Category Archives: Fitness

14 – I Didn’t Realize

It appears natural for people to reflect on the past when the year ends; but, it also seems artificial.  I try to reflect on things important quite frequently, hoping that I learn from past mistakes and experiences.  I don’t always meet that goal, but have had good success in the past year or so.

That concept truly came to light when I looked back at my weight logs from January 2010.  I have been periodically documenting my weight on a notepad since 2002.  During my three experiences with Weight Watchers (including Weight Watchers Online), I kept all the official logs, which do go back to the 1990s.  Do others do that?  For anyone that doubts Weight Watchers — don’t.  It is solid psychology and science that adapts to changing data.

When I reviewed the logs today, I found that I was 14 pounds heavier on January 1, 2011, than I am today, January 1, 2012.  How cool is that?  I have become accustomed to my current weight range, as it is the range that feels most like me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I currently am not at the goal weight for Weight Watchers nor my own goal.  I am 4 pounds higher than the WW goal and 7-8 pounds higher than my personal goal.

However, I spent 90 minutes working out at the local Lifetime Fitness club today.  In addition, I worked out 15 times at that club in December, which I believe is a lifetime record for me.  I have never been a gym rat.  The music on the iPod Nano does help.  I do have a BlackBerry, which can also store music, but I find it too cumbersome.

The iPod Nano was a recent discovery and a Christmas gift – thanks to Mom and Jack.  The size is perfect. 

I wasn’t convinced that the heart rate monitors on the gym equipment were accurate or aligned to me and my size.  Every time I used the heart rate monitors at the gym, I thought the ranges were too high.  I purchased the Polar FT60 to monitor my heart rate and manage fitness.  I used the Polar for the first time, today, so time will tell.

Anyone who thinks change is too difficult — see photos from September 2010 and from December 2011 — you can do it!


Not a Gym Rat, But …

I did break down and join a fitness club.  I know myself well enough to realize that I need variety, and a fitness club offers just that.  Fortunately, there is a club about 1 mile from my home.  If the location was too far away or completely off my regular route, I wouldn’t go.  It’s a national franchise, which isn’t my preference, but I am definitely impressed with the level of customer service.  I have pondered the membership for the past couple of months, thinking about my past fitness club and YMCA membership experiences – usually went twice in the first month and never again.  One exception was when I worked at a YMCA as a lifeguard. 

I am not a fan of public workouts.  Call me strange, but I don’t want anyone seeing me work so hard that my face is sweaty, red, contorted, and I’m breathing so hard it drowns out the background noise.  That’s why I prefer to exercise in the privacy of my home, with resistance tubing, hand weights, a NordicTrack, and a plain, old, floor.  However, I love the water and missed swimming.  The local fitness club is an impressive facility that includes a spa, cafes, and an outdoor pool (bonus!). 

I thought about the last time I really spent time working out in a pool.  It has been at least 10 years.  I decided to try a water fitness class this week and was quickly reminded of the reason why I never embraced water fitness classes.  I am height challenged and I drift, even at the shallowest depth.  A friend and former colleague affectionately referred to me as a Hobbit, but I am taller than the average Hobbit (3-4 feet).  I cannot keep my feet on the bottom of the pool and constantly work to maintain my position.  It’s both hilarious and frustrating.  I went to the club to swim laps mid-morning today.  It was great, despite the smell of chlorine, which I find exhilarating.  I spent so much time in a pool when I was younger, initially as recreation, next as a member of the swimming and diving team.  Today, I was a victim of the many years I was away from the fitness club scene.  I lost the groove.  After the laps, I put my swimsuit in the locker room sink, while I dressed, and then left without it.  What a dope!  I remembered when I was about a block from the club.  I rushed back into the club and the locker room – it was gone – Wow – efficient locker room attendants.  It was the first time I wore that swim suit!  (My old lap swim suit is too big – hee hee – that’s a great thing.)  A friendly member services associate returned the wet swim suit in a plastic bag.  All was well.  It’s clear that I need some retraining in processes and procedures related to using a fitness center.

