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ADVENTURES IN FOOD AND FITNESS

The value of building in a backup workout plan

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 12:01 am

You hear a lot about the importance of “making an appointment with yourself” to exercise, but sometimes even that isn't enough.

Recently I blew off three potential workouts penciled into my day before finally squeezing in a run while waiting to pick our fourth-grader up from school. Luckily, I ran out of excuses before I ran out of opportunities.

Searching for ways to weave exercise into the things you already do means you've always got a built-in backup plan.

On this particular day, despite an early work shift and a hectic afternoon as “taxi mom,” I counted at least eight potential workouts — and I bet there were more.

It used to be that all I saw were roadblocks when it came to exercise: Not enough time, our road was too dangerous, we couldn't afford a gym membership, blah-blah-blah.

But the single biggest obstacle — the one that distorted all the others — was I simply couldn't bear the idea of my sweaty fat rolls flopping around in public.

I needed to take baby steps inside my comfort zone. Weirdly enough, for me that turned out to be walking laps in my brother's basement.

It was my sister's idea. She'd been after me for years to walk with her, but I was always “too busy.” One winter day, while admiring our brother's new house, she suggested we take a spin around his roomy basement.

I'd just started Weight Watchers and had already lost a few pounds. This seemed like an easy way to help speed that process along.

Because we both lived nearby, we decided to do it again the next day. Soon, we were meeting in Brent's basement three or four times a week. Spring came, and we moved our walks outside. Then we started jogging.

I knew I still looked pretty jiggly, but I no longer dwelled on that. Caught up in the momentum of looking and feeling better, I began seeking more ways to burn calories. And I found them — in the same places that once seemed so foreboding.

True, our busy highway has no sidewalks. But just a quarter-mile away was a quiet country road where I'm nearly as likely to encounter a deer as a car.

Our budget is still tight. But when my parents asked for Christmas ideas, I suggested a key to a local gym. The kids loved it, and so did I. This past year, we got a YMCA membership. Now we can swim, rock climb and do yoga all over town.

As for our schedule, well, it's busier now than ever before. Yet even the most hectic days still have lots of room for exercise.

On the day I mentioned earlier, I'd planned to stop at the downtown YMCA after work. Then I remembered I wanted to pick something up at Jefferson Pointe, so I figured I'd hit the Jorgensen YMCA in Aboite Township instead.

But as I stowed my purchase in the trunk, it seemed so nice out I decided to stop by a jogging trail on the way home.

Trouble is, I've got a longish commute, and I'd gotten up insanely early. It was only midday, but I was so drowsy I thought I'd head home for a nap. I awoke just in time to drop my son's sports gear off at the high school before heading over to pick up our fourth-grader.

I pulled into the parking lot at Colleen's school about 20 minutes before the bell — just enough time for a quick lap around a nearby 1.25 mile trail. (Luckily, even as I'd spent the day putting off a workout, I'd at least changed into workout clothes.) I got back to the school just before the kids were dismissed.

My “taxi mom” duties were far from over, so even if I'd missed that opportunity, there would've been others:

•I could've run or walked around the high school basketball courts where Colleen had practice later that afternoon.

•I could've stopped at the Wells County YMCA during or after her practice. (We needed to get milk at the Walgreen's next door anyway.)

•It would've been dark by the time we got home. But I could've turned on some tunes and done some dancing, step aerobics or hula hooping. Or I could've simply walked around the house putting away laundry and so forth. (I'm pretty sure I could've done that for at least half an hour before I ran out of things to put away.)

Each day presents its own set of obstacles. Learning to hurdle them is just part of the fun.

Tanya Isch Caylor, a News-Sentinel copy editor, blogs on diet and fitness at www.90in9.wordpress.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.