Monday, April 11, 2011

The Little House on the Prairie Workout

When I was a kid, my very first chapter book was Little House on the Prairie, and for my entire life--teenhood, adulthood, and all--that series of books has never gotten old. I'm not sure why I still love them, but I do. I can pick up those books and enjoy reading them even now. I love me some Laura Ingalls Wilder. I suppose it's no coincidence that when things are getting busy or I really don't feel like doing the dishes, I think about how the pioneers did it. "Mary," I say to myself, "Ma Ingalls heated water on her wood stove to wash her laundry and then scrubbed them on a washboard before drying them on a clothesline where they'd freeze in the winter; you can surely fold the things you just got out of the dryer." I think along the same lines when I'm whining about figuring out what to make for dinner or procrastinating doing the dishes. And lately, I think along those same lines when I consider working out.

My workout routine has pretty much evaporated into thin air. Let's start there. In the winter, when Zinashi was napping for an hour and a half, and we were stuck indoors anyway, it was easy and mostly fun to work out to DVDs indoors. But now she's napping for a shorter time, if at all, and once she's up, I don't feel like keeping both of us inside, so I just haven't been working out. I felt guilty about it, but then I thought, "Did Laura Ingalls ever work out? Did she come home from school and hit the treadmill while Ma cleaned the kerosene lamps?" No, she did not. Such a thing would have been ridiculous. Laura Ingalls got all the exercise she needed by living her life. So I decided that I should do that, too.

Now, I'm not going to start washing all my laundry by hand every Monday, but I am going to take the opportunities my life affords me to get exercise without it being formal exercise. We've been walking when we need to go to Target, bicycling when the destination is farther. I've been trying to sit less and do more physical work around the house. So far, so good. My arms have yet to wither and develop pronounced bat wings, and I am pretty much the same size as always, if by "always" I mean since we came home from Ethiopia. It feels good to be moving in a way that is purposeful as opposed to moving for the sake of formal exercise, using time I could spend in ways that are more enjoyable to me and ultimately more productive.

That I will return to some sort of formal exercise regimen is probable. If we are still in Kansas City next winter, I will be hard pressed to figure out ways to expend energy that don't leave both Zinashi and me shivering. And I do love to run. If someday we live in a space that allows me to feel like I can just slip out the door and let my feet go, then I will surely return to it.

For now, I am enjoying the way things are. I get a lot done around the house, and am catching up on things I'd long put off. I'm a lot kinder to myself in regards to how I feel about my figure, too, and that has been the greatest benefit to come out of this. I don't know if it's a Lenten miracle or what, but suddenly I see my body for what it is: a gift. It is healthy, it is strong, it is good. I've got cellulite. I've got a smooshy bit at the base of my belly. And I'm okay with that. Maybe there will be other days of my life when it will matter, but right now, it just doesn't. I am healthy, and I am happy, and that is absolutely enough. I'm pretty sure it was enough for Laura Ingalls, too, if she thought about such things at all.

(She probably didn't.)

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