Part Two- A personal diy project- me and exercise


Thank you so much for the comments on part one of this post. I knew I wasn’t alone in my thinking. (You can read part one here).
So, after all the complaining in that first post, you may wonder, as Mariko does, if I indeed was out running all last week and couldn’t sit down and write this post until today. Right after I took my thumbs out of the thumbholes of my running jacket.
Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that not only did not happen, probably never will.

So. Exercise. At my age, I just didn’t think I could avoid it anymore. I had to do something. For real this time. No more excuses.


But what was a wanting to accomplish? (Sorry, I’m a list maker.) My immediate thoughts were:
– improve bone density and ward off osteoperosis
– increase my metabolism (I LIKE DESSERT!)
– strengthen my heart.
– improve my balance and posture, work on my core strength (an area that I feel is very weak).

Also, knowing myself as I do, I needed to consider these points:
– exercise that requires a minimum time investment was going to be key, I am not going to invest a lot mentally (and financially) into this whole fitness thing. I know it has to be done, but I know what to expect of myself.
– the activity I choose can do any time of the year (Blair won’t exercise outside in the rain).

So. I actually have Betz to thank and I don’t think I’ve told her till now. She mentioned one day on twitter that she was doing the Jillian Michael’s “30 Day Shred” DVD at home, and I decided to order a copy for myself to try out (fits in perfectly with the minimum investment part). The workouts are designed as 20 minute (actually the full workout is more like 25-ish minutes with warm up and cool down) interval training- short burst of cardio movement combined with strength training intervals.
I started doing it the same day I got it. Right in our family room, with my 2 kids watching me. And occasionally commenting (I seriously wanted to knock them both out).
I nearly died. But Jillian told me I wouldn’t and I actually didn’t!
I came back and did it the next day, even though I had to take Advil for muscle aches first. (25 minutes Blair… 25 minutes….). And the next day. And the next day.
I have been doing this 6 days every week since June. 
I have rationalized, both in my head and out loud, that I can do most anything for 25 minutes (I mean, childbirth was HOURS!). I can work hard as hell and push myself as hard as I possibly can, and pour sweat from every pore, because I know it will be done in 25 minutes. I don’t feel that I really did the work if I’m not sweating profusely. I still don’t like to sweat, but it’s a little gauge I use in my head.

For the first time, things are happening to my body.
People! I HAVE ABS! I CAN DO A PUSHUP WITHOUT BEING ON MY KNEES! I CAN DO A BURPEE!
I am not writing this post as a spokesperson for Jillian Michaels. In fact, since that first DVD purchase, I have researched and bought several other interval training workout videos to keep it all from getting too routine. It’s more like I’m a spokesperson for interval training. (If you are wondering if interval training is for you, do a search on YouTube for “interval training” to try some workouts before committing to purchasing DVD’s.) Through short, intense spurts of interval training, I have managed to strengthen my core (which must have been the weakest on Earth) and strengthen my heart. I now stand straighter and don’t feel short of breath when I run upstairs. I sleep better. Without losing a pound, several weeks ago I went to Anthropologie and realized I’d lost an ENTIRE CLOTHING SIZE. I must have texted everybody I knew from that dressing room!

Coming from a non-athletic exerciser who does it simply because she has to:
Compartmentalize exercise. I will never be the sort of person who’s physical activity defines them. I do not live for it. Now I know that I can get up, put on workout clothes, put in my half hour of full on exercise, then be done with it and put it aside for the day. “Putting it in its proper place” in my brain works for me. I thrive on rituals, so that’s another reason why it works for me. It seems like some of you think this way too.
Don’t be afraid of physical activity. As I’ve already said, I do not feel the least bit “sporty”. (I don’t even really love being outdoors.) Sometimes, it’s simply enough to feel like I’m moving beyond my normal everyday activity.
Work to find that one activity that you can stick with. Everybody says this, but its really kinda true. I have attempted yoga several times in my life, thinking that it’s perfect for a non-mover like myself. But I never stuck with it. The time investment for an hour-long class versus the benefits I was feeling just didn’t add up for me. (Interestingly, I might actually get something more out of yoga today, at the fitness level I’m at now). After many false starts I realized that a minimum amount of time with big results were what I could do.
Fitness can benefit us non-athletes in unexpected ways. Today, I was mopping our tile bathroom floor. I walked out for a few minutes and, without remembering the floor was wet, went quickly back into the bathroom. My feet went flying out from under me and I fell on the wet tile. HARD. Now, a fall like that six months ago would have probably left me stunned, possibly hurt, and sitting down to recoup (because this exact fall has happened before- I never learn). But today, I got right back up, in fact I practically bounced up. I realized that it was a combination of my muscles supporting stronger bones that helped me avoid a potential injury. Although I may have a nasty bruise, I didn’t skip a beat. That is progress, people.
It may not noticeably relieve your stress. Silly me, but I expected some zen-like peace while I was putting my body through the rigors of exercise. Like my shoulders would magically unkink, my head would be clear to tackle the day, all that. But in reality, I am still thinking about the day ahead the entire time I’m exercising, at times I’ve even anxious to finish because I’ve got to do this.. and this… and this… Another reason getting all this done in 25 minutes is so wonderful. ANYTHING can wait 25 minutes. If I am having a stressful day, I don’t run for my handweights (don’t even think about it, really). I’m not there yet, but I’m sticking with it. I have a feeling the stress relief part will not really show itself to me until I have to go without exercising for a period of time. Until then…

