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30 days in

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

So, I’m 30% through my hundred-days-at-the-gym commitment. What are the results so far?

-I’ve gained 2 pounds
-I am not able to lift appreciably heavier weights
-Other than swimming, I am not appreciably faster
-Lifting on Sunday, I twinged my old shoulder injury which made me temporarily lose control of the weight and pulled muscles on my left side in my arm and my chest wall that keep giving my twinges that make me scared it’s my heart (yes, I am going to the doctor tomorow to get myself checked out, but taking Advil made it go away yesterday evening, so I’m not too worried)
-I have improved my abs so that I can do 3 sets of 10 leglifts on the captain’s chair, whereas at the beginning I could only do 3 sets of 5

What is my analysis of these results? It would be easy to be discouraged, because the markers that we generally look for are not there. But I’m looking at it a different way. I was already walking quite a bit and lifting, though not with regularity and discipline. So my fitness in these areas was already pretty good. Therefore, it’s not actually surprising to not see much change in so short a time, since my baseline in those areas was already high.

My swimming speed and my abs, however, were abysmal. I hadn’t been swimming since last summer, and I hadn’t been doing ab work. So it’s not surprising that I saw quick improvement in those areas because my baseline was really low.

When we see a story about someone who made vast improvements in their fitness really quickly, they usually involve either someone who was not involved in fitness at all prior to their effort, or someone already in great shape who is now making fitness pretty much their full-time job (I’m thinking of actor training up for physical roles where they spend 6 weeks in intense training and such). If a person is starting from a position of “already working out and in reasonable shape,” then the changes that upping that workout time will bring are going to be less dramatic.

Which is to say, yes it would be awesome to say that my cardio fitness went through the roof and I can now benchpress a Volkswagen. But also not a realistic expectation. My improvements are smaller, but they are there. And they will continue to grow.

If my approach to fitness was one that focused on weightloss and dress size, I would probably be discouraged, regard it all as a failure, and be tempted to quit. But because I am focused on health and activities like triathlons, I am still feeling very positive about my accomplishments.

And now it's time to get to the gym.
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