I am not the type of person who likes to go to the gym. The ritual of packing a bag, driving to the gym, changing clothes, working out, showering, changing clothes, and driving home again always seems like such a major undertaking that it stresses me out before I’ve even started. But because I’m diabetic, exercise isn’t optional for me. In order to maintain control of my blood sugar, I have to get some type of exercise whether I’m in the mood or not.
I don’t mind exercise so much when it’s integrated into my day. And I actually love walking. My walk to and from work–blissfully listening to my ipod, looking out for the row of evergreens which, even though I’ve seen it a million times before, always reminds me of Andrew Wyeth’s Pine Baron–is one of my favorite parts of the day. In the winter, when the gym is the only option, it’s hard for me to motivate myself to exercise. This changes in the summer when my family and I spend a few weeks in Maine. All I want to do is hike, hike, hike. The sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the peak of the mountain is always compelling, but the appeal also comes from the constant discovery of new terrain and scenery. I’m not an athletic person normally, so it’s really as if I adopt a different persona in Maine. My friends who visit are stunned: Look at how nimbly she crosses the stream! I’m jealous of another friend of ours from Maine who lives in California during the year; there’s a mountain so close to her house that she can hike it every day before going to work. (It takes her about an hour.)
Winter is officially over now, but the weather in Philadelphia is nearly as cold and wet as if it weren’t. I’ve been thinking about summer and Maine, both of which are still months away. Over the weekend, though, the temperature shot up into the 70s. I went on a walk around a nature trail on a college campus near my house. It wasn’t a strenuous hike up a mountain, but I enjoyed seeing the woods and pond–a small taste of the Pennsylvania landscape which I think is just as beautiful as Maine’s. There were even some ducks in the pond!
This was a reminder to me that exercise doesn’t have to be a meaningless routine–there’s always a way to make it pertain to another part of life. Most of us probably don’t need to hunt the food we’ll eat for dinner, or build the houses we live in, but we still might have to walk to get to work, or shovel snow to clear out our driveways. The goal of a walk or marathon could be our desire to fundraise for a charitable cause. Or the inspiration could be as simple as reaching a place with a beautiful view.