The week’s been, overall a good one.  Aside from finishing the C25K, I’ve reached my second 10%-of-bodyweight-lost mark.  Depending on how you figure my “ideal weight,” I’m now very nearly halfway or somewhat over halfway towards my weight goal.  My BMI is creeping down along the 28.something mark as well ; in another 3lbs, I should be into the 27s.

A couple of other exciting updates:

I’m re-attempting the 100 Pushups challenge.  A solid 7 good-form push-ups this morning put me into category 2 of the training program (… if this makes no sense to you, check out the program’s admirable simple website.)  I’ve added the challenge to Joe’s Goals page — truly one of the niftiest motivational tools out there — for a Su/Tu/Th commitment.  Before this turns into a GTD blog, or a cheap Lifehacker take-off, however, here’s the other bit of training news ….

My Nike+ arrived in the mail last night, just a day after its adorable little “pouch” came in.  The idea behind the pouch is simple:  I run in a non-Nike brand — Asics, to be precise — and needed a way to attach the Nike+ chip to my shoes.  The more crafty amongst us can sew their own or otherwise mod their shoes, of course … but I’m lazy and clumsy — so there! ;)  Nike has outdone itself with this venture that combines the joys of utter geekery (“… tooooys! …”) with an incentive towards athleticism.  I’m pretty hooked already, even though the first two “runs” that were reported to Nike’s site involved me hobbling around the kitchen (a) and dashing down the stairs to retrieve one of the last boxes to survive the move from the back of my vehicle (b).  We’ll have to do something about that sooner rather than later — hey, perhaps tonight!🙂

… the C25K Graduate, to be precise.  That’s me.  As far as I can tell, there are no awkward frame-jobs in genuine-wood-veneer, no heart-warming speeches, and definitely no walks across narrow stages that threaten to make it into your “Top 5 Moments of Humiliation” when you imagine tripping and falling on the polyester sheet you’re wearing.

There’s just more work to be done.  Kind of like in the real world, really.

So the question is — “Phit (… that’s the moniker I picked for myself, after experimenting with such gems as “PhitGirl”, “Phitter” and “Phittess” — see, aren’t you happier that I decided to keep things simple?! …😉, what sort of an exercise regimen do YOU partake of?

Funny you should ask!  My primary form of aerobic exercise these days is — running.

The space left here is intended for all those who’ve known me for more than a couple of months and, as such, know me to be the postergirl for not running.  To recap:  I’ve never run — not in my teens, not in the fittest parts of my 20s (and there were some of those!), not when my high school gym teacher threatened me with a failing grade.  I’m happy to walk, hike, walk a bit more … but running has been my long-time nemesis.  For starters, I’ve got chronic asthma, triggered by pretty much anything and everything, and the combination of strenuous exercise and the great outdoors seemed a bit too chancy. I distinctly remember thinking during my stint at 135lb and regular gym-attendance, lo, about a decade ago, that the fabled “runner’s high” might be worth taking the plunge … until I realized that aforementioned high wasn’t supposed to set in until at least an hour into the run.  Oh.  Nevermind.

That I’m running quite a bit these days — somewhere in the vicinity of 10 miles or so per week (… stop laughing, ye marathoners! …) has to do with aforementioned Couch to 5K plan.  The brilliant minds behind this program have made a convert out of me — a slow, plodding, but enthusiastically running convert.  Tomorrow’s the big day:  My graduation from the program, after three days of running for 30 minutes straight.  Thereafter, I’ll be jumping into another program, again, one mentioned earlier: Hal Higden’s Spring Training for novices. (It might be worth noting that this program is supposed to prepare the “novices” — note to Mr. Higden:  Hal, dear chap, if your “novices” can run for 3 miles at a stretch, you’ve never dealt with someone of my caliber! — for being able to enter a marathon training program.  By my calculations, I’m therefore in the pre-pre-marathon preparation phase at this point.  Not that I aspire to running one of those suckers anytime in the near future!)

In addition to running, I’ve been jab-ing and roundhouse-ing through a weekly kickboxing class, as well as occasionally flirting with the cardio-equipment the local (expensive, universty-funded) gym has to offer:  You know, elliptical trainers, hill-walking on treadmills, recumbent bikes, etc.  With the academic year being off to an early start next month, I’m determined to also take my first ever spinning class — only about 7 or 8 years behind the American phitness curve, I might add.  And then there’s yoga, which, really, is great for stretchiness and body-weight strength training, but I’m still looking for an instructor who’ll spend less time on trying to get me to become one with the universe and expand beyond the boundaries of the room, and more time on helping me figure out how to not fall over during the more basic stretches.

This, finally, brings me to the other important category of exercise:  Lifting.  Resistance training.  You know, weights.  For the past week or so, I’ve been lifting several times per day, courtesy of my moving my sizable library (… and those other, lesser parts of my life, like dishes and winter clothes …) across town and from basement to third floor.  I’m feeling my triceps, my quads and a wide range of other muscles I wasn’t aware were still “in there, somewhere”.  When this adventure comes to an end tomorrow, I’ll have to get serious about figuring out a consistent weightlifting plan that won’t completely overwhelm me, either with the complexity of moves (… I’m a klutz, remember? …) or the amount of time required.  I’ll keep you posted on these efforts — and would love some input from you as well.  One basic element that I may re-add to my routine is the 100 Push-Ups challenge.  I whimperingly gave up in week 3 (… because, you know, just because you’re too damn proud to start in the category into which you really belong doesn’t mean that your body will miraculously rise to what you throw at it.

One final worthwhile resource for the motivationally challenged, like yours truly:  StickK — check it out and start committing yourself🙂

Exercise is important.

Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.

If you’re curious for a list of reasons why exercise is important, this month’s issue of Fitness Magazine provides an impressive list of all the good exercise will do for you, from amping up your sex drive to jogging your memory.  But, seriously:  Unless you’ve spent the last few years with your fingers stuck in your ears, singing “La la la, I can’t hear you!” at the media, or if you’re desperately trying to create new magazine content around the never-changing principle of “eat less, move more,” you should already know enough about the “why” of exercise to move you to the conclusion that you oughta … er … move.

(I swear, I don’t plan those witty puns.  *sigh*)

Somewhere between the conclusion that you ought to exercise and the actual act of exercising (yours) lies the big ugly ditch of … motivation? Making time? Ass-in-gear-ness? Stick-to-it-ive-ness?  And let me be very clear:  The big ugly ditch kept me from having to buy new (any!) sneakers for years.  Here’s some of what finally worked for me (… we’ll keep divine intervention out of it for the moment):

  1. Know Thyself: I’m goal-oriented.  I also like structure.  These are mixed blessings, particularly since I’m also prone to the killer of all exercise regimens, otherwise known as “all or nothing” thinking.  You know:  “If I can only work out for (30 minutes, an hour, three evenings a week, etc.), I might as well not bother.”  Therein lies great folly.  On the other hand, my love of structure makes me fond of all manner of plans, e.g. the Couch-to-5K *plan* or Hal Higdon’s Novice Spring Training *plan* or the pre-*planned* weekly kickboxing class at the local gym.
  2. Start Small: Eventually, after years of trial and error, I realized that a.) I couldn’t do it all and that b.) doing nothing wasn’t working out so well either.  It also dawned upon me that there was a handy little walking trail just outside of my apartment.  And one day, those realizations met in the very empty space of my cranial cavity and, behold, the daily (read: several-times-weekly) walk was born.  It took less than an hour the first time, and continued to take less and less time over the coming weeks, as my fitness level was improving.  Still, it was that elusive bit between “everything” and “nothing” — it was “something”. Something’s pretty good.
  3. Know No Shame: I’m at least as self-conscious as the average woman.  This may have to do with the fact that I’m larger than the average woman, at least in matters of fatty deposits, that my face turns a lovely shade of tomato whenever I exert myself in the least (and stays that way for, lo, the hour to come), and that I am a natural redhead.  Shame was beaten into me from my grade-school days. I’m also in my thirties and, as you may have gathered, not the fittest form in any room — particularly not if the room is a pseudo-Ivy gym-facility filled with nubile freshmen who are, on average, 15 years younger and fifty pounds lighter than yours truly.  Add to all these that I’m a klutz, constantly covered in bruises and without even the rudiments of balance, and you’ll quickly realize why everyone in my Yoga class knows me:  I’m the one who falls over.  Ditto for kickboxing:  I not only fall over, I also fall terminally behind during routines that involve more than, say, one move.  The point is, however, that I can take it.  That most people really ARE preoccupied with themselves — particularly in large, spare rooms covered with mirrors — and that those who aren’t are not my problem.
  4. There’s of course a long series of additional “commandments” — “have fun!”, for example, or “find balance in your regimen,” or “switch it up on a regular basis” … but let’s face it:  For the most part, these are for the pros amongst us, and I’m very far from joining those ranks.  In the next post, I’ll tell you a bit more about the things I’m actually doing to keep my rear in gear these days … and perhaps solicit some advice on how to make the pieces that need to be part of it (but aren’t yet) fit.

(lat.: To whose benefit?)

The person behind this blog, the person who conceived and is writing this blog, the person also shamelessly benefiting from this blog — that’s me: I’m a Ph.D. student in the humanities, somewhere in my early thirties, trying to live that “mens sana in corpore sano” principle. My twenties saw all kinds of upheaval: A never-ending series of moves, including a few dramatic ones — cross-global as well as cross-continental — and an average of 1.2 annual local ones.  (It took me until my 30s to acquire a bed that did not fold up and tuck away into a corner of my hovel apartment.) There were also about three college and post-college degrees, a couple of different career paths, a few boyfriends and the un-changing resolve to lose weight/keep weight off/start exercising/keep exercising/eat healthier/eat less obsesively … you get the picture.

My thirties were a much happier time:  I found a career path I loved, a field that fascinated me, and — bizarrely enough — a school that was willing to pay me to get trained in it.  After some agonizing, I moved across the country (yet again), settled into a nice community, bought a bed, made friends — two unrelated activities, I’d like to add — and lived happily ever after.  At the same time, though, I started realizing a number of not-so-good things:  For one, I didn’t have any pictures of myself from recent years — I had been a camera dodger from an early age, but by age 30, I had become a pro.  The pictures of me I *did* see were pretty horrifying; out of the blue, it seemed, I had grown an unprecedented double-chin, overstuffed sausages as arms and legs, and a beanbag chair around my middle. When I finally hopped on the scale, after a month of fairly intensive efforts at reforming my life, it showed me a scary number, one I had never seen before. In more serious news, some of my friends started doing unhappy things — like dying, even and especially at a young age, or developing cancer, heart disease, and the other “top ten killers of Americans today”.  And so I was both unprecedentedly happy, and unprecedentedly unhappy.

After months of half-hearted attempts to shore up the energy to keep eating healthy beyond the 2-hours-into-“diet” mark or actually, you know, getting my rear into the entry-way of the luxurious local gym, something clicked.  That was some time in March or April.  Now, at the tail end of July, there’s 35 lbs less of me.  But never fear!  I’ve still got at least that much to go and unquestionably much to blog about — phood, phitness and the PH.D.