When I was in my mid-20s, I got fit for the first time in my life. Fit, as in seriously fit.
I had managed to do absolutely no exercise whatsoever until adulthood. In college, I lifted weights one semester and relished being strong, but had no concept of retaining fitness. One summer, I biked for over an hour every day after work and then for a few hours on the weekends. I didn’t understand anything at all as I was always gasping for air and took that as a sign of not being fit. I was gasping for air because I was competitive (mainly with myself but definitely with any other biker who dared share the road) and so always raced at full capacity. I had no idea that anyone would be winded working that hard.
The next semester of college, I biked in the fall but once the frigid winter temps came, I continued eating the same amount and put on about 20 pounds. It was all very confusing to me at the time. Luckily, the resilience of youth allowed me to lose the weight quite easily and I don’t even recall how I managed.
And then I slid back into being weak and unfit.
After a long and rather dull relationship finally ended, I found myself startling heavy and in need of a new start so I joined a gym, which, to my ex-boyfriends surprise, I attended every day for 1-3 hours for years. I became very, very fit indeed.
After years of going to that gym, finding a new boyfriend who I later married, and moving, I found myself a member of a gym I didn’t love quite as much. Also, it was just a bit inconvenient to get to, and frankly, often being forced to park across the street in a dark lot scared me. So I went less and less and my fitness level became merely good, not outstanding. The habit faded.
We tried. We really did! We both discovered and embraced the Body for Life challenge when our baby was around a year old. My mom says I’ve never looked better. But at the end of those 12 weeks, we walked away from our last workout and our last day of 6 meals and didn’t look back. Thus ensued years of not really even pretending we were the kind of people who worked out.
It was demoralizing. Waistlines increased. Busts and tushes sagged. Energy levels sunk. Simple activities became burdens. Laziness became a deeply entrenched habit. We each made the occasional comeback attempt but nothing stuck.
So it feels great that we are both back at a gym and it’s working for us!
Only, is it?
Yeah, sure, I can see improvements. Not the one I was most concerned about; my belly is still carrying toxic fat and just doesn’t look right. But yeah, much slimmer all around and I see I am getting stronger. My husband, I don’t know. I stopped working out with him a few months ago because I felt he was dragging me down. We were doing our weight workout together and I still like to follow a lot of the principles of Body for Life. I wasn’t doing it to the letter, but I do like the very short rests and pushing hard through the workouts with elevated heart rate and hitting some highs – sort of like interval training. I am convinced that it is important when working out to push and back off a few times. He kept sitting around and zoning out. So yeah, I ditched him for now.
He certainly looks stronger. But his belly is still, um, well large. And he’s a lump. And a grump.
We should be energetic, accomplishing lots with a great attitude, right? And we should both have gorgeous flat tummies.
Today, I tried one of those crazy boot camp kind of classes. I have watched many a Wednesday through the window but knew I couldn’t do it. Today, I decided I could. And so I did, mostly. Yes, sure, I was drenched with sweat and turned purple. My older daughter was quickly advised to not say anything insulting when she saw me. I don’t know why I turn purple for an hour after a hard come-back workout.
Why is it a come-back workout though? I have been a lump? I thought I was really pushing myself. But no. I guess I didn’t really look at it. I need to do some more aerobic crap and get that heart racing. Crap.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I made it through the class! That’s something! I have had to leave classes maybe 15-20 minutes into the class during previous come-backs. This time, I was able to back off and follow my own instincts when I needed and then jump back in. Some idiot instructors push you too far and don’t allow you to trust your own pace. Or they stop everything and come running over if you try to take a break. This dude was cool so I know I’ll be going back. At the start, he said to take as many breaks as you needed. Not that that influenced me, but it was nice to know I wasn’t going to be harassed.
I suppose there could, perhaps, be some validity to the theory that as we get older, it becomes more difficult to see the same results as when we’re younger. I know that when I was 26 and I hit the gym, not even having a clue what I was doing, I was in some good shape by 2-3 months in. By 6 months, I was exceptional, and by 2 years, well…
This has not been like that. And I’ve been researching like mad. All the research I have done tells me that I don’t need to futz around with long, steady cardio, nor do I need to lift for 1-2 hours (which, if I’m honest, I never really did, as there was so much sitting around between sets or chatting). I believe what the experts currently say; that even 3 45 minute workouts a week will do wonders. I also know I am getting a six-pack and that even if it can’t be seen, it’s getting there. I just wish it were quicker!
Maybe this boot camp class is a short cut.