So, in conclusion.
I will still not go for a run with you. I still don’t want physical exercise to cut into my time in the studio, and would probably choose making art all day over a hike in the woods (maybe…). But I’m giving myself and my body a fighting chance to be fit and strong. Having always been independent, self-sufficient, and mentally strong, I am now starting to feel that way physically as well.
I am writing all this not to boast in any way (and if you’ve read this far, thank you!) but to share a struggle that I think many of us go through. I don’t know that I have kicked my own personal struggle completely, but I have reset something in my brain, and have a new appreciation for what my own body can do.
Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on this whole subject!

36 Comments
  • Samantha

    September 30, 2013 at 5:34 am Reply

    Bravo! Keep going

  • Lori

    September 30, 2013 at 5:35 am Reply

    really, really proud of you — and you’ve kept it up! now just add 10 minutes of meditation a day and you’ll be all set. ;o)

  • Amy P.

    September 30, 2013 at 5:59 am Reply

    Cheering you on from here!! I started with the Shred, too, and am the biggest Jillian fan now. I tell myself the same thing: “I can do anything for 20-25 minutes.” Be careful with your knees. I think I overdid it last fall and ended up with a knee injury that set me back for about 3 months. Don’t you just feel stronger now? That was my biggest a-ha about it.

  • Betz

    September 30, 2013 at 6:19 am Reply

    Yay yay yay! I’m so happy for you! And to do it 6 days a week since June, bravo! I’d like to know how you progressed through the levels…how long did you do level 1 before moving up to 2, etc?
    When I started the Shred, I only did it every other day to start out slow. I think I did it for about 6 weeks and realized that I had injured my hamstring and it was not getting better. So, I had to quit in June and I was so depressed! So many false starts. Long story short I have been resting it and as I mentioned changed to a standing work station. Sitting really aggravated the injury and it was not getting better. Now I’m tying to walk every morning RIGHT after the kids leave for school at 7:30. I’m using a pedometer and have a 10,000 steps/day goal which I sometimes actually hit! I figure when the weather gets to cold hopefully I’ll be ready to hang out again with Julian. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your story and I’m glad I “helped”! 🙂

  • Erin | house on hill road

    September 30, 2013 at 7:07 am Reply

    So proud of you, Blair! Go go go!

  • Ayelet

    September 30, 2013 at 8:25 am Reply

    Go Blair!! I just bought the Biggest Loser game for the Kinect…will see if Jilian works for me too. Keep it up!

  • Cheryl Jaeger

    September 30, 2013 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Excellent!!!

  • Tina

    October 1, 2013 at 3:59 am Reply

    Great job! Have you tried Shaun T’s new work out? It is 25 minutes long, too. My daughter just told me about it, but I had just started with a trainer at the gym again. I’m nursing a few injuries from before, but when they settle down, I may try it on my in-between days at the gym.

  • Byrd

    October 1, 2013 at 4:47 am Reply

    Thank you Blair, you list-maker like me, for writing this excellent piece. I’ve had a battle with this same issue for quite some time. I know intellectually how much better a daily 30 minute power walk makes me feel, and how that translates into my work at the office, in my home, and in my studio. I just have to get my act together – daily – and do it. Take care, Byrd

  • margie

    October 1, 2013 at 5:34 am Reply

    You go girl! I’ve done the Jillian work outs in the past and felt stronger. I think I may need to revisit them…

  • Molly

    October 1, 2013 at 6:28 am Reply

    bless you, blair.
    sincerely,
    me and my achy everything (and closet not-so-huge lover of the outdoors, unless it’s an excuse to get my kiddos outside)

  • Nikki

    October 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm Reply

    Great posts! Well done and keep it up!

