Friday, September 5, 2008

Be my personal trainer!

Ah, September. Back-to-school time. There's a sense of purpose in the air, and I have chosen to harness it in my quest to regain my fitness.

I've always been a reasonably active person, but there are degrees of reasonably active and I've been sliding for a year now. It's completely my own fault, and it all started back in the Spring of 2006. Mr E Man proposed in November 2005, but we decided to buy a house before getting married, and pushed the wedding back to August 2007. This did not stop my friends from pestering me to be taken dress shopping. After a few months, I gave in and agreed to an exploratory expedition to see what was out there.

Predictably, I found the perfect dress on that first shopping trip, more than a year before the actual event. After a long discussion (in the pub) of the pros and cons of buying a dress such a long time before the wedding, we all trooped back to the awesome shop and I ordered my dress, which was a little bit tight, nothing to be worried about, plenty of time.

The dress arrived a few months later. It was no longer just a little bit tight.

Given the choice between less food and more exercise, I've always chosen the latter. I like my food far too much. So I started going to the gym three or four times a week instead of once or twice. I stored the dress at a friend's house and tried it on every couple of months. Not only did it start to fit better, but I was starting to look and feel better. People even commented on it. Everything was awesome.

With a couple of months to go, I realised that I was also going to need to cut all cookies and chips (in both the UK and Canadian senses of the word) from my diet. It was a struggle, but it all paid off on the day. The dress even still fit at our second wedding reception, three weeks and many cervezas after the first. (I took a backup dress with me, just in case. I was NOT going to sacrifice my honeymoon fun). And at least I never went to the extremes endured by a friend who got married a few months before me, and had to spend six months ordering wine spritzers and raw veggie platters at the pub.

Back in Vancouver and starting a new job, I'd lost the motivation symbolised by that damn dress and started to make excuses not to go to the gym. I have now turned this skill into an art form - it's too hot, it's too cold, I might have West Nile virus, there's a paper cut on my finger and I don't want to irritate it. Having pushed myself a bit too hard for the few months before the wedding, I felt I'd deserved a bit of time off for good behaviour. And a cookie or two, obviously.

BUT! (Or, BUTT!). Enough is enough. I need to get my lazy arse back in gear and start exercising more. It's not about weight (I honestly never weigh myself), it's about clothes fitting me better and looking and feeling awesome.

So back to the gym I go! Through trial and error I've determined that the best time for me to go is before work, for no more than 30 minutes at a time. It's too hot, too stinky, and too damn busy after work. In addition the gym is two blocks from my building, and going in the morning means I can stretch at home (depending on how many cats are trying to sit on my head), then have a nice, easy, mostly downhill ride to the gym (just enough exertion to warm me up). This is infinitely preferable to going after work, stretching on those gross mats, and then having to cycle up the sodding hill. My favourite workout is the Quick-Fit Circuit, which alternates machine weights with cardio and takes roughly 20 minutes per round, but I do make myself do some pure cardio too - mostly on the elliptical trainers and rowing machines, with the occasional stairmaster session thrown in. I don't run, I don't do free weights, and I hate classes. I'm aiming for two or three workouts (or equivalent) a week.

And you all get to play too! I've added an exercise log to the top right corner and I'll be faithfully logging all gym visits and other exercise. My daily commute (a total of 12 km each day) is a given, so I won't be adding that, but I will add any extracurricular cycling. If you happen to notice that the log hasn't been updated for a while, please do give me a public kick up the virtual arse to shame me into activity. (If you know me in real life you can give me a public kick up my actual arse).

Either that or you can all chip in for a fabulous dress that is too small for me.

28 comments:

  1. very good idea, I want my clothes to fit too!

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  2. Yeah you can only blame it on the washing machine shrinking all your clothes for so long...

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  3. Well, it's not the washing machine in my case. I'm sure that I obviously must have some thyroid issues!

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  4. in addition to the blood sugar issues....

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  5. Does this mean that our coffee dates will be without treats for awhile? I will miss them, but I suppose I should do the same thing as there is a rather long run that I have to do in ~7 weeks :).

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  6. Don't worry, more exercise + same amount of treats = still get fitter and slimmer without affecting our coffee dates!

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  7. nahh... I know what this means. This is what happened a few weeks ago. Me trying on a dress for a wedding reception (not mine!) two weeks beofre party. All is fine. Kickboxing classes got cancelled for three weeks, running is not possible due to mosquitos and sun. Me try on dress three days before leaving for said wedding. panic attacks. tummy grown. dress snug.

    solution? 150 crunches a day and not too much food. dress ok, me grumpy ;)

    now? crunches and training need to resume otherwise I will not only be a loose tummy flob but more acutly, I get very angry and frustrated (trust me, kicking and boxing a bag is very good for my adrenaline). all good.

    but I don't bike 12 km a day any more. I'll settle for "not gained any weight after 2 years in the south". we all have small goals ;)

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  8. I swear I put on weight just by crossing the border! Canadian food and portions are often more fattening than European equivalents, but even Canadian portions would look small in the US! So not gaining weight after 2 years there would be a huge success!

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  9. Oh, Cath, if you think the Northern states portions are large, you should visit the South and try some steak! Not gaining weight here is quite a challenge.

