, and frustration, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  It has brought me so much closer to the Lord.  I can feel His hands pushing me each sweaty, painful step of the way. 

I get to spend time each morning preparing my body to serve Him and my family better, 45 minutes of which is spent walking in His creation, listening to worship music, lifting my hands in praise each morning.  He has brought me to a point where it doesn’t even feel like exercise any more.  It is an essential part of my day, like eating and breathing, and it is something I know I simply cannot live without.  Yes, I am so very thankful for my physical and spiritual exercise with the Lord!

Mandy
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