Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Return of the Gym Rat

The one thing I really don't like about winter is the short days. I can deal with and even enjoy the snow, frigid cold, and the sloppy driving conditions of winter, but waking up in the dark and eating dinner in the dark really bugs me.

So, later in January when I sense the days getting longer my spirits begin to revive and I have visions of spring and all the fun things that I'll be able to do when it gets warmer and the days start early and end late. Then, I look in the mirror and take stock of what the more sedentary late fall and winter have done to my profile...tummy protruding a bit, pectorals and quads less defined, the bicep more like a potato than an orange. Time to hit the gym again! This happens every year, just like groundhog day.

This afternoon marked my second workout of 2008. Thirty-five minutes on the elliptical cycle trainer, then abs, back, laterals, bench presses, triceps pull-downs, curls with palms up and down, shoulder pull-downs. A little more than one hour of pure pleasure! OK, I'll have to endure a bunch of places that bark for a couple weeks, but those irritations simply remind me that something good is happening under my skin.

After two or three weeks I'll see some changes taking place. I'll gain a little weight as I replace fat with muscle. Some of the tummy will be gone, and some of the old pect's and biceps will have returned. I'll be lifting 15% more weight with the same effort, and I'll do more repetitions. Every two or three weeks I'll see the same level of progress once again. February, March, April. By May there will be a much different "me". Ready for hiking and golf once again! (My kids have shamed me back to the Appalachian Trail, I have to admit - "Dad never gives up!")

If you've never exercised seriously as an adult, think about it. The endorphin rushes are wonderful, and progress is easily measured. Every other day is a good plan, since the day off allows time for things to heal a bit before you gently torture them again!


ThomasLB said...

I've been having some trouble with depression, and really really didn't want to go back on medications, so the doctor suggested we try Omega-3 supplements and exercise. And it's working!

My bad back won't let me do much cardio work. I can only walk about a fourth of a mile without pain, and after that it feels like someone is hammering a nail into my spine- but but I can lift weights. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but with weight lifting it's easier to maintain good posture, and after a minute or so of activity I get a little break.

Ron Davison said...

Leonard Cohen has a great lyric:
"I ache in places where I used to play."
Yesterday, I had a first: session with a personal trainer. I work out about 2 to 5 times a week, but this left muscles aching that I didn't know I had. New exercises and old muscles don't always get along so well, I guess.

Eusebius said...

ThomasLB, I just wated to share that I used to be very troubled with back pain until I started yoga. Back woes come in many varieties--mine was muscular--so no guarrantees, but I certainly recommend it.