March 1st, 2012
The Long And Painful Road Part 1 of 2
I am an unfit individual
There I said it. Apparently the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have a problem. I have kind of known this for a while but not really done much about it. Before now I have been able to function fairly well and get by but it is now undoubtedly having a noticeable affect on me, limiting what I can and cannot do. Even subtle things like my ability to hit a tennis ball has suffered as my tired brain is not as reactive and I make more mistakes.
Years ago it was easier. I didn’t need the discipline of training, I had a natural level of performance that was good enough. I knew it wasn’t true, even then, and looking back I changed my behaviours to suit my laziness but I still got results so what was the problem? Right?
So what am I going to do about it? Well I have made a promise to myself to address it. I have come to the conclusion that if I don’t, then things are only going to get progressively worse. And this cannot be a one-off effort. It had to be something I can sustain; it has to become part of my lifestyle; my new mindset.
But it’s hard! In fact, right now it seems impossible. I am so far away from where I want/need to be. I have a flabby belly, my knees hurt, I don’t feel I have the energy to go for a run, I don’t have the TIME to go for a run.
So I try and imagine what I want the future to be. It’s not about losing weight - I haven’t haven’t measured that for years so have no idea of that metric. What’s my goal then, if it’s not to lose weight? Perhaps it’s to be able to fit in my 34” jeans again or perhaps it’s to be able to go on a cycle ride with the kids without having to stop half way or perhaps it’s to be able to run the London Marathon. Well, let’s not go too far!
Targets are important to me. They always have been. I like to achieve things. Mark them as complete. I certainly don’t like the alternative picture of being the Dad who’s seen as a heart attack risk because I can’t even kick a ball around in the garden.
So I started. I have been informed of some of my limitations - I can’t go on road runs due to my knees - so I dusted off the exercise bike. I put it on a low setting and set the clock for 45 minutes. I couldn’t do it. I managed 21 minutes before I hit a wall. I rested and did another 12 minutes but then had to give up. That was disheartening! It was also boring.
The next time I made sure I had a little fun at the same time. I watched TV while I was on the bike. I had the double benefit of being able to get through some of my DVD’s that have been sitting around for a while and actually linked what was a slightly tortuous process to the concept of fun. It took my mind off the drudgery of turning the pedals. I lasted the whole 45 minutes (the program lasted 43 minutes) albeit at a slightly slower pace. I have also started tennis lessons - not to become good at tennis per se but because it’s a more fun way of getting exercise - plus I get a coach to help me.
How can I ensure I keep doing this? It’s easy to do it once or twice and then slip back into the old routine. I know I can’t do this on my own. I could have hired a personal trainer, or joined a gym but, to me, the prospect of my kids knowing I didn’t do what I said I would do is a motivator for me. I have published my schedule - made it visible. I have committed to a rhythm of 3 times a week - Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday - and posted it in the kitchen. My kids know about it, my wife knows about it. If I miss a session, they will know.
How will I know I am improving? Like I said I am not measuring weight so I need some other metric. I could get scientific and measure something like BMI, blood pressure or cholesterol or something. But that doesn’t mean anything to me - they are just numbers. For now, I am just going to see if I can do more in my timebox of 45 minutes. Can I increase the load, or the distance travelled (the bike tells me this, somehow) in 45 minutes? Perhaps in the future I will change this to “how quickly can I do 15km”, who knows?
I also know I need to look at other things, such as the food I eat, what I drink and other aspects of my lifestyle but one step at a time...And I always have that pair of jeans...
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