Monthly Archives: September 2013

Things are Going to Get Sweaty: the beginning of Phase Two

I did it; I completed my repeat weeks of 3 and 4 and tomorrow I will begin Phase Two of the LiveFit program. This is a bittersweet moment; sweet because, holy crap, Phase One is over and I am still going to the gym and, for the most part, enjoying it, and bitter because tomorrow the dreaded cardio workout shows its ugly face. It shows its ugly face FOUR times next week! And a rest day is being subtracted, we only get ONE rest day! This is ludicrous! This is asking too much! This is……..how most people maintain a healthy physique, and I guess I’m going to have to stop grumbling and get over it by tomorrow.

I wouldn’t be dreading the cardio workouts so much if I had any innate athleticism or grace. Unfortunately for me, those genes come from my Mom’s side of the family and my brother got them while I was blessed (cursed) with my Dad’s lack of coordination and natural athletic ability. It’s not for a lack of trying; I have worked pretty hard at some things and only managed to achieve a level of mediocrity verging on ‘not too bad’ while ‘pretty good’ remains forever out of reach.  Forget about ‘Great!’ or ‘Fantastic!’, I’d settle with just being pretty good at something.*

The problems begin with my lack of coordination. I don’t run, I galumph. I make so much noise slapping my enormous feet down on the treadmill that when I begin, the person on the treadmill in front of me never fails to glance over his shoulder to see if someone has brought a circus elephant in for some training. I would take my one-woman show outside to the privacy of some secluded running trails, but I can’t run without the treadmill’s speed settings. Try as I might, I cannot self-regulate. My run will begin at what I believe to be an appropriate and sustainable speed but then I keep accelerating until eventually I trip myself (those big feet again) and fall down or twist an ankle. So, treadmill it is.

After I have galumphed for a bit on the treadmill (maybe two or three minutes), I start to sweat. “Well, duh,” you’re probably thinking, “we all sweat when we run,” but I mean SWEAT. My shirt will be soaked and if I forget to wear a headband, the sweat will drip into my eyes. It wouldn’t be embarrassing  if the timer on the treadmill read more than 5 minutes, and if the excessive sweating didn’t lead to what I like to call Tomato-face. My face gets really red. So red that people have stopped to ask if I am feeling alright (to which I’d like to reply “I’m running, and not doing it very well, so, no, I’m not feeling alright” but I can’t catch enough breath to say all that so a thumbs-up has to suffice).

In reality, I am probably my own worst critic and it is entirely feasible (probable!) that nobody else is paying that much attention to me. It can be hard though, really f*ing hard, not to compare yourself to those who are more fit or have a ‘better’ body than you do, and even harder to haul yourself up onto that teeny-tiny little spin bike seat next to someone who looks as if they were born on a spin bike. ** In all honesty, that is probably what I am dreading MOST about starting the cardio workouts tomorrow; that I will look like a rhinoceros running next to a gazelle, a sumo wrestler running next to a ballerina, Pumbaa running next to Timon.

So, think of me tomorrow around 10:30 am (Central European Summer Time). I will be on my treadmill; size ten women’s sneakers flapping against the belt, tshirt drenched in enough sweat that it looks as if I’ve sprinted ten miles before I’ve galumphed one, face a volcanic red, but chugging along just the same, putting one gigantic foot in front of the other, in the name of good health. Hakuna Matata!

*My sport of choice is riding, and while I had a few shining moments during my collegiate career, they came by a LOT of hard work on the parts of myself, my coaches, and many very forgiving horses, as well as some luck and good timing.

**’Better’ is a relative term and I think it would help us all to stop comparing ourselves with other people and instead focus on our personal progress and goals. It does nobody any good to wish to look like someone else, we have to instead wish to look like our healthiest selves. I’m not saying this is easy, but it is something we could all work on.

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Interrupted

As this ‘experiment’ in exercising began, I looked ahead on the calendar to see when I would be finished with my self-inflicted torture and was pleased to see that a wedding I have been looking forward to would fall in the later weeks of the program (surely I’ll be looking damn fine by then!), and also disappointed to note that I would have an unavoidable two-week interruption when I would not be able to go to the gym AT ALL. Not once.

My first thought was to wait and start the program after the interruption, but then I said to myself, “Self, if you don’t get yourself to the gym and start this program tomorrow, you will most likely NEVER start this program.” And it’s true. I know myself pretty well; I don’t do the at-home video game or dvd workouts because If there is a couch in the room I will sit on it and not do the work out, I don’t go to the gym after work because I’m tired and hungry and will usually talk myself out of my sneakers and into my pajamas in under thirty minutes, and I don’t wait to start a project that I find unpleasant because if I put it off once, I will continue to make up reasons for putting it off indefinitely. So, I started the LiveFit program knowing that I would get through the first four weeks and then have to pause while my family visited for two weeks. Not an unpleasant interruption, but an interruption just the same.

As the program started to build, I began to feel  more strong and confident. I could lift more weight (even the push-ups became almost easy!) and I understood the exercises better. It was like I had cracked some foreign code when I began to look around the gym and recognize what the various machines were for. My proudest moment was when I worked out with two of my FFFs and they admitted that the exercises were kind of tough. The program was helping me make progress, and that is one of the most important factors in an exercise program; if you don’t see or feel progress, its easy to get discouraged and give up.

By recording each day in a little notebook that I can take around the gym with me, I was able to see that I could lift ten pounds more in week four than I could during week one and that I could do ALL of my push-ups the ‘real’ way and not the ‘girl’ way. Progress is a fantastic feeling and by the end of week four, I was flying pretty high.

And then I took two weeks off……….

and ate food like this………   Knoedel

and the only exercise I got, was walking around in places like this…………

Alps

Thankfully, most of the sights worth seeing in and around Germany are situated on top of a hill and the walking I did could counteract the delicious beers and knödels I consumed. The break from the gym was worth the time I got to spend with my family, and I had a very fun vacation with them.

Knowing that I had a hiatus on the horizon, I was able to form a plan of action in advance. I stopped the program at week four, and week five was pivotal because that is when cardio is added into the daily workouts. Wanting to be fully prepared for week five, I decided to repeat weeks three and four to build my strength back up. It didn’t seem fair to ask my body to condition itself, then sit idle, and then work hard without any further conditioning. I have turned this into a fourteen week program, and after my first time back at the gym this morning, I am thanking myself for having such foresight.

Today was an unimpressive workout; my legs felt shaky and my core muscles weak. It is disappointing, but not surprising, and I’m not letting that bother me, because the real prize is that I WENT BACK TO THE GYM! It would have been so easy for me to blow it off (I’m busy catching up after my vacation, its too cold and dark to get up early to walk the dog before the gym, I missed two weeks so why bother finishing now…), but I didn’t. It might not have been pretty and it definitely wasn’t easy, but I hauled my ass to the gym and I did my thing.

So now, you try. Get out there and do your thing. Maybe you like to swim or maybe your thing is Prancercise? Whatever it is, do it!