    I used to swear off running, but had to start that up or else... So I guess I will promise to kick your virtual ass if you promise to kick mine ;)

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  10. My workout buddy moved to her post-doc in May 07. My gym visits
    became less and less frequent until finally, I just completely stopped going or even pretending like it was an option. In an effort to get my ass in gear, I started the "couch potato to 5K" running program about a month and a half ago. Unfortunately I am still more on the couch potato side, so count me in. :)

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  11. cath and sciencegirl: let's kick my ass about moving as well. Today it is actually not too hot so I guess I should get myself out the door running. At least I will go and buy new running shoes now and then maybe take them for a test run... :)

    thanks for the success things. I think it is mainly my only thought of not gaining... since I am completly convinced tht if I didn't think about it I'd be atleast 10 pounds heavier within a month... seriously, everything here is cheese, large and fried. not an easy task if you eat out. Luckily I was used to eating in and veggies are cheap here. Chicken and veggies - my new staple since 2 yrs :)

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  12. XX, I've tried the gym buddy thing, but honestly I seem to do better by myself. Something about chatting too much to want to get out of breath, rather than the other way around!

    Chall, sounds like you have good will power!

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  13. Cath> Fear [of becoming like a huge snow ball] is greater than my will power ;)

    joke aside, it was good looking at your trainer log this weekend. I ended up buying new jogging shoes, new shorts and walking for 2.5 hours yesterday. today, time to try out the running.... :)

    thanks for bringing me into the trainning world again.

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  14. You go girl!

    I think if I stick to my goal of at least two workouts a week, I will also treat myself to some new runners at the end of September. My current ones are about 5 years old, which isn't a huge deal as I don't do any high impact stuff, but it would probably be better for me to get something new! It's good motivation too!

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  15. Cath, can I come live with your for a month or so? My major set back in working out is temperatures in the upper 30's and humidity of over 80%!

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  16. Ugh, that is nasty. Mind you I lose my appetite under those conditions so maybe I'd do OK!

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  17. I consider this as much a kick for you as it is for me - or maybe you have worked out but not written it down?!!?

    [you're still very good you know?! Probably riding your bike to work every day and all]

    (mental note: I need to sign up at a gym so I do elliptical machine. I love them. Especially now when it is getting dark outside...)

    I'm hurting since my kickboxing routine this Saturday but boy, it was good.

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  18. Thanks for the kick! I have indeed been slacking... early last week I wasn't feeling too well, then on Friday I had to go out to UBC early in the morning to get grant signatures, then this week has been all about coming in at 7.30 to work on grants and leaving at 7pm. This morning my boss is giving an early seminar that I can't be late for, and tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment at 9, so it's gonna have to be Friday!

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  19. Well, if you miss out on Friday do you want to come for a run on Saturday? Or a swim? As much as I whine about the workouts, I find I am much more productive if I just make them happen....I think it is because it is impossible to worry about work when I run - I am too busy trying to keep breathing and not fall down. It is like a vacation for my brain!

    You are welcome to join me anytime :)

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  20. You are too funny! I tried to imagine myself working out with you, but just kept seeing me exhausted/collapsing and you getting pissed off!

    Maybe cycling. Maybe.

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  21. I just read that you went for a run last Friday. A perfect description of what running feels like! May I suggest you start out easy with timed intervals - like 1 min running, 1 min walking...and gradually add in 1 more min of running each week? Much less daunting and you usually get to walk before the barf factor kicks in.

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  22. Thanks for the advice - I was hoping you'd comment! By adding a minute each week, do you mean going from 1 min run + 1 min walk to 2 min run + 1 min walk? Or adding 1 min total each time?

    First order of business: get a new battery and strap for my watch!

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  23. The way we did it when I took my 'learn to run' clinic was to add 1 minute of running each week, holding the walk to a single minute. It just seems mentally easier to add short times each week, rather than saying you are going out to run for 30 minutes.

    We still do 10&1's when we go on very long runs - for me this works because a) I can't eat/drink while actually in the process of running (it ends up ON me, not IN me) and b) I CAN run 10 minutes, and dividing up a long run into shorter intervals makes it easier for me, as saying "I am going to run for 3.5 hours" is enough to make me stay in bed.

    Even when I race I hold the intervals (half marathon or longer) and I always pass so many people at the end who initially scoff at the idea of intervals. It doesn't work for everyone, but it is a good way to start if, like me, running is something done out of necessity, not pleasure :).

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  24. The way we did it when I took my 'learn to run' clinic was to add 1 minute of running each week, holding the walk to a single minute. It just seems mentally easier to add short times each week, rather than saying you are going out to run for 30 minutes.

    We still do 10&1's when we go on very long runs - for me this works because a) I can't eat/drink while actually in the process of running (it ends up ON me, not IN me) and b) I CAN run 10 minutes, and dividing up a long run into shorter intervals makes it easier for me, as saying "I am going to run for 3.5 hours" is enough to make me stay in bed.

    Even when I race I hold the intervals (half marathon or longer) and I always pass so many people at the end who initially scoff at the idea of intervals. It doesn't work for everyone, but it is a good way to start if, like me, running is something done out of necessity, not pleasure :).

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  25. Ooooh, darn double comment!

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  26. OK I'm gonna try that! I need a digital watch that beeps every minute or something. Or a lab timer...

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  27. It is much easier if you have a watch that beeps, although at the moment I just check mine constantly. Get one that does intervals, as they are relatively inexpensive - set for 1 min the first week, 2 min interval 1 + 1 min interval 2 for the second week, and so on. It helps!

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