Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

I’ll take it.

April 1, 2011

It was dark during most of my morning walk. As I returned across the parking lot beyond the courtyard, the light percolating up through the grey dawn had gathered enough strength to dispel the ambient anxieties of nighttime walking. I was no longer making my way warily through an indistinct landscape. It was day.

At about that moment when I relaxed into daytime walking mode, I realized that I was glad to be up. I use the word “realized” because the mental state of gladness was secondary to the physical sensation that had just crept over me. My satisfaction at having already finished a walk while most folks were still in bed was a construct that could not have stood except in the space cleared by my body’s mere rejoicing.

The feeling was familiar, but surprising. I used to get it all the time, but during the last few months I’ve been… what’s the word for “lost” that includes gladness? I was glad to be lost. I was glad not to be getting up. I was glad not to be exercising. I was glad to have an excuse.

I slashed my knee open, right down to the joint capsule. Had to have the damned thing in a brace, fully extended, for two weeks. What an excuse, eh? I moped, I started eating, and I didn’t do the upper-body exercises that I could have done. This is what always happens. No matter how much I prepare for it, the same thing always seems to happen. I guess it won’t stop happening until I stop wanting excuses for it to happen.

I saw that truth a few weeks ago, so I finally decided to give OA a try. I’ve gone to two meetings so far. It’s hard, but it’s a good hard. That doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is that I’ve encountered a… person… there. Let’s call this person “X”. I have such a strong negative reaction to X that I don’t think I can keep going back to that particular group.

I won’t go into details, at least not here. Suffice it to say that, after two encounters with X, I don’t think there’s a fight-or-flight response system in my being left untriggered. Picture big red buttons, flashing fire truck lights, nails on chalkboard, cat fur being rubbed the wrong way, and grainy black-and-white films of World War II runways with klaxons moaning their way up to a yowl that makes you plug your ears.

To say that X has personality traits that I abhor is an understatement. I gauge my success as a human being by the degree to which I suppress the voices to which X seems to give full throat. X embodies everything I’ve spent a good fifteen years striving not to be.

But X is not the point right now, and I thank my lucky stars for Grace being around to help me see that. I talked through my feelings with her, and she said that I’m not responding to X, but rather to the memories that X triggers. At first I rejected this notion, because I felt that my emotions came from my anger at seeing X wallow in a behavior pattern that I’ve worked so hard never to indulge in. But then she pointed out that there’s a reason why I vowed never to indulge in those behaviors: at some point I felt trapped by someone who behaved in those same ways. Once she said that, I realized that I’d come to the emotional core of my reaction.

Oh, and then there’s the milk.

See, we ran out of milk yesterday. And it turned out that Grace was scheduled to go to work early today. So, since I intended to get milk for her morning coffee, I wanted see if I could get an early morning walk out of the deal. I set my alarm, and the secondary alarm in the kitchen, for 5:30, hoping against hope that I’d actually follow through. And what do you know? I did!

I don’t know why I got out on a walk this morning. Maybe I’ve simply been away long enough, and I’m ready to stop accepting excuses and come back. Maybe seeing X deepened my resolve to be the person I want to be. Maybe the emotional catharsis of winding my way through my feelings about X released some energy. Maybe it was the milk what done it.

I don’t know what caused it, but it felt good. I’ll take it.

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Up and at ’em.

January 15, 2011
Note the frost on my beard.

Note the frost on my beard.

Well, I got myself out of bed at 5:00 and out on a walk, even though it’s Saturday, and my phone told me the temperature was 12° F.

So I got that goin’ for me…

Which is nice.

Back to the calisthenics

January 5, 2011
Me after my workout

Me after my workout

Here’s the calisthenics routine I did this evening. Not bad, considering that it was the first time in a month or so.

Jump Ropes Bench Dips Jumping Jacks Pushups
Round 1 200 50 200 10
Round 2 200 40 200 8
Round 3 200 36
TOTAL 600 126 400 18

Walk in the Marshlands Conservancy

January 3, 2011
Getting back into taking long walks with a loaded pack

Getting back into taking long walks with a loaded pack

Well, I’ve walked a good eight miles today. I strapped on my pack and my camera bag, walked the three miles to the Marshlands Conservancy, hiked about half of the trails, and returned home. The walk along Route 1 was far less pleasant than it was before the snow, because there are many uncleared sections of sidewalk that force me to make detours into the road. My back muscles are a bit achy; clearly I’ve become less accustomed to the pack. Time to get back into the habit of walking with it every day.

Turning it around

January 2, 2011

My original title of this post was “Well, that was pathetic.” But I’m figuring out a different way of looking at it.

I exercised twice today. I got out for a walk earlier, and I did a workout just now. Unfortunately the workout, outlined below, was a pale shadow of the ones I was doing a few months ago. It’s difficult not to look at the numbers, feel the weakness and heaviness of my body, and think “Damn. That sucked.”

But I just realized that there is a middle road between beating myself up and ignoring what’s in front of my nose. I can look at what’s in front of my nose, evaluate it clinically, and use it to modify my behavior.

OK, so what’s in front of my nose? Well, my belly is bigger than it was in October. My pants are a lot tighter. There’s more jiggling going on when I run. I can see in the mirror how much I’ve backslid. My legs don’t have the stamina they had. And the exercises I’m capable of doing have decreased dramatically, both in number of reps and number of sets.

