I’ve Accomplished Something!

3 12 2009

So, I’ve been at the fitness thing now for about 3 months.  I freely admit that I’ve slacked off some since mid semester.  From early September to mid October, I was hitting the gym at least 4 times per week, and frequently 5 times per week.  After mid semester, things started ramping up with school.  Also, I’ve battled mild depression for a number of years and I’ve had a recurrence of that since about the end of October.  Between school and depression, I’ve not hit the gym nearly as much as I’ve wanted to.  I’ve done some crunches at home and worked with the dumbbells at home, but certainly not 4 or 5 days per week.  Occasionally I’ve made it to the gym to workout.  But I’ve c0ntinued to do SOMETHING on an ongoing basis.  It takes a while to develop a habit, I suppose.  Plus, I’m just not going to beat up on myself for being a busy student with a chemical imbalance that makes him feel down and listless at times.  Anyway, the point is that I’ve persisted and hope to be a more frequent visitor at the gym once my semester ends on December 8 (just 6 more days!).

Despite slacking off a bit, I think I’m making progress.  In fact, I know I am.  In the last 10 days, I’ve had 2 people comment to me (independent of one another) that I look slimmer, like I’ve lost weight (I have lost about 5 to 7 pounds in the last 3 months), and another person gave me a hug and then remarked that I felt firmer and wondered if I’d been working out.  How gratifying it is to have others actually be able to see (and feel) the results of my work!!!  It really does make me feel good inside, like I’ve accomplished something.

As vain as this sounds, I’ve always been secretly happy that I’m naturally skinny.  I think I get my genes from my maternal grandfather, who was tall and lanky until middle age.  While I’m not particularly tall, I’ve always been skinny.  I mean SKINNY!  Skin and bones a child.  I thought nothing of it when I was young, but as the years wore on and my siblings and friends aged, they all started putting on weight.  Lots of weight, some of them.  But I never really did.  I was still about 14o pounds at age 30!  Between age 30 and 40, I put on another 10 pounds, and then another 5 pounds between 40 and 43.  Now, that only puts me at 155 pounds by age 43, which I realize is still skinny by comparison.  But for me, gaining any weight was a new experience.  I spent the majority of my life eating whatever I wanted and never worried about putting on weight, and suddenly I’d put on about 10 to 15 pounds around my mid section.  AARGH!!!  And what I’m about to say also sounds vain:  I want to continue having a slim body as I progress into middle age.  I like being skinny.  As middle aged people reading this will agree, it’s a nice boost to the ego when you can still turn an occasional head in your 40s.  I don’t want to look like all the other 40-somethings.  I want to look younger than my age.  For the most part, people are surprised to learn that I’m 43 years old.  I frequently am told that I don’t look anywhere near my age.  I like that.

It was really nice to hear unsolicited feedback from others about my physique.  I makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.  Which I have.  And I want to keep at it.  I want to be the 44 year old guy next summer with the rockin’ hot beach bod!  Maybe I’ll also be a 44 year old distance runner.  Either one would be fine with me.  Either way, I’ll be healthier and happier.


Colder Temperatures Don’t Have To Cool Workout Routine

2 12 2009

Good info to remember for us workout newbies as winter approaches!

Colder Temperatures Don’t Have To Cool Workout Routine – Sports News Story – WTAE Pittsburgh.

Still At It…Kind of, Sort of…

17 11 2009

So, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted about my progress with making fitness a part of my life.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a grad student.  Just after mid semester in October, my work load in school began to ramp up and I’ve admittedly been lazy about making it to the gym (which I walk past at least twice per day on campus!).  The only excuse I can offer is an increasing exhaustion that comes each semester from sleep deprivation, and the sleep deprivation only gets worse the deeper into the semester I get.  Many days, I’ve simply been too tired after class at 7 pm to go through the motions of exercise.  It’s more mental and emotional exhaustion than physical.

I love how paradoxical life is.  The paradox here is that exercise is exactly what my brain needs.  It’s the best thing for dealing with mental and emotional stress and exhaustions.  If I would make myself go through the motions of getting into the locker room, changing clothes, heading into the weight room, and getting onto the treadmill then I’d likely feel so much better mentally and emotionally.  As I head into the home stretch of the semester (only 3 weeks left), I intend to push myself harder and get into the gym to do any kind of exercise.  Even if I don’t get right into the groove I was in a couple of months ago, I can at least do some basic cardio to reinvigorate and refocus my mind for a bit.

Before I give the impression that I’ve completely given up fitness in the last month, let me qualify a bit.  I have been doing some really basic things at home on a semi-regular basis even though I haven’t been making it to the gym.  I have some 10 pound dumbbells and I’ve been using them to do some bicep and tricep work (now that I actually have some biceps and triceps I don’t want to lose them!).  Also, I’ve been doing some crunches.  I had gotten myself up to 200 crunches per day as of a month ago.  While I’ve slacked off on the number of crunches, I’m still doing some crunches a few days per week.

