Jun 5, 2006

The Exercise Mythos

I don't know why I thought working with a trainer would be different, why, this time, exercise would be all that it's cracked up to be. It's been 2 months now of doing an hour + of strength training 3x/week with a spare 40 minute cardio session thrown in once or twice a week.
Let's deal with the myths one at a time, shall we?

Ein... exercise gets easier as you go along. I'm never quite sure whether they mean that the exercises themselves will get easier or whether making yourself do it will get easier or both but no matter! Neither is easier. It still is miserable and hard and sweaty and pretty much the nastiest thing I have to face, including the cat pee in my office.

Zwei... exercise gives you energy. Bullshit. Exercise makes me tired. And I mean that in both the immediate sense and the grand scheme of things. If exercise gave me energy, I wouldn't be constantly fighting putting my head down on the keyboard for a snooze. (Yes, I get enough sleep - 7.5 hours of sleep a night.) Also, if exercise gave me energy, I'd feel less tired than I did two months ago. Not true. I feel more tired, not less.

Drei... exercise curbs your appetite. If possible, this is even a bigger load of bullpucky than the last one. Exercise makes me hungry. And not just a little hungry... run beserk through the kitchen in a ravenous pillage hungry.

Vier... exercise is fun. Ok, this one I'm not even going to deign to respond to.

Fuenf... exercise helps you lose weight. Ok, if this is true, then there is something seriously wrong with me that would have otherwise made me gain a bunch of weight the last couple of months because I'm pretty much right where I started, despite the diet and all this exercise.

Sechs... if you don't like exercise, you're just lazy. Well, I'm doing it, ain't I? And I ain't slackin' off by half-heartedly pokin' at it. Trainer Guy wouldn't let me, even if I wanted to. I guess that's not really a myth though. That's more a common judgment by jocks.

Maybe kickboxing the people who make these claims would make me feel better.
And it'd probably burn some calories too, huh?


Blogger Jade said...

I did Tae Bo for years and loved how it vented my frustrations... but I ended up with thighs so big I couldn't go down a size in jeans even though I was losing weight!

I joined a gym in March and have gone every week, 2x-3x. In the grand scheme of things I've lost maybe a pound. Possibly. But, I know that I'm gaining muscle ( I can see definition in my arms for sure) so I figure perhaps that "muscle weighs more than fat" thing is true - in which case we need to not look at the scales so much as look at those little pinchy devices that trainers like to use on us.

As to whether or not it gets easier... it really depends on the person. I'm so predisposed to routines that I'll stick to any routine. Back in the winter of 1998 that routine was to eat a package of cookies every three days. Now it's to get to the gym every two to three days. Dan hates exercise, and mainly goes to the gym (prior to the accident, anyway) because I was prodding him to go with me.

The trick is to find your motivator. My friend was diagnosed with heart problems at age 39 and exercises regularly because he wants to be around to raise his kids... so he pictures his boys whenever he is out biking or ordering dinner. Being healthy for your daughter can be a great motivater (that's one of the things I think about too - and teaching her a healthy lifestyle)

12:32 AM  
Blogger Brightdreamer said...

Eh, I say scales lie. Muscle not only weighs more than fat, but having more muscle is supposed to burn more calories just sitting around. Plus there's things like water weight that don't go to long-term fat problems but which screw up the scale reading nevertheless. I go by how I feel, and clothing sizes. If you aren't feeling any better, maybe you need to try something else. Bike riding? Swimming? Ballroom dancing? Professional croquet? (Me, my only real exercise is walking, which I do because it gets me out of the house and because I tend to pace anyway when I'm thinking. Walking is simply applied pacing.)

1:15 AM  
Blogger graymama said...

ROTFL! I can totally relate to your feelings!

I agree with Jade that focusing on staying healthy for your child is a positive motivator. Also, like brightdreamer, I am a walker. It is free and always close to home.

When facing the number on the scale, I try to keep in mind that hockey players who weigh over 200lbs have no body fat to speak of. Muscles are Heavy!

5:09 PM  
Blogger FoxPhile said...

Last summer, when I finished the physical therapy for my knee, I started a program of walking on a treadmill every day. I got up to almost 2 miles in about 50 minutes. Every day. And yes, the exercise was pumping endorphins through me, so that I felt almost high when I was done. I did feel better, have more energy and I was losing weight.

I was losing too much weight. It was too easy! I started to freak out, thinking there must be something wrong if I was losing weight this easily.

So I quit. I went several weeks without the treadmill. This after I'd bought a nice shiny new one all my own! And wonder of wonders, the weight loss stopped.

There wasn't a thing wrong with me, the dang exercise was working miracles and what did I do? I stopped.

I'm working on getting back at it. I'm up to 30 minutes a day and just crawling past the one mile marker. The miracle of swift weight loss has not reappeared and I'm only just beginning to get the sense that this might be making me feel a teeny bit healthier. More energy hasn't really shown up yet, but I think I feel it approaching. Of course, it would probably help if, like before, I was also being more careful about what I eat (I hear you on the post-exercise kitchen rampage!)

This experience has taught me two things about exercise: 1. It is vital to start slow and work your way up. Nothing kills the routine more than being so worn out that you can't move for three days. 2. Do something while exercising that keeps your mind off the sweating and puffing. For me, that's reading fanfic. I've got a whole storehouse that I can prop up on the treadmill and I just let it take me away. Before I know it, that 30 minutes is done. Now if I can just stretch it back up to 50!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous harriet said...

I hear you. Mostly I don't like to exercise at all. But there are a couple of things I do enjoy and I've learned to cultivate them. I have, for example, stopped joining gyms because I really hate them. I love to be outside, so whenever possible, I exercise outside. I also love yoga -- talk about endorphins. I love it not just because it makes my muscles look great, but because it gives me a general sense of well-being and focuses my mind. I also love to swim, cross-country ski, and ice skate. I try to do all of these things whenever possible. Unfortunately, since several of these are contingent on weather, I'm stuck with other things instead -- usually running. I really, REALLY hate to run, but I love being outside. So my compromise is that I take myself to beatiful places to run -- forest preserves, etc. I still don't like the running part, but at least I get something else out of it. And running does help me lose weight where no other exercise does. Last year when I lost 30+ pounds, I did it by cutting back on carbs and sugar and running for a half hour every morning. I lost a half pound almost every day I ran I lost nothing any other day, even if I exercised in some other form. That, in itself, is sometimes motivation enough for me. Hang in there!

6:45 PM  

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