All right. What benefit did I get from that month off the wagon? Well, lemme tell ya, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Don’t be fooled by all my talk about how sad I was and yadda yadda yadda. Sure I was sad. Sure I was in pain. But damn, I love to eat. I loved eating those bins of oatmeal raisin cookies from Stop & Shop. I loved eating all those omelets with sausage and buttered bagels. And drinking all that beer? Absolutely glorious. Think of my palate as an art student. Drinking all those beers was like a month at the Louvre.

Now. Weigh the cost against the benefits. Was it worth it?

Interesting. I just realized that, before tonight, I was weighing the pleasure of eating against how bad I felt about myself for eating. But now I’m taking the bad feelings out of the equation, because I’m operating on the assumption that they aren’t useful. So now I’m weighing the emotional benefits of eating against its deleterious effects on my body.

No. No, I don’t think it was worth it.

So now I have a fresh and clinical awareness that the costs of my addiction outweigh the benefits. But that doesn’t dismiss the addiction. I can still fall off the wagon. How do I turn the knowledge into a safeguard against the harmful behavior?

Stay tuned.

Dips Pullups Stairs
Round 1 2 1 100
Round 2 1 1 100
Round 3 1 1 100
TOTAL 4 3 300

Walk in the Marshlands Conservancy

January 1, 2011

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Well, we got a bit of exercise by walking around the Marshlands Conservancy. We also had the pleasure of watching the birds at the feeder behind the building there. We saw chickadees, tufted titmice, a bluejay, and two different species of woodpeckers. One of those last was a Pileated woodpecker — the first one I’ve seen in years.

First walk in the Marshlands Conservancy

November 18, 2010
From First walk in the Marshlands Conservancy – November 18, 2010
From First walk in the Marshlands Conservancy – November 18, 2010

This morning’s walk covered a good eight eight miles: The walk from my apartment to the Marshlands Conservancy is about three miles, and I’m sure I walked for at least two miles while exploring its trails. It’s quite a pleasant piece of property, and I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time walking its beaches, woods and meadows.

The bar where I didn’t get a beer

November 17, 2010
Duck Inn

Duck Inn

During my afternoon walk, I looked through the window of the Duck Inn in Mamaroneck, and was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar tap handle in the shape of a goose’s head and neck. They had Goose Island beer on tap! I’m used to seeing it in Chicago, but not around here.

On the way back, I went in to see what else they had on tap. I was disappointed to find that the goose handle had a “Stella Artois” label. They were just using the Goose Island tap to match the theme of the bar.

Oh well. The bottled beers available from Goose Island aren’t among my favorites anyway; my pleasure stemmed more from seeing a craft brew from Chicago in Mamaroneck than from any actual fondness. But all of this is beside the point: even if they had been pouring Goose Island, I wouldn’t have had any. I’m resolved not to have any beer until I reach my next weight goal, so today I was never going to do anything but window shop.

Second walk of the day

November 17, 2010
Sunset over Route 1

Sunset over Route 1

Finally. I woke up this morning feeling markedly better: my sinus and chest congestion had decreased for the first time since last week. I got out on my standard walk around the golf course, which was made more enjoyable than expected by the many leaves turning yellow and red. I must bring my camera tomorrow.

Wanting to push myself, as well as burn some calories, I made a point to take a second walk in the afternoon. I’d found the “Marshland Conservancy” on Google Maps, and expected to be able to find it by walking along Route 1. Unfortunately this didn’t work; apparently it’s only accessible from one of the side roads.

Anyway, I had a pleasant five-mile walk, found a farm stand with excellent local cider, and found a beverage center that has a wine and beer tasting this Saturday. Oh, and I saw a lovely sunset! Believe me, the picture doesn’t begin to do justice to the electric, hypersaturated pink and blue swaths decorating the horizon.

Hold steady

November 12, 2010
Antibiotic and chest decongestant

Antibiotic and chest decongestant

I’ve been very sick this week. Until Wednesday I was focusing on fighting off the sickness, and between Wednesday and today I was focusing on diagnosing and treating it. This morning I went to the Minute Clinic at CVS, where the Nurse Practitioner diagnosed me with an upper respiratory infection and a bilateral ear infection. Since then I’ve started taking amoxicillin, Mucinex and pain-relieving ear drops, in addition to the frequent doses of cold medicine I’ve already been taking.

I’m feeling a bit better but I’m also feeling apprehensive, and a wee bit sorry for myself. I remember well my usual reaction to a ten-day course of antibiotics.

Days 1-5 “Hey, this is barely affecting me at all. I’m awesome!”
Day 6: Ugh. Can’t. Move.
Days 7-10+: Moping about and feeling useless.

I’ve been thinking not only of my past reactions to antibiotics, but of my past reactions to being sick. Too often during the last several years, I’ve found myself feeling sad and frustrated about not being able to exercise, and reacting to this in the worst possible way: by spiraling down into a hole of depression and overeating.

I can’t let that happen again.

Today I got a strong urge to go out for “comfort food” to assuage my misery. I narrowly avoided this pitfall by reminding myself that my eat-whatever-I-want day is tomorrow. After tomorrow, and especially when the antibiotics start playing merry hob with my system, it’s going to be much more difficult. I have to stay focused. I can’t go off the rails again.