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Changing habits

Monday, August 11, 2008

Creating a new habit requires action, repetition, and commitment. When I started rowing two years ago, I had not consistent exercise habits. I would walk for a while and then find a reason to stop and then start up again. Walking was my exercise of choice. I could do it at work on breaks, at lunch time, in the evening when I came home and it was great preparation for vacations. When I lived at the beach walking was easy. When I moved to the foothills in San Diego, walking required more of an effort and was less enjoyable, so I stopped.

With rowing, I had a readily available exercise tool, 5 minutes from my home that I could use 24 hours a day; rain nor hot weather were any longer a problem. When I discovered the community on line of, I found a reason to row. As I wrote earlier, competition helped me to be more committed. And it was a great way to help me build me a habit, which I now have.

Now that I have the basic mindset of being a person who exercises and enjoys it rather than feeling that it was something that I was condemned to do, in order to stay healthy, I am a new person. New worlds are opening to me that I never knew before. I can entertain dreams of vacations that I would never have considered before. When I first read YOUNGER NEXT YEAR by Crowley and Lodge, Chris Crowley wrote about bicycling vacations, rowing camps, etc. This was so remote to me at the time, that I read these descriptions and they didnít interest me at all, except as an abstract concept. Now they are part of a growing vision of who I am.

I still have a long ways to go to meet my fitness goals and it is frustratingly slow compared to the changes that I used to be able to make in a short time when I was younger. At 62 years old, these changes seem to take longer. However, I am stronger now than I ever have been and my endurance is greater than it has been in years. I can see progress in the mirror and in my clothes. Iíve made lifestyle changes in my diet and exercise habits, but I am still refining these.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LILLIAN364 8/11/2008 6:30PM

    I understand. When I was younger, I didn't think I had the time to train to run a marathon. Now, at 44, I will train for a marathon. I believe unless I'm injured that I will run one.

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Balance in Life

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote of the motivational aspect of competition, but there are other factors that must me considered to have a truly balanced life. One of my awesome team mates on the SparkPeople Indoor Rowers has a great garden that she is working on this summer and hasnít been able to row as much as some other members of the team, these last few weeks because gardens have seasonal demands and rowing machines can be used in the middle of the winter when the garden may be covered with snow. This is balance in life.

As someone who never participated in sports when I was young, the competition aspect of rowing is new to me. When I was in school, I was out of balance and spent all of my time on academic and artistic pursuits. I also worked in the evenings, so there was no time for sports, but truthfully, I had no interests. My high school physical education instructors were all coaches and PE was something that they had to do in order to be able to coach their teams. I felt that they were entirely indifferent to students who had to take PE and most of our classes were just calisthenics or what they called ďmass punishmentĒ. Not know how to reframe it at the time I developed a hatred of all physical activity and coaches. I found an out by becoming the manager of the water polo team, which covered my PE requirement and allowed me to read while the team practiced in the pool. I received a varsity letter for two years for avoiding PE. I chose a college that had no PE requirement and was relieved to leave the whole world of physical activity behind. I was completely unbalanced.

Two years ago, I discovered rowing at the age of 60 and fell in love with the rowing machine with its little computer to track my training. A whole world opened to me that I never knew that existed. I had not even noticed the machine in the gym that I belonged to until my son pointed it out to me. I learned how to row through reading, practicing, rowing next to someone on an actual rowing team, and DVDís by Xeno Muller, an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. I really got into competition and it motivates me to go beyond my comfort zone and to go beyond pain and exhaustion to achieve my goals of moving up on the rankings of the team. I achieved my goal of being in the ranks of the very top of the team at the end of the rowing season, but had to make a decision to go further or consider that I was imbalanced in the opposite direction. I was ignoring signals that I was over training. I decided to stop rowing back to back half marathons and to consider adding balance into my life instead of causing an injury that would prevent me from rowing for an extended period of time. I actually rested on the last day of the rowing season, instead of pushing on.

Recently, I went to France to attend my sonís wedding. He and his fiancťe took us around to wineries, small villages, churches, historic cities, museums, etc. We did a lot of walking on cobblestone streets and I discovered that the specific training that I was doing on the rowing machine didnít really prepare me for walking long distances or up hills. I was away from rowing for about three weeks and when I returned, I had to start at shorter distance than the 16,000 meters a day pace that I had set for myself at the beginning of this new season. I also thought that I needed to add cross training, but I put this off until recently. I finally started it and my Oriental Medicine Practitioner has suggested that I had stair climbing and descending also, in addition to my added strength training. All of this creates more balance. At 62, at 5í11Ē with a long torso and relatively short legs and arms, Iím not going to be a contender for racing, so a solitary focus on rowing is not really logical. Rowing is a part of a more balanced exercise plan that should include walking, biking, strength training and swimming. Next year, when I put in my garden, gardening will be a part if of my summer routine too.

My goal is to attain more balance. So, to my friends who are gardening this summer: Great! Iíll join you next year or perhaps sooner as I have some preparation to do to have a garden space next year. You are already more balanced than I am. Gardening is a legitimate aerobic activity too. It is already on my ďfavorites listĒ, so I can add it to my daily exercise points. All of these activities are functional activities and they will all help us to have a healthier and happier life. Thanks for helping to remind me of that. While there is not as much competition on my present team now; there is more opportunity to reflect upon how all of this fits into a whole life, which as adults we have to live, not having the luxury of high school, college, or professional athletes who are in the time and place of their lives when they can specialize for a period of time and find excellence in achievement in that specialization.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZESTYLADY 8/10/2008 2:34PM

    You have a kind and generous spirit in addition to the heart of a competitive warrior! I would say that this is balance as well. I am a huge fan of functional cross training...real life movements made better and stronger through a variety of training. I watched the Olympic rowers yesterday and could not help but admire their dedication and the fact that, in close -up, that British guy in the front of the boat looked like he was strolling in the park! Then the announcer mentioned they were averaging 38 SPM's...I row at 30 SPM so only need to go 8 faster/minute and I can be a "contendah!" In my dreams!!! I was also noticing that there is a lot more torso twisting in a real boat. As a total newby, I did not realize they were only rowing on one side. Do they swap sides to stay balanced???

