There are few people in my life who can really put me in my place and get away with it. One of them is my friend Kim who I grew up with. She’s the only person who has cut to the chase and told me that my current weight is the biggest she’s ever seen me and that she’s worried. She’s actually told me a few times (
brave crazy girl). And it cuts me to the quick – not because it hurts my feelings, but because she’s right.
Another person who tells it like he means it is my longtime family doctor (I’ll call him Dr. G). As we were discussing my weight issues, Dr. G asked if I was exercising. I explained that the whiplash I suffered from a car accident in January has kept me from swimming, running, yoga, and all the other things I enjoy, as my neck is still healing. Surely he understood that without the ability to do the things I love I couldn’t possibly get in shape. Did he feel bad for me? Nope. Here’s how that conversation went:
Dr. G.: “You can walk, can’t you?”
Me (wondering where this is going): “Ummm…..yeah”
Dr. G.: You can ride a stationary bike, can’t you?”
Me (wishing I’d never tried the sympathy angle): “Uh huh”
Dr. G.: “Well then, I guess you have no excuse for not exercising, do you?”
Me (looking at the floor, mumbling): “I guess not”
I had to admit that it wouldn’t kill me to walk a little and ride the bike. But I had to change the way I approached this exercising business. In the past I have always been able to take a break from working out and then jump back into it with nary a problem, but the last two years have been an exercise in delusion. Between getting older, gaining weight, and spending more time studying than exercising, my ability to bounce back has waned.
At the beginning of this year I started training for a half marathon and convinced myself that my aching Achilles tendons would loosen up after some time. The reality was that I had no business training for anything! When your butt is in the chair more during the day than out of it, the smart thing to do is walk at a relaxed pace until your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues adjust to the new activity. Then, you increase your time/effort no more than 10% per week. The logic behind this is to prevent overuse injuries. I ignored the fact that I weighed more than ever and still saw myself as the fit athlete who can do anything.
In hindsight, my car accident has probably saved me from further injuring myself through exercise. Due to a badly banged up left leg, I am only able to walk continuously for about 20 minutes before my quad starts to ache (it will heal completely in time). This doesn’t do much for me cardiovascularly, but being forced to walk at a slower pace for less time is helping my Achilles to heal. However, this doesn’t mean I’m not benefitting.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for important health benefits, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) OR 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) OR an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). That may seem like a lot, but it also reminds us that we can accomplish this 10 minutes at a time.
Now, I may not be up to those levels yet, but I did exercise three times this week (15 minutes walking/15 minutes on stationary bike + gentle stretching) and I felt good. Moving is good! Feeling like you’re accomplishing something is good! Losing 4.4 pounds this week is good! That’s right, I lost weight! Now, I don’t expect to lose that much each week, as just cutting down on junk food makes a huge difference, but they lowered my daily points from 39 to 35, so as long as I stick to my plan I should see more loss next week. Of course, I made sure I still had those 49 extra points each week to hang on to. I may have had to eat humble pie last week, but this week, I want a slice of Key Lime Pie (but still no whipped cream)!
3/14/12 - 221 pounds
Pounds lost in last week – 4.4