liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[personal profile] liv
Well, thanks to everyone who was so encouraging when I was trying to dip my toes into exercise, and especially thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mathcathy, I've actually managed to keep up a programme of regular exercise for 6 months.

I've pretty much kept up a consistent two gym sessions a week, and I've fitted in a third more often than I've missed a session. I cancelled once because I was sick; not very sick, but I had a really bad cough, and I just couldn't face making my lungs work hard at that point. Pretty much the only reason I've done this well is [livejournal.com profile] mathcathy's support; I have to get out of bed, get dressed and be ready to leave by 6:15 am because I know that she's got up early herself to be there to pick me up. And even for the evening sessions, when we travel to the gym separately so I wouldn't exactly be letting her down if I cancelled, the embarrassment of having to call [livejournal.com profile] mathcathy and say I don't feel like exercising is always greater than the activation energy of getting myself out of the house to do something I don't find particularly enjoyable. So it's entirely thanks to her that I actually do go to the gym instead of staying at home playing on the internet, and I keep doing this every week.

Today (note the part where I voluntarily spent Saturday morning at the gym!) my workout suddenly fell together. It wasn't easy, I was breathing hard and my heart was beating fast and I was sweating, but I didn't have to force myself through discomfort to complete it. That's 15 minutes on the X-trainer with variable difficulty, and 15 minutes power walking on the treadmill with a constant uphill slope and no holding on to the handles. And double sets of ten reps of all my weights and resistance exercises. I don't know if that's a permanent breakthrough or if it's just some combination of the stage of my hormonal cycle, clear air and weather conditions, and doing the exercise mid-morning rather than very early when I'm still half asleep or at the end of a full day. Or maybe I really am getting fitter, I don't know.

Other outcomes: I still don't enjoy the cardiovascular stuff, but it's getting less unpleasant now that I know I can do some sustained exercise without feeling as if my lungs are exploding. Actually I'm finding my leg muscles get tired sooner than my lungs do, calves and ankles with the treadmill and thighs with the X-trainer, which I'm quite pleased about. I manage to improve my feelings about it from negative to neutral by thinking about it in scoring terms (I'm using ChoreWars to record my exercise, not because it's a really good fit for doing that, but because I find the rewards motivating even when they're purely virtual.) I'd almost classify it as a problem that I enjoy the resistance stuff a lot more than the CV stuff. I think it's that the weights is more varied, but also that I find the sensation of pushing my muscles to their limits much less unpleasant than the sensation of continuing to move briskly when I'm already out of breath. Of course, doing lots of resistance training is not doing my heart any harm, but it's very tempting to skip the proper intense CV exercise and do weights instead, which would undermine my good resolutions.

I don't get high from exercise, but on good days I do feel relaxed and good in my skin, and I think it's probably helping my baseline mood. I expect that's probably not unrelated to endorphins, and also just generally moving around and feeling proud that my body can do things it couldn't before. But I must admit I don't in the slightest miss exercise when I'm travelling and don't manage to get to the gym for a week or so.

My weight hasn't changed at all. I didn't expect it would, but being a good little scientist I verified this rather than just assuming it. I'm still obese by the BMI charts, and my clothes still fit the same as before. If I'd been planning on losing weight I would have done things differently anyway, but I'm just recording things. I think my blood pressure may be slightly lower; I haven't been tracking it very carefully, but it always used to read "high end of normal" or "slightly high but nothing to worry about", whereas this week it was "perfect". Not definitive, but it does give me a bit of hope that if my BP ever does start to creep up I'll be in the third of the population who can lower BP by doing exercise.

I do feel fitter; I've been to ceilidhs and found them more enjoyable than I did in the past because I didn't get so exhausted so easily. I'm generally less inclined to avoid physical things, whether it's running for a bus or weeding the garden. So I think the next stage of the plan should be to see if I can use this fitness to do exercise I'll actually enjoy for its own sake, hillwalking and dancing and stuff.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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