Weighty Matters

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Water Baby

on June 11, 2012

I’m a water baby and have been pretty much since I was born.   I have lived the majority of my years within minutes, if not steps, of the ocean.  (Exceptions — the year we lived in France and the two years I was away at prep school.)   Although I was born in January, I’m sure my mother brought me to the beach as soon as the weather warmed up enough for her to do so.  At four I was a competent doggy-paddler and by age five I was already doing freestyle, although I’m sure my form improved over the years.

Growing up, every summer we spent most of our days at the beach and I spent as much of those days in the ocean.  Even if we didn’t swim or paddle around on rafts, my cousins and I would spend hours jumping over or dunking under waves and body surfing to shore.  I love boats and fishing.  I think it’s amazing to go sailing, powered only by the wind.  I can happily spend hours on my porch looking out at the harbor.

It is no surprise to me that my favorite form of exercise includes being in the water.  From my early years of loving the silkiness of water on my skin, surrounding me, grew a deeper affection for buoyancy.   When you’re heavy, it’s incredible to feel lighter.  Bobbing with the ocean swells or floating on the surface, it was always a welcome relief to not feel the weight of my own fat sinking me.

Over the years, my excess weight has really affected my knees, particularly my left.  When I reached my top weight last year, it became truly difficult for me to walk even short distances.  Even before that time, I never enjoyed taking a walk as much as I liked going for a dip.

A few years ago, I started going to water aerobics classes and loved them.  Exercising was so much easier when I was embraced by H2O.  Unfortunately, the local classes don’t meet early enough for me to do them, shower, change, and get to work on time.   I couldn’t continue for more than a couple of months although I’d still go if I had a day off on a morning when classes were scheduled.

Last year I decided to put in a small pool in my backyard.  Originally, I wanted one of those endless pools with a constant current to swim against, but the structures I read about didn’t seem to be strong enough to withstand hurricane strength winds.  Since those storms are a real possibility here every year, I reconsidered my options and had an in-ground pool installed.  It isn’t huge.  I can swim a few strokes at a time.  However, at four feet deep, it’s great for doing water exercises.

I’ve devised my own routine.  I take out my iPod and my phone so I can set the timer.  I jog in place for awhile, varying the steps and the speed, singing along to the music.  I do lunges and walk from end to end, forwards and backwards.  I balance my hands on the steps and do extra kicks, or hold onto the side and perform a variety of leg movements, regularly increasing the number of reps.

Tonight I figured out that if I sit on the middle step and use my hands to help balance myself in the water, I can do crunches and other exercises that are good for the abs.

Forty minutes of this combination of activity doesn’t exhaust me, but at the same time my body tells me that it definitely worked.   I’m now pleasantly relaxed!

The key is for me to do this as soon as I get home.  That’s how I did it tonight.  As soon as I arrived, I let Nat & Pyxi out to play in the yard while I quickly changed into my swimsuit.  I didn’t give myself any time to flip through the mail, stall, do a chore or anything else.  Exercising in the pool was my priority.

I’ve been slacking and not doing the exercise on a regular basis.  My goal this week is to exercise tonight, tomorrow and Thursday.  Wednesay night I have Tai Chi class for an hour.  Saturday morning we’re doing a three hour intensive class.   That will give me five solid motion sessions in the week, which is a pretty good goal for me.   It’s important to stick to a regular commitment.  Not only does the exercising do good things for me, but I feel so darned good after I’m done!

In other aspects of water-love, although I shower every morning I have long been a fan of soaking in a bathtub for relaxation.  A few years ago, I started to fear that I’d gotten too big and might get stuck if I went into the bathtub.  I’m pretty sure now that it wouldn’t actually have happened, but I was too apprehensive to take the risk.

I no longer have that apprehension.  I know that, at my current weight, I will not get stuck.  So tonight, after I get some things done around the house, I’ve decided to reward myself with a nice hot bath!

It’s a great way to end the day for anyone — particularly a water baby!

7 responses to “Water Baby

  1. lunarmom says:

    Mary, I’m late to this one but I have a suggestion to add. (You know how much I ADORE my splashy class!) Google around for AquaFit, AquaJog, Water Aerobics, WaterWorks, any of those types of places on-line. They have tutorials, some free, some charge for it. But they give you really great movement options that can make a HUGE difference in your routine. Also, there are several exercises focused exclusively on knees! To strengthen gently.

    Yay you! I love the water* too, I just can’t swim. 😉

    *Okay, I love SOME water.

  2. Hope says:

    I am jealous of your tub. Oh so very jealous.

  3. Mary Stella says:

    I just want to share that I have rarely enjoyed a bath as much as I did the one last night. Someone gave me some lavender-rosemary bath salts last Christmas so I spent a very relaxing, pleasant half an hour soaking in lovely scented water and delighting in finally enjoying a bath in my awesome bathroom again. (I remodeled this bath four years ago. My contractor and I designed it together and, I have to say, it rocks. We sunk the tub in the floor and left recessed shelves tall enough for a wineglass. I’ll have to take pictures of the room and post them for you.)

  4. Mary, I took particular notice of how you didn’t let yourself get distracted. I am easily led astray! Each day I have grand goals, which diminish as the day progresses, until I’m pretty much satisfied with the bare minimum. It is true that I have a lot of humans I care for, but I’m going to be mindful of staying on track. I’m my own worst enemy in that regard!

    I would love a pool, but our yard is a little oddly shaped. And then there’s the issue of all the rocks here in northwestern Jersey. Ah, to be able to splash!

  5. Nan says:

    Mary, I’m so with you! I’m a water baby too, but fresh water is how I learned to swim. Mom taught us all in Lake Michigan–we went every weekend in the summers. As as adult, water aerobics and lap swimming are my exercises of choice and I’m in lake at every opportunity when we’re at the cottage on weekends. The weightlessness is an amazing feeling, you’re so right!

  6. robena grant says:

    Absolutely. There is nothing quite like water sports. I can never get over how going to the pool can invigorate and yet calm me and all at the same time. : )

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