Exercise has never really been my cup of tea. In the past, there may have been activities I enjoyed that happened to be good exercise. The dance floor at Johnny Angel’s kept me thin through my early twenties. Trust me, my interest in dancing had nothing to do with exercise.

With each passing year, the activities I enjoyed burned fewer and fewer calories. After a bunch of health problems hit all at once in my late forties, I vowed to do better. I started riding my bicycle, weather permitting, and when conditions were right, even enjoyed it. I lost some weight, felt good about myself, and over the winter, gained two pounds back for every one I’d lost.

Nearly two years ago, I found Zumba. The only thing that would make this more enjoyable for me would be to mix in some of my old dance favorites from the seventies and eighties. As in the disco, mirrored walls where Zumba is held add to my enjoyment. I was hooked. Paying per class got to be a little pricey, so I joined a gym.

Because I’m cheap, I bought the most expensive membership I could get. The logic is uniquely my own. With the cheapest plan, I wouldn’t feel guilty if I didn’t go. The gold package came with a weekly thirty-minute session with a trainer, and unlimited access to the gym and most classes. I was determined to get my money’s worth.

Right after I joined thy gym, I used the Couch to 5K app on my phone and, for the first time in my life, took up running. In September, after a year of mostly stalling during my time with the trainer and skipping half my assigned workouts, my trainer took my measurements. I was shocked by how much my body had changed — in the right direction. If a half-assed effort got this kind of results, what would happen if I really applied myself?

My trainer punched up my routines, and I got serious about following his instructions. Though I sweat like crazy, I don’t consider Zumba two or three times a week to be exercise because it’s so much fun. Thanks to the mild winter, I’ve also been able to run almost every week. For the first time ever, I managed to lose weight over the winter, and was within three of the 200 pound goal I set for myself two years ago next month.

Then my doctor said I needed hernia repair surgery. I imagined days in bed, with someone helping me back and forth to the bathroom, followed by weeks of pain as I slowly worked back up to where I was before the operation. My biggest fear? That I’d gain back the fifty pounds I’ve lost over the last two years.

I quit exercising about a week before my March 14th surgery. Anxiety was a factor, along with working ahead as far as I could with my day job. Since the surgery, I’ve been prohibited from lifting more than ten pounds or doing more than walking. I didn’t realize just how addicted I’d become to exercise until I had to stop.

About two weeks ago, I noticed I was feeling blue. I’d gained ten pounds since the surgery. Instead of Mr. Sunshine — the guy who can always find the silver lining — I saw only dark clouds everywhere I looked. Then it hit me. I was jonesing for exercise.

That’s right. I was suffering from exercise withdrawal. EW!

Working in the yard this past weekend helped. For this week’s weigh-in on Monday, I’d lost almost three pounds since last week, and am within ten of my 200 pound goal. I’m going to reach it here in the next month or two, and when I do, will set another for 190.

Tuesday, after the surgeon told me to resume normal activity, I went home and ran four miles. The first mile, as always, was rough, as evidenced by my time of nearly 15 minutes. But halfway into that second mile, I was flying high with an ear-to-ear grin on my face, listening to Sylvester on my iPhone as I ran down the sidewalk. I  stopped, only because I felt like I should.

I’ll need to ease back into the weight-lifting. I see my trainer tomorrow for a new program. Sunday afternoon at three, you’ll find me on the front row at the gym, getting my Zumba on.

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