Summary: I ran a mile today!
The succinctly verbose edition:
On August 2 (2010), I decided I needed to implement regular cardio activity into my life. Yeah, I am active — cutting trees, splitting wood, working on and around the house, working in the shop, etc., but, not being one to avoid indulgence in anything that piques my interest or effervesces my senses, food is not something I am loathe to regulate.
I am not sure what level of detail is relevant, but since this is really the first note I’ve even written about this workout regime, I’m just gonna give whatever back story seems relevant.
I have always carried a few extra pounds, but I have always been pretty athletic and active. It was never an issue at all (other than teen self identity issues) until I went to college. There, I realized I could sit in my dorm room all day, play Quake 2 until 4am in the morning, sleep until 3pm, and go to the dining hall and down 8 grilled cheese sandwiches. (Yes, 8 was my record.)
By the end of my sophomore year, I clocked in at 315 lbs! Granted, at least 25 lbs. of this was water weight, presumably from the high sodium content of dining hall nourriture. By the end of that summer, my weight had settled to, and would stay at, 285 lbs, for the next few years. By 2003, the end of my first year of graduate French studies, Metabolife was the big dieting pill on the market, and I tried it.
It worked. I lost 30 lbs. in 2 months, and felt quite good about myself. That summer, I took a trip to France, where I did not hesitate to indulge in food. I lost an additional 10 lbs (despite my concerns that the indulgence was going to do the opposite.) Apparently, walking a minimum of a mile a day, and drinking a gallon or so of water helps with the “staying trim” trend.
There are other details I could fill this story with, but I realize 334 words in that I’ve yet to mention what any of it has to do with my current workout which many of you reading (especially those who know me) did not even know I was engaged in (eww … finished the sentence with a proposition — oh look I corrected it with a sentence fragment enclosed in parentheses … [ellipse … ooh brackets!]).
So after France, and after I took a most-likely-permanent hiatus from my graduate studies, I was able to maintain my weight at about 255 lbs. Again, as it turns out, doing a minimum two-hour-per-workday workout of sorting/stacking pallets probably helped with that, as I certainly wasn’t being calorie conscious.
Then, somewhere in that mix the love bug hit and took away 15 lbs. without my really doing anything! But, my pallet utopia came to an end, and I entered my current path of employ which is notably much more sedentary. Eventually, I balanced myself back up to that 285 lb. range.
Finally, I got fed up with that. Metabolife was no longer an option because of the whole ephedra thing, not to mention it was not really the most enjoyable diet in many ways. I decided I was just going to have to exercise. That winter (of 2007 I believe) I started regularly using the treadmill at work. No heavy cardio, just walking, every day. However, the stress of work, and the continuing pressing requirement to do that every day made me stop. I’m sure it helped some cardiovascularly, but nothing I recall noting.
Finally, I just decided I had to eat less. I just cut my portions in thirds, and tried to use water/coffee as vice substitutes. Guess what? It worked! Once again, I dropped 30 lbs over a period of a few months. However, I eventually got back into loving food, and weight started coming back on. Not as much this time, however. I was able to balance myself at around 265 (probably because I’d trained myself to be more portion-conscious — eat until you’re full, and for pete’s sake, drink water — a lot of it!).
In addition, I’m in my 30s now, and apparently all kinds of quirky health things happen. You feel like you’re having a heart attack, but it’s just indigestion … your back hurts, mostly because it’s been carrying you for 30 years. Well, I just decided it was no longer an issue of weight loss.
So along comes “old man hoops.” I start playing basketball once a week for a few hours. It did make me feel better, but it ended in April 2009. Again, I started gaining weight. By July, I looked back at pictures of me from March, and I realized that one day a week of basketball was significantly contributing to an improved physique. I realized that if that little bit of exercise was helping, and I was enjoying it, that all I needed to do was commit to having an active life style — a minimum amount of cardio exercise, EVERY week, no exception, no short term — for the rest of my life. And this amount, is really only in the ball park of 75 minutes.
Finally, here we are present day. August 2, 2010, I did my first cardio workout — get up early (around 6am), get to work early, do a few weight exercises, and hit the treadmill. I hate running … I really do, but that is what is available. I picked a small amount — just 15 minutes of fast paced walking/jogging — enough to get my heart rate above 130.
I tried different ideas. The weights part has pretty much stayed the same:
- 10 reps (or whatever I could do) knee raises on the dip machine (mostly to help with lower back problems, but also great for legs and abs)
- 10 pushups (or whatever I could do — I admit I can still only do about 7 at a time)
- 10 straight arm butterflies on the BowFlex (probably the best exercise I do)
- 25 upright crunches using the BowFlex for resistance
- Repeat one time
Cardio? I realized quickly that a graduated routine with short term goals was the easiest. I just picked a slow speed, and a small incline, and decided to work my way up.
The basic concept I eventually settled on (I can’t remember where because I didn’t write it down) was to do a 2 minute warmup brisk walk, 3 minutes at speed, walk 1 minute, 2.5 minutes at increased speed, walk 1 minute, 2 minutes at increased speed, walk 1 minute, 1.5 jog, 1 walk, 1 sprint, 2.5 min cool down.
This created a 18 minute treadmill routine. It didn’t seem like much, but I figured I’d work on it.
It only took 2 weeks to notice changes. Muscles started showing through my skin, then bones, then even more muscles. I had shape to my obliques … amazing.
So the summary to this point: I have only lost maybe 10 lbs. (still hovering around 255). I have a noticeably different shape — my pants fit better, more bones/muscles jutting out. I am by no means super trim, but I’m on my way I think. Again, the one thing that keeps me going, given, as I said, that I hate running, is my commitment to cardiovascular health. Weight loss and improved physical appearance would just be great bonuses. My goal is just to keep this up until I die (because it killed me, or saved me 😉 ).
Back to the reason I wrote this article, I am now up to a base speed of 6.0mph, and 4.0% incline, and this morning, for the first time in quite some time, I ran a non-stop mile — yep: 6.0mph @ 4.0% incline for appx. 10.5 minutes. (Yeah, sometimes I just feel like continuing to run rather than graduate the routine …)
I figured that was enough to give me something to write about, though it appears I am not lacking in things to say. Historically, whenever I’ve done longer runs than the graduated method prescribes, it’s the only time I can do it for weeks, but I’m going to try again on Friday. Ultimately, I’d like my 16 minutes of running to be non-stop, where I just increase the speed and incline until I just can’t do more, or am a world-class uphill sprinter. 🙂
Next update in 3-6 months (give or take).