Not a Gym Rat

Like I’ve written before, I do not enjoy exercise just for its own sake.  Sure, I recognize the benefits to health and fitness.  To be motivated, I need to be entertained in some way.  Music or video doesn’t do it.  I would rather hike up and down a mountain all day than get on a treadmill for 30 minutes.  Exercise has never been my highest priority.  If I am given a choice between social/happy hour or a dinner with fun people and a workout session, the exercise session will never win.  I’ve never been nor will I ever be a gym rat.

Since I embarked on my transformation last fall, I have been spending small, but consistent, amounts of time on a classic NordicTrack and performing sit-ups and push-ups.  When I reached a weight I historically considered sustainable, but still had (have) 8-10 pounds to lose, I decided to move to phase 2.  I needed to step up the exercise, much as I dislike it, to meet my weight and fitness goals.

I knew the big box gyms wouldn’t work for me (been there, wasn’t impressed), so I researched alternatives.  I found a locally owned gym that specializes in customized, personal training options.  I took advantage of a marketing offer and gave it a try.  The first meeting was an information and requirements gathering session.  Erik, the gym owner (also a trainer), asked questions about my fitness background, eating and exercise habits, current weight and fitness goals, and schedule availability.  He recommended a trainer and we scheduled the first gym session.

I admit, I was feeling a bit cocky about what I accomplished on my own over a long, long, winter in the Upper Midwest.  The first couple of personal training sessions involved assessment and refining of goals – setting a baseline.  When I came to the first, real workout session, I came face to face with reality.  Yes, I had accomplished great things on my own.  However, I had gaps in my flexibility and was out of balance with quadricep (dominant) and gluteus muscles.  In the short time I’ve been working with Chris, the personal trainer, I have learned more about body and muscle awareness than I ever did from participating in gymnastics and swimming/diving in my youth.  I have also learned how to keep my now slightly arthritic and spurred right shoulder loose and increase its strength.  With just a couple of personal training sessions and applying those concepts at home, I am already experiencing positive changes.  I’m filling the gaps and learning the skills to maintain more complete body fitness.  Admittedly, personal training services are not inexpensive.  If a person partners with a friend or small group, the services become much more reasonable.

The fitness industry has changed significantly since the 20th century.  For example, I discovered the foam roller.  It’s a very simple concept – use a firm foam cylinder to massage tight muscles.  In the past, I was always very flexible; but, it seems 25 years of sitting at a keyboard has changed that and I am now working to regain posture and flexibility.

When used properly, a person can obtain the equivalent of a deep tissue massage with a foam cylinder.  Below is one example, but there are many more.

The local sports retail chain sells one size and brand for significantly higher cost than online retailers.  Shop around – you will not be sorry.  It’s the greatest thing!

Honk If You Dislike “Working Out”


Being a bit of a grammar and composition rules zealot, I hesitated to use quotation marks in the title, but it seems appropriate for the topic.  I expect the phrase was initially invented to express the action of problem solving.  Why did it have to become attached to physical activity intended to improve health?  The term just makes exercise less attractive – more like work.  I tried researching the origins of using the phrase with regard to exercise and came up empty.  Working out supports mental health – Sure!  Working out improves physical health – Certainly!  Everyone should regularly work out – Absolutely!

I suspect everyone would rather participate in a fun and active event, rather than “work out.”  I have had countless YMCA and health club memberships and rarely used them.  My preference is to select an activity that doesn’t have the sole purpose of raising my heart rate for a specified period of time.  I get bored and have little patience for it, but I do it for the known results.  My current equipment choice is a NordicTrak.  I bought it about 10 years ago from a friend who was using it as a clothes rack.

I learned yoga a few years back and found I genuinely liked it.  It reminded me of gymastics class at the YMCA, where my friend and our sisters dressed in identical purple leotards and tights.  We called ourselves the “Purple People Eaters.”  It was the 1970s, so consider the era.

I realize I have a less than positive attitude about the whole thing and there are plenty of people that get really pumped up about an intense workout.  I admit, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I get off that NordicTrak.  I *think* I am beginning to see increased muscle definition in my upper arms, so I’ll keep on “working out.”

Update January 2012!