Sunday, July 29, 2012
It's been an odd Sunday, but a pretty good day on the fitness front.
I started out by sleeping for 9 and a half hours last night. Hmm. Guess my body really needed the rest; when it doesn't, I can't sleep that late.
The extra sleep gave me less time for a pre-church routine, but that was okay. I got done everything that I needed to, including the standard morning exercises.
Got another "are you all right" comment after church. In the summer, we have "Lemonade on the Lawn" for social time. I've been pretty good about controlling myself with respect to the snacks that go with the lemonade this year. Hence, the comment: "Do you eat anything any more?" She meant well, but this is coming from someone who has known me for 20 years, and seen me at a healthy weight for the first time less than a year ago. I assured her that I'm maintaining this weight deliberately, and that I'm as fit as I've been in my adult life.
As I reflect on this episode, I remember several blogs about other people being less than supportive of weight loss efforts. That's not what's going on in this case. This person has known me for a bit over 20 years, and had never seen me at a healthy weight until last fall. Also, she has seen several family members and close friends develop serious health issues within the past year. Her concern is genuine, and I can forgive her for having "quick weight loss = health problem" as a first reaction.
OTOH, I *have* maintained pretty much the same shape for a half year or so. These comments are less common than they were a few months ago.
This afternoon's project was trimming the hedge around the house, then mowing the lawn to pick up the trimmings. Traditionally, I want to do the trimming on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. I missed Memorial Day this year because I was in the middle of Sedentary Work Hell then, so the hedge really needed a haircut.
Got the hedge trimmed, and started with the mowing. Halfway through picking up the trimmings, the mower quit on me. Then it started briefly, and died again. This is an electric mower, and I think it just got overheated; I'll try it again with the mowing only another day. Today, I was stuck raking the rest of the trimmings into the mower bag to haul them to compost.
The good news is that gathering the trimmings was not nearly the amount of effort it used to be. It used to really knock me out to rake all that stuff up and bag it, which is why I started mowing to pick it up in the first place. The good/bad news is that the lawn doesn't really need to be mowed. It was too wet to mow yesterday, but today it was dried out again. We're officially in a "moderate drought," which means I haven't mowed in the month of July and really don't need to; but this level of drought would not impress anyone from the Great Plains. There is still green in my yard, even in some parts that I haven't watered.
After not mowing the lawn, I took a walk. I had intended to forego formal cardio today in order to get the trimming and mowing done, but with the mowing aborted I had time. Walked 5K so I could record an entry in the virtual race that carries a drawing for something or other free that I probably wouldn't use even if I won it. But it's one of those stupid motivational tricks, and it worked on me.
There are a few things I would have liked to get done this weekend that I didn't get to. But I got the important stuff done, I got a good start at getting back on a normal sleep schedule, and I feel like I was able to relax.
It's nice to have a real weekend without having to get anything done for the paid job.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Motivation is an odd thing.
Yesterday I disrupted my normal routine. I went to a minor league baseball game with a group from my church, and took my daughter along with me. That's a twofold disruption. First, the game goes late with fireworks afterwards, so I know I'll be up past my normal bedtime. Second, there's ball park food for supper.
The weather was great, the company was congenial, and it was a fun time. The local team lost 2-1, sending a grand total of 28 batters to the plate for a lackluster performance, but that's okay.
I had the SP app with me, and I chose well for dinner. Since I had lots of calories left, I could fit in some ice cream. Yum! I even got to eat a normal bedtime snack at an abnormally late hour after I got home.
Comes the morning. The alarm has been turned off, but I'm up anyway. I get myself to go back to bed, and get up permanently an hour an 20 minutes later than the alarm would have gone off. I'm moving slowly, since I'm still sleepy-tired.
Moving slowly is okay on a weekend. It's one of my luxuries and I'll enjoy the ability to do that. Took my sweet time to get around to the first set of pullups, then the pullups and pushups went normally.
Didn't feel like doing the KB exercises while the steel cut oats were simmering, so I didn't. I told myself I'd do them later. Yeah, right. Where have I heard that line before?
In the midst of doing the cheap Spark Point drill, I took time out for the TGU/Windmill combos. Those felt so good I went right into the KB snatches. I have lots of time, so I did 3 sets of 10 instead of my usual 2 on work days. This is all taking quite a while, as I move loads of laundry through the weekend process and spend some time playing on the computer.
As I'm doing a set of KB dead clean/squat combos, it occurs to me that this is what motivation looks like today. I'm not hot to get to the next exercise, and I'm not pushing to do better than I did last time; I'm just *doing* it, because it feels natural.
