Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

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Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Never Say Never

Hello out there! Boy, it's been a while. I'm gonna just pretend I didn't fail to post for about four months, because if I try to catch up, this post will be so long it will never get finished. I'll just mention things that happened during the "silent" period as they come up. Now, on with the blog!

So...a couple of weeks ago, I started doing something I swore I would never do. Never say never, eh? To wit: I started running. I hate running. I HATE RUNNING! It makes my chest hurt within two minutes, and why subject yourself to that when there are other ways to get your cardio in that don't hurt nearly as much? I have never seen a runner who looked like they were having fun, unless you count those grimaces that mimic a smile that you sometimes see on marathoners who have left the realm of sanity and entered oxygen-deprivation-hallucination mode. For many years, my patented statement on the subject has been, "I only run if something with large teeth and claws is chasing me."

Why did I do this about-face? Well, I read this article on the BFL site, by someone named Charles Staley (I would give you the link if I had it, but I think it is just one possible selection of a randomized link), which laid out an entire program that involved running twice a week, no substitutes for the running allowed, and it included the magic words, "Do you want to lose twice the fat in half the time?" Nodding like one of those bobble-head dolls, I somehow found myself planning to include running in my fitness program, something I hadn't done since being forced to run laps in gym class in high school, which I would have refused to do had I not been a "good girl" who didn't make waves with the teachers, as well as a good student who didn't want to bust up a chance at being valedictorian because of a low grade in gym, for crying out loud (my only low grades--"low grade" means a B, by the way--were in chemistry and debate, and the debate grade was no surprise because I was just too shy to confront anyone successfully; I'm over that now). If that had happened to the person I am today, I would have told the teacher to...well, I'm too polite to tell someone to shove it. Probably I would just say something like, "I don't run. Ever. Throw me in a pool, and I'll swim laps against anyone until their arms fall off. Give me a bike, and I'll ride from here to the county line and back. But I'm not gonna run." I'm not speedy in any athletic arena you could name (although I read faster than anyone I've ever met), but I have endurance. Pre-BFL, I used to swim two miles at a time for exercise a few times a week during the summer (in our 16 x 32-foot pool, that is 165 laps, or 330 turns). I cut back to one mile at a time not because two miles was too hard, but because I got so darned bored. It took me about an hour and a half to do the two miles, and long before the end of it, I would be about ready to poke my eyes out from the lack of variety.

But I digress. So. Running. I still hate it. I've done it four times in the last three weeks, in the very specific setup described in the article (involving warm-up jogging, intervals, cool-down). It still makes my chest hurt, although not quite as soon. But a strange thing happened to me yesterday when I was running. I actually warmed up with 25 minutes of running before starting my intervals, and I could have done more, but I was looking for a stretch of road with particular characteristics for my intervals, so when I found one, I started the intervals. And later it struck me that here was another example of how BFL has affected me: even with having exercised all my life, before BFL, I would only have been able to do maybe five or ten minutes of running before requiring a stretcher. And yesterday I did 25 minutes of it with only one break, ten minutes in, for a minute and a half of stretching, with the 25 minutes immediately followed by eight one-minute intervals of running (with intensity alternating between 9 and perhaps 5 or 6). And at the end, I wasn't completely wiped out. I had to cut back a little on the high-intensity part of the intervals and only go to a level 9 instead of 10, because my knees had been bothering me since the day before, which I think was due to something I did wrong in yoga class that night, since it came on pretty suddenly. (The knees are even worse today. I don't think the running did them any favors.)

Anyway, the thing of it is, most of the time I work out and work out and I'm not seeing much in the way of results on any level, but once in a while (ever since I started BFL a year and a half ago), something happens that shows me how much my abilities have increased, and I can now do things that I have never been able to do before. The first moment of that nature was about six months ago, when I actually passed Tom on a hill when we were on the bikes. In 17 years or so of biking together, that had never happened before! That was when I knew I was in better shape than I had ever been in my life, in terms of what I was able to do. I may not be seeing the fat coming off my body the way I'd like, but right now, I am physically stronger than I have ever been in my life...and I just turned 40 years old. Sometimes I find it hard to see any positive changes in my life (it's usually more like two steps forward, five steps back), but that is something I can be proud of.

Tom just got home, and has invited me to go for a walk, so I'm going to find out just how bad my knees are right now. Next time I'll tell you all about my new diet plan, my new schedule, my new work projects....


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