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According to the National Heart Association, only about 31 percent of American adults report regular leisure-time physical activity.

I am not in that 31 percent.

In some ways, I feel like a poser posting on Fitness Monday. Though a large part of my lack of regular activity is because of some health issues, a bigger chunk is because I have developed a serious lack of self-discipline.

Between the internet, a lack of structure in the summer, and the inherent difficulties of regaining strength and stamina, my plans have gone awry.

Returning to fitness is difficult. At one time, I was an avid biker and tennis player, often biking a few miles round trip to play a set. But now, after years of alternating between an oppressive workload during the academic year to oppressive weather during the summer, that level of activity is currently an impossibility.

Walking is still good; I'm not a complete couch potato. Leisurely biking for a couple of miles is okay. But cranking it up tells me that things are not going well. It doesn't take long before muscles protest and heart pounds. My brain tells me that things will get better over time, but it's not enough right now to regularly get me past the pain and nausea of pushing my body to do more.

I still remember how incredible it felt to bike for thirty miles in the spring, to play tennis for hours. Though those memories are an incentive to get back to that level of fitness, it's also profoundly difficult to remember how easy it once was, and how it doesn't feel at all like that now. The contrast is disheartening.

Why am I posting this in Fitness Monday? Because I am in the majority. Many of us struggle with reconciling the desire to feel better with the hard reality of what it takes to get there. We already know the simple truth: The way to do this is to do it. But getting past those first tiny steps when there's a lot of effort for only incremental payoff is a major hurdle. After that, success builds on success more easily. But at the beginning? Agh.

Why do I read Fitness Monday? Because there's so much great advice here. Because you are sharing the ways in which you've made your lives better.

But mostly because you are inspiring. It can be done. Change can happen.

Originally posted to fiddler crabby on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:55 AM PDT.

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