Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dr. Thinchuck or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Band

This is a hard thing for me to admit, especially in a public forum like this, but here goes:

I can no longer think of myself as a fat, out of shape tub of crap.

I'm probably more surprised than anyone. I've always been a non-active nerd. I never played sports in school, I never really paid much attention to what I ate, and I certainly never exercised regularly. Sure, I tried a few times over the years, but I always found some excuse to stop after a few weeks of working out. So how the hell did this happen?

It started last fall. Due to a bunch of different factors, I started a period of "accidental, bad weight loss." The exact reasons aren't worth getting into at this point, but I found that over a two month period or so, I dropped from about 210 lbs down to around 185.

Don't light into me about that. I'm totally aware that it's unhealthy, and I stopped dropping weight like that in January. What was important was that for the first time in forever, I saw an actual, visible difference in how I looked. This convinced me that if I could do that accidentally, I could probably get similar results if I actually put in some effort. I was also in a self improvement kick at the time. The result was that I bought a copy of one of those fitness video game programs (EA Sports Active 2, to be precise).

A few things I've learned about myself and exercising. I've never done well when I have to go somewhere to exercise. I also don't do well if I feel like exercise is replacing part of my regular routine. And I don't like having to research workouts and figure out what to do on my own.

What the game did was make it so I could work out in my living room, and had a built in set of exercise programs, so it functions like a workout video, but with variety. The last, vital bit was that I decided to start waking up earlier to do my workout so that my regular morning routine would remain mostly unchanged. I'd just be sweatier.

In mid January, I started using the game. The first thing it asks is whether you want to do a 3 week cardio program, or a 9 week full body program. I hesitated, and almost picked the 3 week one, figuring I was more likely to finish 3 weeks instead of 9. But I found myself saying "screw it, let's DO THIS!", and I picked the 9 week program. It then told me to pick four days for scheduled workouts, and then told me to get off my ass and start moving.

Move I did. I was pretty well beat after the first workout. But I showed up for the second, getting up at 6:15am to do it. And the third, and the fourth. I quickly learned that the fourth workout of the week was always the Workout from Hell. It was a brutal combination of exercises that focused almost entirely on my legs that was frankly pretty frustrating by the end. Still, I showed up, cursing at my TV, but there and sweating.

Then, in mid-February, I got laid off. Now I had tons of time on my hands. I shocked myself by thinking "Well, now there's no reason I shouldn't do a workout every day." So I did. At the advice of a personal trainer friend, I saved a custom built workout that was designed to demolish my triceps and shoulders, and did that on my "off days" from the program.

You know what happened? I got into a habit. I actually managed to get past that wall of "oh God, this sucks and I just want to die, what if I just slashed my resistance band into itty bitty pieces that'd sure show it uppity resistance band" and into "oh God, this sucks, but there's only 20 minutes left, and I'll feel fine afterward" and finally into "man, I wish my arms felt more tired right now". I also started to notice that I was able to see results. I lost another few inches off my waist, and started to see a bit of definition. Holy crap. The most surprising thing about that though, was that my immediate reaction was to try and figure out how I could step things up to see more results.

So yesterday marked the last workout in my 9 week program. I actually managed to work out at least 4 times a week for 9 weeks straight. You know what I did to celebrate? Went out and bought some 10lb weights, and at the recommendation of a Trusted Advisor, ordered some protein shake mix. I'm not ready to call myself "in shape", but I'm not far off, and I fully plan on getting there.

Since numbers are fun, here's some stats according to the game (I can't vouch for their accuracy, but they seem reasonable):

Workouts completed: 54
Time spent exercising: 28 hours, 19 minutes
Calories burned: 10362
Distance run (in my living room, so boring): 35.92 miles
Average heart rate: 139
Current weight: 173

So there it is. I'm lighter than I've been in years, and definitely in better shape than I've ever been. I'm being conscious of what I'm eating. I'm stepping up my existing workout program, and am going to start running when the weather warms up. I may actually not be embarrassed to be seen in my bathing suit this summer. I feel pretty okay too.

Basically, this is fucking weird.

1 comment:

Gaby said...

That's awesome!