Today's functional exercise includes scraping popcorn texture off a ceiling...ladder climbing and overhead movements...

Here's a toast to Maslow and his hierarchy!

Row, row, row your boat...

Comment edited on: 8/10/2008 2:32:57 PM

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Competition as Motivation

Friday, August 08, 2008

One of the best incentives that I have found to get me to the gym is to be on a Virtual Rowing Team on I started with my alumni team: USC, but only one person on the team was really rowing and the others were on the team in name only. I quickly passed up the team leader and had to content myself seeing my efforts move the team up on the rankings, but without any team support, it became frustrating. I was recruited to another team that was starting up and it attracted really competitive rowers from all over the world and I found it very motivating to get to the gym and row even when I was on vacation. We finished the year in first place of teams with our number of rowers and 2nd place against a team with over twice as many members. Last year, I switched to a team based in Southern California, The Iron Oarsman. This is captained by Xeno Muller, a Gold and Silver Medalist in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. This team has very competitive rowers also and again I found it very motivating to get to the gym every day and row to keep my ranking on the team and to help the team maintain its international ranking.

As a member of SparkPeople, I was very excited that INFOMAGE stated Indoor Rowers and I applied to Concept2 to start SparkPeople Indoor Rowers to offer a venue for all of the interested members of the Indoor Rowers to compete on a larger stage. We now have 5 members on the team and are in 10th place for Virtual Teams of 1-5 members. I still keep The Iron Oarsman posted on my Google Home Page so that I can continue to compete against the serious rowers on that team top keep me motivated as I am in first position on our team, but there is no one close enough to me in meters on our team to motivate me to row more. Perhaps others are not motivated by competition as I am, but if you havenít competed on a team before, or are not now on a team, I invite you to join us on the SparkPeople Indoor Rowers and help us to move up on the rankings. The team that is immediately ahead of us in 9th place has only one member, so this is something that a team effort could easily overcome. It has motivated me to row at least 10,000 meters a day and it could also help to motivate you to get on your Concept2 and row every day too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZESTYLADY 8/9/2008 11:51AM

    I hate not holding up my end of the rowing, but life is a bit physically challenging right now. Things will settle in September and the dreaded summer chores and activities will end leaving me time to indulge in rowing. Thanks for the ongoing nudges to keep rowing in my life!

Comment edited on: 8/9/2008 11:49:17 AM

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Awaking From a Dream!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

When I explored the Angus Adventures site about their sponsors, I found that my dream is not as far off as Europe. There are bike trails around bodies of water here in the United States and Canada. Colin and Julie Angus will be making their newly designed boat available in 2009 as a kit. The folding bicycles are available form a company in Louisiana, the boat trailer from a company in Vancouver, Canada and the camping gear is available from a favorite supplier near everyone. Three locations that seem great are Lake Champlain, the Erie Canal, and the sheltered water off shore from British Columbia.

An interview that I hear recently with Canadian body builder and trainer Vince Delmonte where he distinguished from Outcome Goals and Process Goals. He said that we can't control Outcomes, but we can control the Process that will help us to get there. With this in mind, I have added riding on a stationery bike in addition to my indoor rowing to prepare me for the realization of my dream. In addition, I am increasing my strength training to burn more fat and build more muscle.

Now I need to order maps and information from the various bicycle tour sites and start setting more process goals to bring me closer to my dream.


I Have a New Dream!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I have a new dream and inspiration! I get Google updates on Rowing and a couple of days ago, I received a notice of a human powered expedition from the north of Scotland to Syria. While I would not attempt a trek this ambitious, I was inspired by Colin and Julie Angus for their creative approach to making such a journey. First, they designed a sculling boat that was more sea worthy than a canoe and had greater cargo capacity than a kayak. It uses a sliding seat, so it is more efficient to row than either of these boats too. It can store camping gear and a bicycle and trailer so that the boat can go in water or on land. Two boats can be anchored together and you can set up a tent between them after you have dropped anchor. This type of journey required great endurance and cross training on a bicycle. It also requires strength training, as there is not always an easy way to pull the boat out of water to bring it our of a canal.

I used to backpack and ride a bicycle and now I love rowing. This type of travel combines three of the activities that I love or have enjoyed in the past. In 2009, when the Angus's get back from their long trek, they are gong to market plans and complete kits to build a boat like the ones that they are using on this expedition. Their friend in Vancouver, Canada makes an elegant and light weight trailer to be pulled behind a heavy duty folding bicycle. I'm looking forward to buy their kit and building my own boat. Now, all I have to do is get really fit, cross train, and wait until my kit arrives from UPS sometime next year!

Some once said that you should only have big, bold audacious dreams and this seems to qualify.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOALBY66 8/2/2008 11:19AM

    Big dreams are what motivate us! Go for it :)

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ZESTYLADY 8/1/2008 9:08AM

    Now that is a DREAM!!! My brother and nephew built their own canoe once. It was an amazing experience and it floated as well! I see the big, bold, audacious dream in your future because of your clarity and focus. Row, row, row your boat!

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