This is the funniest thing. I am laughing at myself because I can't run until after 9am tomorrow, and I keep having to remind myself. I am forgetting not to run today. I get ready to go put on my workout clothes and 5FVs and then a big STOP!!!! Oh yeah, I am not supposed to run today. This has happened at least 3 times. Why? I am being sent by my dietitian to have my resting metabolic rate and body composition measured. In order to get an accurate reading I can't exercise for 24 hours before, and I had to not run a long run on Saturday.
So I started thinking... It is funny that I can't connect the words exercise and running together. They are two different things to me. Running is running, and exercise is exercise. I don't have anything against exercise, but a run doesn't feel like much exercise until I have been out for at least 3 hours. Otherwise it is just a run, and running is what I do. It has become a habit. So much of a habit that I almost forgot to not run!
Wouldn't it be great if this were true of all of America? Moving should be a natural part of life, and weather that is running or some other activity, we need to move! The problem is the word exercise for some reason has become a synonym for punishment. Something we dread doing. Perhaps it stems from the approach many of us were raised with. I was reflecting on this yesterday....... go back....... still going..... to 6-7th grade. Springville middle school gym class.
Hey, I was homeschooled and so exercise was not pushed on me as a punishment until 7th grade. Sure, I had other dysfunctional messages going on at home, but not about moving. Oh wait, so lets go back even further. When I was 7 and 11.3/12th years old I attempted a 50/20. This was a yearly thing that started at "This Is the Place" monument in Salt Lake City, and ended at Pioneer Park in Provo. I had watched my dad do this, and finish it, and even though I was young I remember him getting a medal for finishing that 50 mile walk in under twenty hours. I was just 6 when I saw all those people getting medals. I saw my dad get one, and I almost started crying. Yes, even as a 6 year old, the sense of accomplishment I felt for him, and the longing to complete it myself was strong. So the next year I begged and begged and begged, and did I mention I begged my dad to let me do the 50/20. He reluctantly agreed, and I think he thought I might make it about 5 miles and quit. Guess he didn't know me, even then, I never quit!
So in the months leading up to that event we walked down the Provo Canyon trail. I lived in North Provo down by where there are lots of fancy shops and restaurants now, the Riverwoods. But then it was Edgewood Dr, and there were a few houses and lots of field. We walked on the trail, and on the day of the event I was bubbling with excitement. We started out, and I walked. We past the 5 mile mark, and I still walked. Sometime my dad started asking if I was really going to go on, and I did. I walked into the night, I walked past aid stations. My dad stopped at lots of gas stations and bought me treats until it started making me sick to my stomach to think about eating. So I just kept walking, even though I was sick as hell! I made it 30 miles, and I think I was sleep walking at that point, and at mile 35 my dad couldn't walk anymore. He wasn't prepared for me not to quit after 6 miles. I was really sad, and they had to force me to quit. But I was also tired, and couldn't fight much. The next day I felt this overwhelming sense of depression when I realized I would not get that medal. I did not know what an ultramarathon was back then, and until recently it didn't occur to me that a week before my 8th birthday, I had walked more than a marathon.
So that was how I approached physical activity, it was not a punishment then. So back to Jr. High. I am sure that outside of school these teachers must be not as mean as I remember them, but I have to write this how I remember it. Should they someday run across my blog, and read about how awful they are, please remember that this is from an 11-14 year old perspective, and peer influence to hate gym teachers was high. Also Jr. high is probably the worse teaching job I can imagine being placed in. I wonder if instead of serving jail time, a judge ordered a Jr. High teaching sentence if we would see more reform! So here I was. A big 7th grader in middle school! I had been taking Orchestra class since 5th grade, but beyond that, I was homeschooled beyond that. I thought it was torture at the time to be a homeschooled kid, who didn't get to sit in class with her friends, but really, I am not scared. My mom is a great homeschool teacher, and she is an Amazon Woman. What other grade school kid has an Amazon Woman for a teacher!
In 7th grade I was so excited because my mom decided to let me take half my classes at the middle school, and she would school me in my core subjects (probably for good reason. My kids have been in private and charter schools because the trial with public school for the first 1.5 years of my oldest child’s life was a disaster!) Meet Miss Lewis. Now don't read this wrong, I am all for body image acceptance, but it is bit strange to have gym teachers who are not at all physically fit, overweight, and all they do is bark out orders for you to comply with their strange aerobic moves that they can't even do themselves, because they don't exercise! This was Miss Lewis. Make her mad, she would punish you with laps around the soccer field, and calisthenics. Otherwise, she wasn't terrible. We mostly played games in that class, and one of our assignments was to invent a game and play it in class. But one time I accidently knocked over her mug full of ice, and after being told by my fellow student that she would kill me I stayed silent when she scolded the class trying to get someone to rat the Ice offender out, and as a result of everyone's silence we had to run. Wow! No wonder America hates to move, anyone else taught to be punished by exercise?
Next year, 8th grade. Now I move up to the big Jr. High school, and I started going to school fulltime. I fought my mom so much on it, and started refusing to do any schoolwork at home, that she finally relented and sent me to public school. Ms. Anderson, this was way worse than Ms. Lewis. Ms. Anderson had the same disposition. Overweight, out of shape, and didn't move herself. In fact my most horrifying memories were her showing us how to bend over and do "cherry-pickers" to Bryan Adams "Summer of '69". That song still brings back the trauma of that visual. So we have aerobics, again.... didn't we just love the 80's?....... and Ms. Anderson was even meaner. You had to take everything off that was not a uniform, and if you forgot you got in trouble, and to be honest I don't remember what the punishment was, but I remember for getting in trouble when I realized I had forgotten to take my watch off, and put it in m sock.... which of course she caught me doing!
My worse memory was when we were doing sit-ups one day, and I could not hold in my methane stores. A very loud rip was heard across the echoing gym, and the whole class burst out in laughter. I was mortified. Because of the laughter Ms. Anderson was pissed, apparently humor was not allowed, and so she punished us with a whole hour of calisthenics. Really, I just think she liked to punish us. She would use any little infraction of the rules as a chance to punish the whole class. So really, I can see why people think exercise is a drag when you combine these post-traumatic memories, or like me, in my worse ED days, punished breaking any food rules with "torturous" forms of exercise. I, of course, was even more ashamed, and refused to claim the methane leek, even though I don't know how anyone could have missed that it was my gas leak. OK, I guess I don't have any trouble saying, "Ms. Anderson, congratulations, you were a fat bitch!" Fat, because at that time, that is the label you would have gotten from me for how mean you were.
Luckily, I actually had some very nice gym teachers in high school, who were actually athletic, and actually cared more about students, then they did about punishing them! But unfortunately I also learned how to have an eating disorder by watching a video on it in a high school gym class.
So as I think about remembering not to run. I am grateful for a few things. 1. That I no longer use exercise to punish myself, and 2. That I have to remind myself not to run today. 3. That my mouth salivates when I think about running! Gym class should be an opportunity to teach kids healthy living AND healthy body image. I hope this is changing, I don't know if it is. I hope there is some Ms Anderson that will read this and think twice about punishing kids with exercise, and instead get to know kids, and connect with them. Maybe you will prevent an eating disorder if you do this, and instead of reading something like this in 20 years, you will read about a kid who is grateful for a gym teacher that built his/her confidence, and taught him/her to love moving!