A couple of months ago, I joined the YMCA right next to where I work. I joined for a couple of reasons:
- I had my meal plan down, pretty much. I really wanted to start adding movement (my nutritionist calls it all "movement" instead of "exercise" because it seems to be a less triggering word for us with EDs) to my life again, for health.
- I also wanted to do something that didn't hurt my leg at all. Ever since the break, I've not been able to go back to what I used to love, which was running. Even with physical therapy and a year of time, my leg is not the uninjured leg that it used to be. And I heard that this gym had a great lap pool, and I figured swimming would be a great new hobby for me
And that's exactly what swimming had become for me: a hobby.
My new motto when it comes to exercise is that if it's not a hobby, I won't be doing it. I plan to get my ankle back in bike riding shape by September. For me, biking and swimming are hobbies, not exercise. And I believe that will be the key to "sticking with" something: really enjoying it.
My technique is sloppy and flawed. I am excellent at swimming, but have no technique and am very slow. It's a struggle to not focus on the numbers (how many laps, how long it took me to do this lap, how much time, etc.) when swimming, but when I notice my brain going there, I just focus on my breath.
It really is relaxing to me, even though it's also a killer workout. I wear ear plugs, so I can really use the swimming time as a breathing meditation. Breathe in, breathe out. Really feel the water. How does it make my body feel? Am I still having a good time, or am I getting competitive and not having fun anymore? Is it time to get out, or am I good to go?
I also think it's a shame that so many of my fellow overweight/obese exercisers steer clear of swimming because it means SWIMSUIT. I'm here to tell you that not only is it easy to forget what my body looks like because I'm so focused on how the water makes my body feel, that this low impact movement is the best thing for my knees and ankles.
It's probably the best exercise for obese folks, but the world will never know, because we hate looking at fat people in swimsuits. And that's just sad. And maddening. It's smaddening.
I will continue to be a fat swimmer, because I love swimming, and my body is obese. And somehow, I have really gotten over how I look in my swimsuit, at least at the gym. :-)