What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Exercise

While dropping the kids off at school, I would stare at moms with running shoes and ponytails. They looked so happy. Well, maybe they looked so happy because I looked so sad in my jean shorts that needed washing and the most unwrinkled tee shirt I could find that morning. Maybe running shoes made people happy? No, maybe it was running! Yes, that was it–running made all these moms really happy; I should start running! So I reluctantly joined Stroller Strength with a bunch of my mom friends. They all looked so cute in their exercise clothes. They even had those cool headbands–you know, the ones that you wear with a ponytail. Adorable. I was going to be adorable too! I couldn’t wait–maybe we could all go to breakfast after running! I had finally found something to do on the mornings when I didn’t have to go into the office. Score!
Some of my closest friends happened to be doing this exercise program with me, and I wish they had told me what I am about to tell you. There is a secret known to these ponytail-wearing, yoga-pants-owning, smiling moms: RUNNING AND EXERCISE SUCK.  
JMB Exercise
It BLOWS. Sure, some people love to run and work out. I didn’t play sports in high school, so I don’t remember running laps or doing exercise drills. I was a Thespian, so my time was spent on the stage, and I assure you we were not meeting up at the gym after rehearsals. So what I didn’t know, and what no one bothered to tell me, is that the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other at a fast pace and pumping your arms back and forth is HARD. Sure, Jessica, we all knew that. Well, why didn’t someone fill me in?!
At one of these morning exercise sessions, as I started my third lap around the track, one of my best friends was yelling at me, screaming actually, “Pick it up! Don’t you dare walk!” She was visibly upset with me, all the while holding her one-year-old in her arms. She had already finished her timed run and was red from exhaustion and smelly with sweat. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out 1) why she was so mad and 2) why she was yelling at me not to quit. This running thing sucked. I yelled back some expletives and said, “I think I’m going to throw up!”–To which she replied, “Good!” Wait, what? You want me to throw up?!  It wasn’t until after I finished my lap and was bent over about to vomit that it hit me–I just ran a mile in under 12 minutes. Yes, I was about to vomit, and I was tired and sweaty and hated everything, but I did it. I pushed myself to what I thought was my breaking point and made it to the other side.
 
That’s the thing about running and exercise: it’s not necessarily the act of exercise; it’s what comes after that’s important. The Mayo Clinic says there are 7 benefits of regular physical activity, and those are just the tip of the iceberg. I had no idea that the action involved in exercise would help me sleep better, clear up my acne, and improve my mood. We are an instant-gratification society. Just close your eyes and imagine your first bite of your favorite meal or how you feel during a 90-minute massage. Your immediate response is one of happiness and satisfaction. I expected running and exercise to be the same–I will start running and instantly feel awesome. I wish someone had told me that there’s much more to it.
As I gear up for the fall challenge with my mom friends, I am entering into it with a better understanding of what I am doing and why I am doing it. It’s going to suck, but it will suck less because I am with my fellow moms, and we are all in it together. And, in the end, when I can run that mile in under 10 minutes, I will know I have pushed myself and survived to enjoy the (many) rewards of exercise, especially the satisfaction of knowing that I finished something I started and did my absolute best.
Jessica was born in the “Bold New City of the South" and loves her some Jacksonville. Not only is J-Ville the place where she was raised with her twin brother, but is it also where she met and married her super-handy hubby, Melvin. Together they have a lovely daughter named Lily and a very competitive son, Henry. Professionally, Jessica spends her days as the Activities Director at Jacksonville Golf & Country Club,- because her target audience is 5-11 year old children. Jessica has appeared on local television discussing topics ranging from Black Friday to couponing, - dirty hair, consignment sales and summer camps. Jessica enjoys showing up to parties in costume, Florida Gator Football, all things Disney, singing show tunes, making fudge, big ugly shelter dogs, reading Emily Post and writing in cursive. Keep up with all Jessica's antics at www.JessicaJacksonville.com

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