  • Jamie

    October 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Go Blair! A good friend, also not the typical exerciser type, swore by her Jillian Michaels workouts. I jogged for two days on a couch to 5K app and then let life get in the way again. Maybe my friend will loan me her videos to try. = )

  • Cheryl Arkison

    October 4, 2013 at 5:43 am Reply

    Bang on. It was that 30 day shred that did it for me too. Inches lost, knees feeling better, and a bit easier to keep up with the kids. Now to keep going…

  • Sarah

    October 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm Reply

    I bought the DVD because of this post. I hurt more than I ever have after a workout, but I feel strong. Thank you!

  • Lizette

    October 15, 2013 at 10:41 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing Blair. So inspiring. I needed it. Should get back to lap swimming…

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm Reply

    Thank you Lizette. I never thought I would get to a place where exercise felt important enough to be a priority, but I may be there. xo

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm Reply

    Oh Sarah! Thank you… and I really hope you are still on it. She’s tough, but apparently just what I need.

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:08 pm Reply

    Yes, we must keep going! I found I slowed down as my kids got older, which scared me even more. At least I was getting exercise when they were little. Go Cheryl!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm Reply

    Thank you so much Jamie. I say whatever works, if not Jillian, then something else. I am realizing its just important to move.

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm Reply

    Thanks Nikki! xo

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm Reply

    So glad I’m not the only one who would pick inside over outside MOST of the time. hugs to you Molly!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm Reply

    Thanks Margie!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm Reply

    Thank you Byrd! We all have to motivate each other and get inspiration to do this exercising bit wherever we can. 😀

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm Reply

    I have not, but if it’s a 25 minute one I must look into it! Thank you!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm Reply

    Thanks Cheryl!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm Reply

    Good luck with it!!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm Reply

    You inspire me with your workouts! xo

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm Reply

    Really, thank you Betz. I have been doing either the 30 day shred or ripped in 30 (or supplementing with some other similar workouts on our cable) 6 days a week, sometimes 7. I know how I am, and I need to get a real routine going or I’m not going to stick with it. I progressed through the levels pretty slowly, but these days I do all the levels, just work more aggressively on the beginning levels. They are ALL hard if I give it my best shot. Hope you are healing up right on schedule!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

    Yes! The strength! I’ve never had that. The abs!!! The upper arms. Whether its noticeable to others or not, I definitely feel it.

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

    need to work on that, for sure!

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

    Thanks Samantha!

  • Molly

    October 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm Reply

    not only that?  but on your recommendation (and cringing and closing one eye), i ordered my own copy of the 30 day shred.  having never (ever) owned or used a video of any kind in the past.  today was day #6 (with plenty of padding in between, to rest sore muscles).  verdict?  it's weirdly addicting.  i can't explain it.  i'm not even sure i'm okay admitting it.  i loathe exercise.  really.  loathe loathe loathe.  and yet?  i do appreciate the ability to, you know, move.  and want to preserve that.  and if i can cram enough work into 20 minutes to get the job done?  i guess i might be all over that?  weird.  
    what i really mean is: thank you.  i'm baffled, but very, very grateful!
    xo,
    molly

  • blair/wisecraft

    October 17, 2013 at 6:10 am Reply

    Yay! Go Molly!!! Weirdly addicting is a perfect description. xo

  • Sarah L.

    October 17, 2013 at 10:47 am Reply

    Your courage and strength are inspiring – as someone with a very similar health/lifestyle profile, I am now adjusting to an unexpected diagnosis that *requires* me to increase my exercise, and will take your advice and lessons to heart as I too prepare for a better, stronger life ahead! Thank you for sharing.

  • meganwf

    October 22, 2013 at 9:19 am Reply

    My sister sent me your post as I struggle with how to balance that creativity time with real life and keeping somewhat fit. I’ve been telling myself that walking the dogs for 45-70 mins most days is enough but with all their stopping and sniffing? Hardly. Ditto on the occasional bikeride. I’m on day 9 and I hate it. Especially the lateral lunges. I’m convinced that if these muscles hurt so bad its because they aren’t really meant to be used. But like how I feel when I’m done. I feel stronger physically but also mentally because I didn’t give up. So do we have to do this for the rest of our lives!!?? xo

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