"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Joys of Swimming

I recently discovered the joys of swimming.

After returning from Germany, Mark and I made a pledge to get on a healthy kick.  We both needed to lose some weight and get into shape anyway and eating schnitzel and sausage for a week didn’t exactly help.  So we’re having salads and cooking more fish and tofu and eating fewer tacos and burgers and trying to avoid too many sweets.  I for one feel good and like most of the healthy foods.  Mark, on the other hand, sends me pictures of his lunches (salads with all sorts of green things lurking in them and even *gasp* a tomato) with texts that say, “The things I do for love.”  Don’t worry—he’ll survive.

The healthy eating has been pretty easy for me, but the exercising has been a little harder.  Mark rides his recumbent exercise bike before work, but I cannot get comfortable on that thing—it always hurts my back or butt.  And it’s boring, because you don’t go anywhere.  I walk Uno every morning, but it turns out that’s not exercise.  At least not for me.  I used to walk for exercise.  In my old neighborhood, I took brisk 30-45 minute walks, but I would get lazy about how often I went or start snoozing instead of getting up early.  I thought when I finally got a dog, he would give me the motivation I needed because he’d HAVE to be walked.  Well, Uno does have to be walked, but it’s not very brisk.  It’s a lot of starting and stopping and sniffing and peeing and staring at joggers.  And there’s not going to be any jogging or biking with this dog because he’s too “delicate”.  At a year and five months old, we are already convinced that he’s going to have joint or hip problems.  But if I go on a long walk WITHOUT the dog, I somehow feel guilty.

So walking’s out.

To sum up and get to the point, walking isn’t working anymore, I am scared of gyms, it’s too dang hot outside to do anything between 9AM and 9PM, and Mark’s exercise bike is boring and uncomfortable.

So… I have discovered swimming.

Our neighborhood pool opens every weekday morning at 6AM for lap swimming and I am now heading there two or three times a week between 7 and 9AM to exercise.  And it is amazing.  First, swimming is good exercise anyway.  And I don’t do it well.  I have never had any formal swim lessons, even as a kid, so my form is… almost nonexistent.  But that’s ok.  Because I honestly think that flailing in the water burns more calories than a nice stream-lined stroke.  Secondly, it’s not boring.  There are whistles and conversations and sometimes music and always the soothing splishy-splashy sounds of the pool to keep me company.  And I am moving down the lanes, going somewhere, even if it’s just to the other side and back again.  But third (and most importantly) it feels wonderful to exercise while staying cool at the same time.  How else can you spend an hour outside in Austin in August burning calories and working your muscles while not building up a sweat?  I love it.

I haven't graduated to goggles and a swim cap yet,
but I do have a couple of nifty kickboards.

Mark asked me how it is that I went 35 years without discovering swimming.  It’s because the pools I grew up with were only for recreation.  Terrace Pool, where I spent many summer days as a kid, was just divided in half.  Deep end and shallow end.  The deep end had two diving boards—a low dive and a high dive—and was reserved for their use only.  The shallow end (about 5 feet at its deepest point) was where all the kids played.  If you wanted to swim there, you had to constantly dodge all the little kids and it really wasn’t worth the effort.

Mainly I just did handstands and played Marco Polo and dove for nickels for hours on end, which was good exercise but not the kind of exercise you are allowed to do as an adult.  Honestly, I wish I could.  I am still a kid, not just at heart but in practice too a lot of the time.  Mark and I are not going to have kids and I think one of the reasons is that we don’t need one.  I am our kid.  I like to go to the zoo and swing on swing sets and draw on the sidewalk with chalk, and if I could go to our fancy neighborhood swim center and entertain myself by doing front flips and handstands without making everyone think I was crazy, I would.  But it doesn’t work that way.  And without those childhood games to amuse oneself, hanging out in the water can feel a little awkward. 

Earlier in the summer when I finally convinced Mark to come to the pool with me one weekend, he did find the water refreshing and cool and he was impressed with the facilities and he did think the salt water pool was much nicer than the chlorine.  But after about five minutes in the water he said, “Ok, I’m at the pool.  Now what do I do?”

It’s true that without a little kid to play with (almost every other adult had one) there wasn’t much to DO except stand there and talk while alternately treading water for a minute, then floating on our backs, then standing again.  It was refreshing but a little boring.

Well, I have finally figured out what “grown-ups” without kids do at the pool.  They swim.  I swim.  And I love it.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos on swimming my friend! Swimming is my favorite form of exercise as most other things bother my asthma (or my butt like the bikes, lol. curse of being short). The past week and a half the swimming pool has been closed because they can't get the chemicals right. ARGH!
    When it's open we go to water aerobics and after my buddy Liz and I do extra exercises like the ones we did as kids. She does hand stands and flips and I do otter rolls and dolphin kicks. Great for the abs.