I was scouring through old photos the other day, searching for something else entirely, when I came upon some photos of me ice skating when I was a little girl. Mom said the picture of my brother and me was our Christmas card photo in 1966. Which is impossible of course as I’m only 29. Ahem.
Finding that photo got me started thinking how much fun I had ice skating as a kid and how we struggle to recapture that sense of fun while exercising as adults.
I didn’t just ice skate recreationally as a child; in fact, I skated competitively until I was almost 16. I did jumps (doubles even!), spins, figures and ice dancing for many hours a day from the time I was four years old until I finally realized I wasn’t going to the Olympics (and simultaneously discovered boys).
Skating was a big part of my childhood and I enjoyed it tremendously.
Besides the exercise, skating taught me discipline and persistence. I had to keep working constantly to improve. At least as much as the athleticism, I appreciated the artistry of it. Skating requires endurance and physical precision, but also awareness your body as it moves through space. Every muscle works together to create movements that are not only skillful but also aesthetically beautiful.
Naturally I had no clue when I was a kid how much I would value these experiences later in life.
As we settle into the responsibilities of adulthood – jobs, marriage, parenting – we typically set aside the leisure activities of our youth. We compartmentalize exercise into a 60-minute class we rush in and out of at the gym. We lose sight of the fact that moving our bodies can be more than just a calorie burn – a means to an end.
Exercise can be an end in and of itself. Exercise can be a way to tap into the pure delight of physical movement.
When we plug back into those activities that brought us pleasure as children we are reminded of that in a way that no amount of time spent on an elliptical can bring. (True confession: I detest elliptical machines.)
What was that activity for you? Horseback riding? Roller skating? Gymnastics? Riding your bike? Whatever it was, try it again. Lose yourself in the pleasure of the movement.
Our bodies were made to do this. Truthfully, our brains were made to do this too! Physical movement feels good in a way that nothing else does.
Even if you cannot perform the activities of your childhood the way you did back then (as evidenced by my attempt a few days ago; dear God, my poor knees!), you can rekindle the joy you found in physical movement again and use that to your advantage as you lose weight and reclaim your health.
So lace up your skates, go find your mitt, or grab your sidewalk chalk for a game of hopscotch. There’s a ton of fun to be had in your healthy life!
C’mon, we got this!