Friday, December 30, 2011

Fresh starts and motivation

I’ve exercised regularly most of my adult life. Some of that is because I served in the Army, sure, because physical fitness is part of the culture plus everyone gets regular fitness tests. You'd get written up if you didn't pass and those test scores counted in the promotion boards. So we all worked out.

But I wouldn’t say I was ever all that dedicated; in Basic mostly I just wanted to be done. We did PT every single day and we did old school exercises like squat thrusts and push-ups and five mile runs in our combat boots. I picked up the habit of sort of phoning in the exercises, not really paying attention to things like how I stood or held my back or anything like that. At that point I wasn't working out for me, I was working out because I had to. Unfortunately I carried that attitude into my workouts for a long time.

But I did work out pretty regularly for years after that. My mother had lots of exercise tapes back in the VHS days, so I had lots to choose from when I visited my folks. And she was very generous and often got me a copy of the ones I really liked. Those Jane Fonda workouts were pretty good, to be honest. They included a lot of aerobics, usually 20 to 60 minute workouts, plus later tapes incorporated free weights too. But then everything moved to DVD, except those Fonda tapes. For whatever reason, Warner didn't release her workout tapes on DVD. So I struggled a bit and sort of sputtered to an on-again-off-again routine, not consistent and regular.

Almost seven years ago, something changed for me. Don't get me wrong, I was no more of a sluggard than I’d ever been. It’s just that I’d undergone the sixth of the seven abdominal surgeries I’ve had and my belly was done fighting with gravity. I realized that I had to make a change or else I was going to end up with the worst case of grandma belly in the world—and I wasn’t a grandmother.

So I begged my best friend to go to Pilates classes with me at our company's fitness center, and she did. I started to realize that how I did those exercises actually mattered, and how often I did them mattered as well. Slowly, slowly I got a bit stronger. I think it took about six months before I could do a roll up with no modifications (Kerry cheered for me in that class). The Pilates class was only offered once a week at our gym, so I started doing yoga once a week too. I tried step aerobics (and felt very klutzy), zumba (which was far too free form for this child of Jane Fonda's grapevines), the treadmill (too boring) and the elliptical bike (always crowded). But I stuck with the Pilates and yoga.

And my work paid off. Just eight months later, I had the seventh (and I hope final) surgery. I recovered so much faster, even my poor abused/severed belly muscles. I have mostly stayed faithful to regular work outs over the last five years—I got in the habit of three strength workouts and three aerobic workouts every week, I’d switch them up so I wouldn’t get bored, although doing the same tapes over and over can get stale. I also picked up running while still living in Kansas City. That filled the gap of no good aerobic workouts that are not interval training, and last 30+ minutes. Living in Boston meant I had to find alternatives to running during the winter months, so I have a couple of not very good aerobic workouts—yes, I still miss those Fonda workouts. I flat won’t run on snow and ice, and I won’t pay for a gym membership either. I think it's the height of silliness to pay to work out, then have to get to the gym, change clothes, work out, change again and then get home. No thanks.

In the last two years, I’ve struggled with motivation. I fell pretty badly right after we flooded in 2009 and screwed up my elbow. That, in turn, affected any work out with free weights. I got utterly tired of my two yoga and Pilates DVDs (I’ve had them for seven years now). And then this past year, I just sort of started phoning in the workouts again.

But the thing is, I still have weak abs and that will never change. I can’t just rest on my laurels of having gotten fit and then do nothing to maintain that fitness. And I’ve had enough of phoning it in. I didn’t wait for the start of the new year. Two weeks ago, I started back up again. Yes, those same workouts are boring, so I ordered another DVD. According to the reviews on Amazon, this is a 40 minute aerobic torture test by Jillian Michaels. I will tell you, I got spoiled in years past with those Fonda workouts, but they still aren’t available on DVD. Since the current fad is to do short interval aerobic training I’m kind of excited to have found a 40 minute aerobic workout. Of course I haven’t done that one yet so I may change my story. Stay tuned for a review.


Jeanne said...

The only exercise I haven't injured myself trying to do is walking, and like you, I won't do that on snow and ice. Last winter I went swimming at the college because I was so underemployed I had time, but this winter I have to be at work during the time the pool is open.

kittiesx3 said...

I started running only because I have no patience. I'd rather run the distance and get it over with than be out there still walking and walking and walking. Silly I know.

Jeanne said...

You're one of the few people my age who are still physically able to run!