Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Well, I made it. I walked away from the piles of laundry and dust bunnies that were calling to me, urging to me to stay home and interact with them. I put on the work out clothes and headed to the gym.
It's been about five days since I've been there. Not a good way to stick to a fitness plan. But every day is a chance to start again, right?
It was bitterly cold. The thermometer says 12, and I would guess the wind chill would be much lower. There was a biting wind as I skated across the parking lot. Finding a spot to park was tricky. There are huge snow banks everywhere, from our endless snow storms, and they take up half the parking lot spaces. The spots that are left are used inefficiently, as most people seem to be unable to park in a straight row unless there are little painted lines to show them where to go.
I found a spot a long way from the door and stepped out onto a sheet of ice. Ice is one of the few things that truly scares me. I am not a well balanced person. I'm not nimble. I have sketchy balancing skills when the parking lot is perfectly dry. Add a sheet of unpredictable ice and my heart rate literally increases.
Because my metal foot is set for the exact height of my tennis shoe, wearing snow boots is not a good option for me. I would have traction if I changed into boots, but then be fighting my leg with every step. I'd rather be in control of my leg and deal with the lack of traction.
So I literally baby stepped, teeny tiny steps, cautiously and carefully, for the entire 50 yards of parking lot I had to cross. By the time I got to the door I felt like I'd already done my work out for the day.
But the blessing of working so hard to get to the gym...fighting the urge to stay home and get caught up, bracing against a bitter wind when you walk out the door, skating across a sea of danger...is that, once you're there, you feel like you'd better make it worth the effort.
So today I got brave and started doing the weights before I rode the bike.
I've been meaning to put the weights in my routine. I do some minor lifting at home, with some free weights, but I really need to start doing the full circuit at the gym. My sister, Terry, keeps reminding me that having more muscle mass revs up metabolism. I'm all over that idea. I know it will also make me walk better, to have stronger leg muscles. There are more than enough reasons to start lifting weights again.
I knew I'd have to do them before I rode the bike, for two reasons. One, I'm exhausted after the bike and totally out of energy. And two, my leg is full of sweat when I'm done with the bike and it's a pain to go into the locker room to dump the sweat out.
But here's my issue with starting the weights...I've lifted weights in several gyms. But every gym is different and I don't like that feeling of not knowing how to work a machine. And of course I'm too chicken to go ask for help. I feel like since I know how to use most of them, I'd be embarrassed to have the staff explain them all to me. I know, I know. It's stupid. And I have every intention of getting past my irrationality and asking for help the next time I'm there.
I had my first experience with weight lifting when I took a unit for college P.E. When you've got a bum foot that you're pretty successful at hiding, there are a very limited number of P.E. classes you can sign up for. Weight lifting seemed like an easy way to keep my deformed foot hidden. And I found that I loved it. I liked feeling strong. I didn't become Schwarzenegger that semester, but I did walk around a lot more fit. (side note: who knew that Schwarzenegger was in spell check??)
Then, through the years, we were members of the YMCA a few times. When three of my kids were in elementary school I put baby Sam in the Y child care room and rode a bike almost every week day. In Utah, right after my surgery, I joined a gym and spent long hours there, lifting weights and riding, until I finally claimed my new mobility. And since we've lived in New York, I've spent some hours at our local YMCA, riding and lifting, and sometimes even rowing.
But then the Y raised their family rates, and I was not able to justify the cost, when Meredith and I were really the only ones using the facility. So we canceled our membership and she and I joined the new gym around the corner, for a tiny fraction of what we had been paying. But with a new gym came new equipment.
It's all very similar, but I had finally learned all the ones at the Y and now I have new stuff to figure out. It's why I've not started lifting weights sooner. I've been at this gym for almost a year and I'm just now forcing myself to figure it out.
So today I bravely walked over to the equipment. I did the four machines I knew how to do. One of them I figured out because a guy had gone before me and once he sat down on it, I remembered how to use it. Then I made my way over to my familiar bike and jumped on. I'm 100% at home on the bike. Set my pedal straps, adjust the seat height, and I'm ready to ride.
I tried a new thing on the bike today too. I'd read that interval training helps with fat burning. So I did as the Runner's World article suggested (yes, I read Runners World, even though I don't know how to run, it motivates me to see people in such great shape!) With my hard core work-out songs going in the ipod, I rode hard for one full minute, then rode a normal pace for three minutes. I kept that pattern up for a half an hour, then rode at regular pace for 20 more minutes.
I liked it. I didn't mind pushing myself hard when I knew it was just for one minute. Then I felt like I was 'resting', when I got to ride at a regular pace for three whole minutes. I really felt the difference when I got off the bike, and it made the time go much faster. I think I'll try that again.
So now I'm ready to be committed again. No more putting it off. The work out today felt great. Even as I skated across the parking lot, back to the car, I knew it was worth it. The next time I go I'll be ready to ask for some instruction, so I can use all the weight machines that will help me reach my fitness goals. I'll give myself the pep talk that my health is worth pushing my comfort level a bit. No one cares that I have to ask how to use a machine. No one. Time to grow up and stop living in junior high.
Now I'm home again. The laundry is still there. It waited patiently for my return. The dust bunnies are still tucked in the corners of our wooden stairs, twitching their noses at me. And whaddaya know, my two teenage sons just barreled in the back door. Time to get back to real life.
My new, fit life.