One area where I have not made a lot of progress, though, is with my diet.  When I started working out regularly a few months ago, I started trying to modify my diet a bit as well.  I didn’t go all out with it, but I started trying to eat with more of an awareness of what and how much I was consuming.  Well, that has just completely not worked for me.  Or rather, I’ve not been working on it.  Again, the busy grad student excuse is all I can offer.  Quick, ready-made meals seems to have taken over my diet again, and the lack of nutritional value only exacerbates the way I feel mentally as well.

So, I give myself a small pat on the back for at least continuing to do a little exercise at home.  But I need to get back on my fitness horse and keep trying, which I will.  At 3 weeks to go in the semester, I need the mental and emotional benefits of exercise more than ever right now.

Stress, Motivation, and Excuses

27 10 2009

So, I have a confession to make:  I haven’t been to the gym in 6 days.  I’m not happy about this.  Since starting my workout regimen a month and a half ago, I’ve only ever missed 3 days in a row.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I’m a grad student and life has taken a considerably hectic turn in the last week where school is involved.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that I’ve allowed stress and anxiety to sap my motivation.  The truth is, working out would probably relieve my stress and anxiety and help me focus more on my school work.  So, I really have no excuses.

Speaking of excuses…I found a list of 10 Lame Excuses Not to Work Out that I thought would be fun to share.  Enjoy!

Cranky Fitness

18 10 2009

You must check out this fitness blog I stumbled across called Cranky Fitness – sure to amuse!  In their own words:

What the Heck is Cranky Fitness?
Cranky Fitness is a health blog written by Crabby McSlacker and Merry Sunshine.  Blog topics include general health, fitness, nutrition, personal development, disease prevention, aging, and whatever else the authors happen to feel like whining about on a given day.  Would you like upbeat inspirational advice about how easy and fun it is to eat healthy food, lose weight, and stay in shape? Then you will probably not like it here! One of the founding principles of Cranky Fitness is: Healthy Living is a Pain in the Ass.

How to Workout Your Abs Without Buying Stupid Crap

18 10 2009

I’ve been wanting to change up my ab workout a bit.  Here’s a great video I found for all of us beginners with some good suggestions.  Should make you chuckle as well!

Running for Beginners

12 10 2009

In addition to the basic weight training I’ve begun doing as part of my new fitness regimen, I’ve also started doing cardio workouts.  I’ve always been drawn toward running and have been fascinated by it since I was a kid.  So, my cardio workouts have involved 40 minutes on the treadmill alternating between walking and running.

Now, I like to think that, because I ran on the track team in high school (I was a hurdler), I don’t qualify as a beginner at running.  I was also a distance runner in high school.  By my senior year, I could run about 10 to 12 miles at a time, and in the warm months (I grew up in New Hampshire, so running was out of the question for half the year!) I would do that about 3 times per week.  However, given the fact that I graduated high school 25 years ago and have hardly run a step since that time, I’m fooling myself if I think I’m not as new to running as the person who’s never run a step in his or her life.  I am essentially a beginner.

I’m also impatient.  I know this about myself.  Whenever I start anything new, I want to be as adept at it right off the bat–whatever it may be–as the person who’s been doing it for years.  And that’s what I find myself already doing with running.  I’m trying to become an experienced runner too fast.  I’m trying to run as fast as they guy and gal on the treadmills on either side of me.  I peek at their speed and see that they’re running 8.5 miles an hour and I’m at a mere 5.5 miles an hour.  So I ooch my speed up a little bit, then a little bit more, and then a little bit more so I don’t seem like I’m such a newbie.  After several weeks of this, I can already feel my legs saying, “Whoa, slow down!”  However, I’ve also noticed that even when I’ve run at a slow pace, my legs sort of scream at me a little.  I think I need to accept that I have 43 year old legs and that it’s just going to take me longer to condition them than it would if I were 23!

And so, I’ve decided to revamp my running and put myself on a true beginner’s running plan, no matter how much I don’t want to.  There are tons of plans out there to choose from.  I’ve decided to go with the plan from the Runners World web site.  It seems like a pretty good routine that gradually builds new runners up to where they have a bit of endurance and stamina.

Speaking of running and my lifelong fascination with it:  I’ve always wanted to run a marathon.  I don’t know why, but I always have.  It seems like the ultimate accomplishment to me, like if I could complete a marathon then I could do anything.  I recently purchased a copy of The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer which a friend recommended to me.  I’m going to read through it first and then am hoping to begin training myself for a marathon.  The Pittsburgh Marathon is scheduled for May 2, 2010.  I wonder if that’s too ambitious of a goal?  Thoughts, anyone?