Thursday, January 27, 2011

The signs lately have been pointing to increased episodes of exercise for me, despite my mildly aching knees, the onset of king cake season and the sudden proliferation of mini king cakes around town.  I'm now in the gym at least four times a week, and it's not as soul-sucking an experience as I thought it was going to be.

This recent post by author Dave Cullen even puts the whole exercise resolution in a new light for me.  I am finding machines I like and am ready to dive into some classes, which are indeed key, but there's more going on when you go to a gym to work out:
Last January, I complained on my facebook page about all the resolutionaries making it tough to get a locker, parking space or workout bench at my gym.
A lot of people chimed in to second my frustration, and then came some push-back, from friends making a new go of it. They could use a little encouragement, they said. The sniping felt nasty.
Point taken. My apologies again.
And this year, a little help, hopefully. 
First, it helps to understand the frustration, which is widespread, and real. Here's why:
Most gymrats are actually happy to see new faces. Everybody starts somewhere. It's actually uplifting to see someone arrive looking and feeling bad, and watch them pull themselves together over the course of the next several months. Often, you can see their whole attitude and posture change.
But that's not what happens in January. A zillion people make New Years resolutions. Every gym sees a huge membership spike. Almost none of the newcomers are visible by February.
It clogs the gyms, frustrates everyone, helps no one.
I'm seeing the difficulties in getting parking and in hopping on my favorite machines firsthand, and yes, it's annoying, but I kick-started things in early December.  I saw some friends of mine starting there as well, and they're still in it, which helps me continue and keeps me in the realistic frame of mind that my waist isn't going to return overnight.  These words help as well:
Your goal is to work out for at least six months, or a year, or preferably indefinitely, right? (How much did you just pay for? Probably at least a one-year membership.)
So you've got a lot of time there. If you look back at the first year next January, will three killer workouts the first week have made any discernible difference in your results?
I understand the eagerness to get there quickly, and to really turn it on and make this new plan work by giving it everything you've got. But that nearly always backfires. You've got the drive and energy while you are at the gym, but you haven't considered the sluggish days at work afterward.
And if you've got beach season in mind as a goal for a better body, you've got five months. You can make a hell of a change in that time. (And it's a good goal. Visualizing a payoff helps.)
Drop the weight and the reps for a couple weeks. Ease into it. Enjoy it a little. If you hate an exercise, forget it for awhile. Add it back a month or two from now once you've got some momentum behind you. Or more likely, you'll discover an alternative.
That's really the whole freaking secret to why most people at your gym in March, June and September are still there. Because we actually come to like the gym. Or at least not dislike it.
So yeah, initially, I took it slow and started in on the exercycles and the rowing machine. I love 'em both, but my knees can't take them.  Glucosamine is helping there, as is work on the elliptical and then walking it off on the treadmill, but I am ready for a change.  I don't think I'll be completely giving up the machines, though, as I'm catching up on a lot of reading and a good amount of TV - as well as some people's TV preferences and commentary on what they see...

  • If I come in around 2 PM, the old guys are there on the exercycles pedaling away like they're gonna win the Tour de France at their advanced ages and they insist on having Fox News on. Once the last of those fellas finally left, I switched the tube to The Bernie Mac Show for relief, with some personal trainers nearby commiserating.
  • I try to avoid being in at 10 AM because then I get treated to the trainwreck that is Hoda and Kathie Lee on the Today show.  Their "best of the ambush makeovers" happened to highlight all the women they plucked out of the Rockefeller Center crowds that were made over to look like Hoda and Kathie Lee clones.  I think Kathie Lee is starting to take over Hoda's brain, too, as I'm noticing fewer instances where Hoda gives her co-host that look - the one that says this dizzy broad is going to get it from me if there is one more dumbass comment coming out of her pie hole.  On the other hand, I did notice the two of them sipping some champagne-based beverages out of tall glasses at the beginning of one of their shows, so perhaps that's Hoda's influence.
  • Sunday mornings are fun.  Sunday before last, I switched the tube to the Travel Channel and tortured everybody with some No Reservations and some Andrew Zimmern right after Anthony Bourdain's jaunt through New Orleans.  I then encountered The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on the tube this past Sunday and pictured all the exercyclers biking like hell away from all the Orcs.
  • I finally found out one late morning what happened to Wayne Brady.  I'm waiting for some more contestants from the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? to end up hosting more game shows.  I foresee a renaissance in game show bloopers if that keeps up.
So hey, if the overall entertainment value continues to give as I'm losing some pounds, I'll certainly be a tad lighter in more than just overall weight once our trip to Hawaii comes 'round in early June, and this whole experience of working out will indeed have reaped many rewards.

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