I had about decided to deep six cardio for the day in favor of trimming the hedges and mowing. But the weather failed to cooperate. I woke to rain. The grass dried out enough to mow later, but by the time I would have got out, we had another thundershower. So I went for a walk in the aftermath of that shower, and walked through a few sprinkles. Covered 5K in 45 mintues and small change, for a reasonable but not exceptional walking pace. Again, low level motivation in action.
The bad foot is still not ready for real running. It let me do a couple laps of jog up and down my hallway this morning, but that's about it. Still . . . if I can keep up what I'm doing today, I'll be okay when the foot is well enough to let me run again.
Of course, today's level of motivation and pace of activity would totally fail me on a work day; but I'll worry about Monday when it gets here. This was Good Enough for today, which was a day after disrupted sleep patterns. The plan is to get to bed on time tonight, get the sleep back on schedule, and see how well I move by Monday morning.
For now, this is enough. Motivation has returned, from I don't know where and sparked by I don't know what. I'll enjoy it while it's here.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Wednesday has been a better day than Tuesday was. I got enough sleep. Maybe it wasn't enough to catch up on the deficit I've been running, but it was enough that morning exercises had proper motivation.
The bad foot is still griping about yesterday's abuse. It griped enough that I limited my lunch walk to 20 minutes, at less than full pace. But it didn't grip enough to keep me from getting in 10K steps today.
The weight trend is looking pretty sideways. That's a good thing, and a little puzzling for the issues I've had with getting exercise. But I'll take it.
Along about this time last year, I just started hitting my stride in losing weight. This year, I've become accustomed to seeing my year over year comparison be down 30+ pounds. That should change in the coming weeks, as my weight last year went down and my weight this year needs to go sideways. I'm trying to prepare myself for regarding that dropping year over year number as *normal*.
It just now strikes me that I've been tracking what I eat every single day, for over a year now. This has become the new normal for me. I'm seeing anniversaries of risky events, like the church breakfast in the park last Sunday. A year ago, I blogged about eating too much there. This year, I ate more but kept it in plan (an expanded maintenance plan) better. Tracking my food isn't flashy, but it's important. It's a Good Thing that I can do this naturally, regardless of the ebbs and flows of my motivation for fitness and regardless of my injury status.
I suspect that's what I need from the fitness effort, too; the ability to just do it, regardless of motivation, regardless of what else in my life happens to demand top billing. I'm there with food tracking. I'm not there with exercise. I'm not there with getting enough sleep. For now, I think I need to focus more on the sleep; if I mess that up, it's a Bad Thing for the exercise, too.
And with that thought, I'll post this and wind down for bed.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I'm running short of time to blog most evenings these days. Today is no exception, but I wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts/events.
Thought: I need to be more consistent getting to bed. Two nights in a row, I was up toward the late end of my bedtime range, *and* kept the light on reading for a bit after going to bed. Less sleep makes me less motivated to exercise, and less inclined to move in general. I never knew that until tracking various stuff on SP got me to pay attention.
Event: I worked from home today, which makes it more difficult to get my 10K steps per day in. I set out to take a 3 mile walk at lunch, and it started to rain. Then it started to rain harder. I wimped out, and *ran* back to my front door. It wasn't a lengthy run, probably under 100 meters; but by the time I got home, the bad foot was complaining.
That's no surprise, because I already knew I wasn't ready for a real run. The surprise/nuisance was the foot reminding me of the abuse when I set out for a walk this evening to fill in those 10K steps. The short 10K step streak I had is getting broken today.
I'll make another stab at getting to bed a little early, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for both rest and steps.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Once again, MARKSTIPANOVSKY is making me think. He says,
"If you start today and modify what you're doing then you've started to successfully become fitter, stronger and healthier...
It really is that simple. If you can only move for 1 minute and you choose to increase your exercise by another minute tomorrow and then exercise for 2 minutes every day this week you will be really successful...
Add one minute per week and in less than a year you will be exercising / moving and modifying for an hour every day... "
Somehow, it's not that simple for me. I get the part about starting with something I can do, and adding to it in small increments over time. Where I fall down is the question, "How much is enough?"
I've done the routine of starting an exercise, getting better at it, adding more, and ultimately burning out because it's too much. I've done that several times, with different forms of exercise. With some types of exercise, I've done it more than once. Enter SparkPeople, where one of the major things we are taught is that consistency is vitally important. It's better to follow a plan most of the time and get back on track after you slip a little, than to try to do everything and then end up doing nothing or very little.
