Sunday, January 6, 2008
January Weigh-In: Janet Harper
"Weighing In" is a new monthly article I will be posting to the blog that features one individual's experience with and perspectives on physical activity. Our personal health is linked to a unique history, upbringing, and exposure to resources. It is my hope that by sharing one another's realities, struggles, and successes, we can come to appreciate our own strengths, and be more forgiving of our perceived flaws. Perhaps learning from each other will breed self-acceptance, reservation from judging others, and confidence.
I asked Janet Harper, a member of Muscle Group (MG), to be the first to weigh in. A few months back, she was a stranger to me, a referral of another woman I hardly knew. All I knew about Janet was that she seemed to be moving against the grain so effortlessly. She finished work in Center City on Tuesdays and Thursdays, ran over to the Art Museum, exercised hard for an hour, then ran back to work - even when it was freezing out. At the beginning, she didn't know anyone at all in the group, and I was immediately impressed with her courage, modesty, and work ethic.
How old are you?
How was physical activity first introduced into your life?
Fitness was not part of my upbringing and not something I gave much thought to until I reached my mid-thirties. I started walking with a friend in the neighborhood. After a few years we both joined Curves, and after 2 years I joined a Gym.
In what type(s) of exercise, physical activity, or athletic pursuits do you currently participate?
I mainly walk, run, and workout at the gym with various weights and machines. I am experimenting with different areas of fitness right now and trying to figure out what I really like. I enjoy jogging and running on the weekend when I have the time, and in the spring, I am looking forward to purchasing a bike and seeing how I like riding.
What does fitness mean to you?
Fitness means being in good health and having a good quality of life as I get older. Recently, in the last year, I have been looking at the people in my life in their older years and I see so many health problems that can be avoided by exercise and eating right.
What is your favorite type of workout? What leaves you feeling invigorated?
I like doing cardio followed by weights. I feel so much better when I combine the two. My muscles are tired but I always have so much more energy when I'm done. Also, I love to workout or run in the cold.
Speaking specifically, what is your favorite exercise? Least favorite? What is it you like/don't like about these?
My favorite exercise is probably running, though I am still working through the boredom factor. I have to say I read your blog and instead of running at a steady rate, I have incorporated the intervals and find it helps. I think I like running because I can set my own pace. My least favorite, and of course the ones I need to work on the most, are my abs exercises. After two kids and two C-sections, no matter how much I do, I will never be able to get my abs back in the shape I would like.
What is your profession and what hours do you work? What time does that leave for exercise? How do you fit it into your day?
I work in an office and work 9-5, however I like to be in work early and am usually there by 8 and I often stay late. In the last several months, I have started to walk every day at lunch for about 30 minutes, and often walk in the morning before work for about 10-15 minutes. As far as going to the gym, I like to go at night anywhere between 8:30 to 9:30 and work out between an hour to an hour and a half, usually 5 days a week. This works well into my schedule...since my husband gets home at 10:30 after I work out, I usually have plenty of energy to stay up and have some time together.
Who/what has supported you in your fitness pursuits? How?
My fitness pursuits started with a good friend who walked with me when no one else would and kept me motivated through my two years at Curves. I have to say, if it was not for her encouragement (or should I say forcing me to go with her when on many occasions I would not have gone) I don't think I would have gotten to where I am today.
What factors play into your motivation the strongest? (i.e. friends, weather, money, work, scheduling, sleep, etc.)
I think my biggest motivation now, as I said earlier, is the health factor. I see so many people in bad health or generally just feeling lousy because of their lifestyle. This motivates me most to keep going. I tell myself this is a lifetime commitment, not just a way to lose a few pounds. I try to work out five days a week. I make sure to to work out some way those five days no matter what the weather, either the gym, [Muscle Group], or running on the weekends.
Who are your health/exercise role models? What do they embody that inspires you?
I can't really say that I have an exercise role model. I admire the way you can get down and do a push-up effortlessly, which I suck at. And I have to say I would like to one day be able to keep up with your mother at the workouts. I do admire your mother because she embodies everything I would like to one day achieve. She looks great, has amazing energy, and kicks ass at the workouts.
In what exercise settings do you feel comfortable? Why? What settings do you find uncomfortable and why?
I feel most comfortable running outside because I am on my own with no one around and I can go at my own pace. I do go to the gym but I don't find the atmosphere comfortable. I would prefer an all girl gym.
Fill in this statement: I can't imagine exercise without ________________.
Music. I put my MP3 player on and I am in my own world when I am at the gym.
When it comes to exercise and health, what still remains a mystery for you?
I think the biggest mystery is just finding what works for me in both exercise and eating. I have been reading a lot more lately - books, magazines, and online. There is just so much information that it takes a lot of time to digest and sift through what works or even what is real and what is crap. I am just in the beginning stages and have a long way to go.
What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to eating?
Potato chips and ice cream. I rarely bring them in the house and when I do, I will eat the whole bag of chips or all the ice cream by myself. My kids always know to have the ice cream as soon as possible or they won't get any. When I am at a party, I will sometimes eat only the potato chips. I usually set up camp right next to the bowl.
What's your favorite OutFit?
I have to say that I love clothes and I like to dress. I can't say that I have a favorite outfit but I do prefer wearing shirts with heels in the summer and shirts with boots in the winter.