Sunday, June 24, 2012

Something Lost, Something Gained

Over a year ago, I published a blog post concerning exercise with a rather dour view on my own progress with the physical world. In that time, I have done a lot of documentation and observation of myself as I began to make visible strides and progress. The first step in this progress was being able to disseminate, differentiate, and take advantage of the different signals my body gave me. The next step was to overcome the mental barrier I had put in place, and it was a big one.

Over the years of inactivity it became VERY easy to not do anything physical. Our bodies are hardwired to be efficient and will always default to the lowest energy state. My muscles had atrophied, my overall energy was stable, but low, and my weight was going up and gaining momentum. Like so many with issues keeping weight on, I was more than happy to let it pile on. As a precaution, I did set a benchmark for myself. I told myself that if I ever had to purchase a size 38 waist, that I had probably put on enough weight in proportion to my height. I hit that benchmark in between October and November of 2010.

True to my word, I started working out more often. I failed -- miserably. When all one sees is a cut man or woman bench pressing 1000lbs anywhere in the media, it does get rather discouraging when I couldn't even lift 5lbs more than a few times. I stopped and started several times. After three attempts, I knew I had to change the way I viewed work outs and what was possible for me. True to being me, I went into research mode and starting rereading about workouts and finding out more than what I learned in college. Yes, I actually took classes in college. Chalk this bit of good luck up to required summer classes and me not wanting to think too hard. Surprisingly, there is a lot of solid theory to all of it. This reaquaintance of information laid the foundation for my new and current workout regime strategy: core, endurance, strength.

In this day of instant information and data bombardment, I would think that most people have heard the term "core" in relation to working out. To put it simply, your core is the part of your body that you will use when performing any simple, mid-level, or advanced training exercises. If you need a visual, think of the core as your body as it connects your arms, legs, and head. There are many different exercises that can be used to strengthen your core depending on your personal goals. I was just looking to get myself moving, increase physical energy, and increase my strength; definition and toning were not of great importance. To that end and to keep life simple, I chose to focus on my abdominal muscles with basic sit-ups.

In my failures, I learned that I needed to focus on one task at a time and that I needed to make certain that I felt like I was accomplishing something. I told myself that I could only add new items once I had fulfilled certain rules with what I was already doing. I also took a very different attitude to the work out than most of the people I will call "gym rats" and "gym bunnies," I took the stance, "Thanks, don't care." What that meant to me was that if I worked out, then I was doing great since I was reaching toward a goal. On the converse, if I missed a day or two...or three or four...then I wasn't going to stress about it, I wasn't going to get down, and that I could always go back to it. 

The new plan of action with a new thought process helped me stick with my workout plan. I set my sit-up rule so that I could only add another exercise when I could do 50 standard sit-ups four times in a row. Sounds like a lot, but it isn't. It did take me about 9 months to get to that point, but I eventually did and it felt good and I could tell the difference in my core strength. I realize I have only written about core and left out the other two strategies from this blog post. That was intentional. Core comes first, I will write about endurance and strength later.

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