Which leads me to the basic question: How much exercise is enough?
Exercise is the other side of the weight loss/weight maintenance equation. We all know that we need to eat in moderation, not in excess and not in starvation mode. So why would we think that we need to always keep adding more exercise? At some point, there won't be any more time to add and burnout will become a problem.
So, how much exercise is enough?
I don't have a good answer to that question. I suspect the answer will be different for different people, and it appears to vary over time for me. I have a few clues.
Last August, I set out to see if I could become a runner. I succeeded. I got to where I could run 3 days a week by following the 5K Your Way running program. Then I wanted to run 4 days a week. And I ran a competitive 5k. On Thanksgiving I ran a competitive 10K because I couldn't find a 5K. Then I wanted to run 5 days a week. Then I wanted to train for a half marathon.
It ended badly, with a foot injury that kept me from running at all between early February and late March. Just as I thought I was back, the foot got re-injured and I haven't run now since mid-June. I'll probably be back, and I'll do a few things differently.
But the important question is, how much running is enough? I was aiming for what looked like a modest 3 days a week at a 5K distance when I re-injured that foot. 20-20 hindsight says I came back too fast, and I can fix that by coming back more slowly this time. But still, however slowly I come back, I want to know: How much running is enough, and where do I need to stop adding?
Running and the foot injury is the most obvious cautionary tale in my life, but there are other examples. I've lifted weights and made progress, and burned out from thinking I should always be able to lift the most I've ever lifted. Intellectually, I know that isn't so; but males tend to believe it should be so. Call that a mild case of testosterone poisoning.
I have a couple of (so far) happy examples. Pre-spark, one of the exercises I did and burned out on was Turkish get-ups. Testosterone poisoning led me to favor doing the TGUs with a windmill at the top. I'd get pretty good, then miss a couple weeks, and be unable pick up where I left off, and then quit for a long time.
After finding SP, the TGU/Windmill combos became one of my standard exercises. I do one set of 5 on each side. That's it. Not two sets, not 6 or 7 or 10 TGUs. One set of 5. When I came back from the last burnout, I started with a 25 lb. kettlebell and alternated sides. Left, right, left, right . . . until done. By the time I found SP, I was using a 35 lb. KB most of the time, and going down to the 25 lb. on days when I felt weak.
I kept up the TGU/windmill combos daily for maybe 10 months (minus a couple weeks of doing partials when the injured foot didn't let me do the lunge motion) before missing a few days during a period of poor motivation. But I never missed a full week. I progressed from the 35 lb. KB to using a 45 lb. KB. I now mostly do 2 TGU/windmills on a side before switching. Left, right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left, right. On days when I feel strong I may try to do 3 in a row on the same side.
It's enough. I'm not stretching it to sets of 6, and I'm not out shopping for a 50 lb. kettlebell. Part of why I've kept it up is that I stopped with what was enough, and the incremental challenges after that were really small. That, and I allow myself to go backwards to alternating on days when I feel weak.
Then there are the pushups. These started during my first foot injury as 3 sets of 25 pushups on the swiss ball. I couldn't run for a long time, and it was a while before that foot would support a plank; and the sets of pushups got longer as I did more of them.
I stopped adding numbers when I got to 3 sets of 60 pushups. Yeah, I did a couple of tests where I did over 100 pushups. (Most recent endurance test, only 78.) But I've kept up the 3 sets of 60 pushups every day, even through the poor motivation. It's enough. Adding more risks burnout, and I don't want to go there.
Besides the cautionary tale and the good example, I have my puzzles. This year, I became able to do pullups. I was thrilled when I could do 3 neutral grip pullups in a row, because that meant I was really doing pullups and not just kidding myself with starting momentum. Right now, I can do 3 sets of 8 to 10 neutral grip, or three sets of 6 or 7 wide grip pronated pullups . . . and I can feel burnout creeping up on me if I push it to hard.
I really want to continue to be able to do pullups, which means I need to do them. But if I try to do too many, I'll burn out. So . . . how much is enough? I don't know here, and I'll have to find out by experiment. Maybe there will come a point where I can routinely do 3 sets of X pullups, and I need to go buy a dip belt to add challenge. (What a fantasy! Am I really thinking that's possible??) But I don't know what number X represents.
I have to respect the philosophy that MARKSTIPANOVSKY propounded. It's the way people who are just at the beginning of their fitness journey need to think. But I'm in a bit of a different place, and I need to think differently. The important question for me isn't how much should I add to my exercise routine. It's how much is enough, and where should I stop adding.
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