Making the decision to work out is easy, but actually starting to do it requires the kind of mental and emotional preparation that can exhaust you without even making you break a sweat. You have to battle ennui, inhibition, those school memories of having to run cross-country and your natural fear of looking stupid before you’re ready to get on the road to fitness.
My jogging kit remained in a bag under my desk for two months before I carried it outside, kicked it to expel any snakes and started to use it. Partly, this was because I wanted to exercise for the right reasons.
Sure, my waistline had expanded to meet the flesh below and above it so that if I felt the desire to wear a waist, I’d have to superimpose one using a belt, but I preach the gospel of self-acceptance. What if age or motherhood makes me permanently larger and rounder? Will I resent time or my child for stealing my figure?
The second reason was that after a year of working around Kamwokya, also known as the HQ of street hecklers in Uganda, I’d become timid. These men were so bold about shouting obscenities, staring and even getting physical that I wasn’t sure I wanted to call attention to myself by jiggling around in a vest and tights.
And then one night I awoke with what felt like a pig of exhaustion lying across my shoulders. No amount of stretching could unseat it. I was lying on the floor, thinking dejectedly about the old days when I’d sleep like a baby after yoga when, get this, I heard the invisible pig chuckle.
My jogging started the next week.
It was hell of course and after 3 weeks, my knees failed. If you intend to work out, do some research. Find the necessary stretches on Youtube and buy a pair of proper shoes because the pain that runner’s knee comes with is stupid and terrible.
I posted an update on facebook asking for advice from other runners and was devastated when all the comments were variations of ‘take some time off’ and ‘do low impact exercises’ because as terrible as the first few weeks were, an intense, unbelievable balloon of excitement would explode in my brain after every run.
My understanding of the scientific explanation I’ve read regarding this high is that your body computes increased physical activity as a fight or flight situation and produces dopamine, serotonin and endorphins to lessen the shock/impact , thus making you very high.
The idea of going back to a life of sleeping with invisible animals around my shoulders filled me with so much dread that I hugged the computer screen when I discovered Zumba. Zumba is a combination of aerobics, dance and fun. It’s great, but made me feel like I was cheating on jogging. I found myself saying things like, “Jogging and Zumba occupy two completely different spaces of my heart!” and “Jogging is my spouse but Zumba is my favorite gigolo”.
We’re in an open relationship now.
Working out will make you more confident. I know this because I don’t get heckled anymore thanks to the scary eyes I learnt to throw the gigglers on my running route. Your memory improves, your productivity increases and you learn self-discipline (if you can work-out every day for 7 weeks, you can do anything).
I’ve dropped 10 kilograms, look like a goddess-complete with emerging abs, and this new vanity will probably drown me.