Weighty Matters

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When You Think You Can’t, You Can!

This morning at 7:25 a.m., I was at the half-way mark of the rowing class and was fairly sure that I wouldn’t make it to the end.  Today’s workout called for 34 minutes of 200 meter intervals with a :10 rest between intervals.  I was doing my best to row 200 meters in a minute’s time but was falling short by a couple of seconds – hitting the 1:04-1:06 range instead.  Each of us in the class wore a sensor that constantly monitored our heart rates and showed us on the wall monitor if we were in the preferred zone of around 80-89% of our maximum heart rate.  The sensor also estimates our calorie burn, based on our current weight, gender and age.

I was doing pretty good at maintaining my heart rate in that golden zone, but as the minutes went on, I started to think more and more that I’d never make it through. During each rest, I stretched my legs in the machine and jiggled my left foot, which seems to want to go numb on me in the middle of the workout.  I gulped water and wiped the rivulets of sweat off of my face, then picked up the handles again to resume rowing when the clock counted down to zero.

Call me determined or stubborn or crazy, but I refused to quit on the workout.  Even if I was blowing out air like a whale, and soaked with sweat, I was not going to give up.  About :20 seconds into each interval, when I thought I couldn’t keep going, I mentally cried bulls**t on myself and powered through.  I’d make myself work harder, trying to get my time down to a minute per 200 meters.

When we hit the ten-minutes-to-go mark, the trainer started giving us regular updates.  “Ten minutes left.  Keep it up.”  “Only seven minutes to go.  You can do it.”  “Five minutes.”  “Three minutes.”  “Try to finish an interval before the time runs out and start another.”

I finished an interval about :20 before the workout ended so I launched into another one, determined to give it my all.  For that last strong effort I hit the red zone with my heart rate at greater than 90% capacity.  “Finish strong!” encouraged our trainer.  I did.  200 meters in :59!  My best time for the whole workout.

So much for thinking I couldn’t.  While others in the class might have done more intervals than I did, I’m not in competition with them.  For one thing, I am often in class with women who are significantly younger than I am and/or who have been at this rowing thing for a lot longer.  When all is said and done, I’m only measuring up to myself and how much effort I put into the workout.  That said, while we recovered and let our heartbeats gradually slow from the peak performance, the trainer ran us through the class’s collective stats.

I was the Zone Master for the class, which meant that I maintained the desired heart rate zone for the most consistent amount of time!  It made me smile.

After wiping down my rowing machine, returning the sensor to the trainer, and guzzling the rest of my water, I made my way out to my car.  I looked down at my hand and realized that I’d worked up a blister at the base of my ring finger.  (Note to self, don’t wear a ring to rowing class and find your workout gloves.)  It doesn’t hurt much and I kind of consider it a mark of accomplishment.  It’s also a great reminder to me throughout the day.  If at any time I’m tempted to overeat or veer wildly off my food plan, I only need to look at that little red blister and remember how hard I worked this morning.

I’m going to take today’s experience with me into the next class and every one after that.  When I think I can’t finish, I know now that I can.  Not only that, with determination, I can finish strong.

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Apathy and Laziness

A long time ago, I shared the acronym H.A.L.T. It’s a caution that reminds me not to get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. (We 12 Steppers are big on helpful acronyms!) For the last couple of days, along with the uncharacteristic case of the blues, I’ve noticed that I’ve been particularly shoulder-shrugging-whatever about my efforts and downright lazy about my exercise.

Today I opted to amend the acronym to replace angry and lonely with apathy and laziness. The good news is that I had the realization while I was finally up off my ass, out of my chair, and out for a walk with Nat and Pyxi. I’ll bottom line it for myself. I have work to do. Always. The effort to be a healthy weight and create a life of health and fitness has not ended, nor will it. Ever. This is not something I can do for awhile, get where I want and then stop. It’s my life. I want it and I embrace it.

There are various theories about how long it takes to change a habit and forge a new one. I don’t think there is ever a set number of days or months. It’s more like it takes forever because the commitment to the new lifestyle habits has to be made every single day going forward. Diseased thinking and old habits that are comfortable even when they are ultimately destructive do not magically evaporate. They’re always around, lurking on the fringes, looking for an opening to reinsert into my life. Apathy and laziness are cracks in my foundation, the little openings through which the crappy behaviors can seep. If I don’t seal up those cracks and reinforce my core determination and the new foundation I’ve been building, enough disease can build up and completely screw me up.

I’ve talked before about determination and the need for vigilance. This post is another reminder to myself. Recovery is not an event. It’s a process.

I feel better today. Just having gotten up and gone out for a longer walk than I’ve done since the beginning of the week helps my mindset. It’s a counter-measure to the laziness. Thinking about this, writing about it, and connecting with my determination beats back the apathy. I have the tools. I know what to do. I’m putting on the brakes, calling H.A.L.T. and continuing my journey.

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