Sunday, March 14, 2010

The changes I have made...exercise

This was supposed to be the hard part, this was supposed to be where I struggled. Not for a moment would I have predicted I would be upset when told to take a day off from exercising or that I would be worried about burning too many calories. Yet both of those have come to be. Exercising is not only something I enjoy, but in full disclosure something that could easily become an addiction for me. Even if at times I don't want to go do it before I leave for the gym, by the time I get there I am excited to be starting, I love it while I am doing it and I feel so amazing afterwards.

This is definitely not how I have been my whole life. With the exception of one period after I was diagnosed with PTC where I was actively trying to deal with my weight, I have not been physically active most of my life. I did very little exercise, and after the nerve damage that dropped to nearly nothing. If anything I would find ways to avoid having to walk far, lift much or do anything physical.

That has radically changed in the last 3 months, now I am working out at least 45 minutes a day, at least 6 days a week. I had been at 7 but we recently added a "recuperation day" back into my schedule. My exercise is a combination of swimming, resistance/strength and cardio.

Swimming - For as long as I can remember I have loved the water. It is the place where I feel most in control of my body and where I don't feel my weight handicaps me. From my youngest memories of swimming lessons at Dale's Bridge, to the pool in our backyard to the pool now. Swimming relaxes me and I always feel afterwards that I have worked my entire body. Its my "happy place" when it comes to exercise. Recently I am trying not to use it as my primary exercise, as you burn less fat in the pool, but often have it as my second workout of the day.

Resistence/strength training - typically I am doing this 3 days a week, most often working with Gui for an hour each day. This is the most difficult and frustrating of all my work outs for me. There is a lot I am asked to do that I feel like I should be able to do better than I do. Better meaning faster, longer, stronger, heavier, yet despite giving it 200% it doesn't often happen the way I would like it to. Not only do I struggle with the nerve damage during this training, but also my insecurities and fears.  A lot of times I am not sure if whether my limitations are from above my neck or below! For as hard as I have to struggle some days to barely get through the exercises (or even come close), on the days I get it right, the feeling afterwards of having pushed my body and my courage is worth every second of the pain and struggle. This is the piece of the puzzle I was missing in the past, and think many people who don't work with a trainer disregard. I used to think this was the part of the puzzle you added after you had gotten fit, I now see it is key to getting fit.

Cardio - the other three days of the week are cardio, most typically the treadmill. These are my least favorite workouts and the ones that take the most mental energy to stick with. I don't mind the physical part of the treadmill, I know it is doing its job. I just find it BORING beyond words. I wear an ipod, sometimes I read, but it is still a mind game not to quit early. Some days that means covering the time and not watching each minute go by, other days it means doing intervals and changing the speed or incline every couple minutes just to break it up.

The big keys I have learned to coordinating these all are: balanced proportions, changing it up regularly so that you are working different muscles and different focuses and that any one part alone wont get the job done.

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