Friday, June 22, 2012

Exercising With Dolphins

Had a fantastic experience yesterday!  Went out early in the morning on my stand-up paddleboard  and did 5 miles along the back waters of Wrightsville Beach.  Great time of day, because its so quiet and peaceful. As I was paddling near the Coast Guard Station a dolphin broke the water about 50 feet away.  I instantly stopped to watch and see if he would come up again...and he did...about 25 feet away.  Over the next few minutes he got progressively closer with the final pass being just out of arms reach.  It was so cool!  The air was so still that you could hear and almost feel the gentle swish of his body as it broke the surface then arced back under after a quick exhale through the blow-hole on his back.  For a brief moment in time, I felt like I was in a totally different world, just me and the dolphin.

Eventually he moved on, but it was a moment I will never forget. 

Living on the coast, I have seen plenty of dolphins while boating, even when walking.  But its rare to get so close to one.  And the feeling you have standing on your board, out on the water with this amazing creature is indescribable.  And it was made even better by the fact that there were no distractions - boats, cars, noisy people, barking dogs - so peaceful, so mesmerizing. 

I've always dreamed of swimming with dolphins in the wild and this was certainly the next best thing.  And to top it all off, I was getting a good dose of fitness by being there on my board.  You can't go wrong with exercise that has these kinds of benefits!

As you may already know, I am not into the gym thing at all.  The whole concept of  structured "work outs" with weights, machines, mats, etc. is just a total turn-off to me.  In fact, when I was first starting the weight loss journey, it was one of those things that I saw as a roadblock to success, as it would be something I dreaded everyday, such that I would continually find excuses to avoid it.  Luckily, that isn't the only way to get exercise.

The key of course is finding things that fit your lifestyle and are actually enjoyable to do.  (Paddleboarding with dolphins fits my criteria!!!!) Gyms are great for some people, but not everyone.  It's something I have written about multiple times and of course gets plenty of coverage in the Eat Slow Walk Fast book.  Long story short, walking is my core form of exercise (5 - 8 miles per day).  But stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is now a regular activity, though I can't do it everyday.

Of course, just like with gyms, SUP is not for everyone, but there is a certain thrill to being out on the water enjoying and interfacing with your surroundings - totally different from a boat.  On top of that, it give you a good upper body workout (nice balance for my power-walking).  And its not a coastal sport, as you can do it anywhere you have a body of water. I actually learned how to do it in my backyard pool.

So don't get dragged down by exercise that you dread - find activities that you can look forward to, as that will keep you on track for burning calories, killing pounds, and getting healthy. And if you make it down to the coast, rent a paddleboard and look for some dolphins.

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