Saturday, May 1, 2010

What I learned from Exercise & Meditation Month

I decided to pretend today was the last day of exercise month, mostly because I didn't make it to the gym on Thursday or Friday. It was a good decision. Michael went fishing in Plymouth today, with the boat, which meant also with my car. Which meant I was somewhat trapped at home. I decided to pretend I was on a hotel getaway weekend, where I don't mind being trapped in a hotel room, so long as I have some books and some snacks.

So I read the rest of the books I had wanted to read this month. I liked Dr. Oz's book a lot better than the Body for Life book. Although BFL had some good tips--and I'm sure the program works--I felt like I was reading an infomercial. And the progress reports seemed like so much work. Not easy enough to incorporate into my life, although I did learn some important things from reading it. And, all that reading about being healthy left me inspired, so I decided to don my pedometer for another day and WALK to the gym to sign up for my personal training sessions. Sadly, Michael had my mp3 player in my car with him, so the vision I had of running all-out to a Melissa Etheridge soundtrack sort of evaporated. I walked. At a normal pace. It took about 40 minutes to get to the gym, which is probably between 1.5 and 2 miles away. It also took 5,000 steps! sweet. Once there, I signed up for my three training sessions (eek. I was ridiculously nervous about this for some reason.) and then did some expressline weights. The walk back was more was hot out, and I was hot already.

And I got passed by an older gentleman shuffle-jogging along. He was probably 70 years old, easy. I was relieved when he turned into an industrial park so I didn't have to eat his dust anymore. Until I turned a corner, and he was jogging towards me. Sigh.

Still, I felt GREAT by the time I came home, and I sank into a bath with my Eckhart Tolle book. But then I found myself falling asleep, so I had to get out. I guess all that exercise really took it out of me. Also, I was sunburned. sigh. I really don't know why it didn't occur to me to put on sunscreen. I think I thought it would be a shorter walk than it was, but still.

So then I continued my hotel weekend getaway with a lifetime movie (shhhh.) and a nap. It was one of those naps where I closed my eyes and felt like I was in a time warp when I awoke 2 hours later. I had just dead passed out. Luckily, Michael came home soon after, bearing groceries and the makings of his wonderful stir fry which is one of my all-time favorite meals. Not a bad day for feeling trapped. AND it turns out I actually accomplished nearly all of the goals I set for this month. I haven't yet signed up for the meditation retreat, because you have to actually mail in a form. I wish you could sign up online!

Okay, okay...typing that made me realize how much I make excuses to not meet my goals, so I'm going to go install the printer on my new computer (which I've been putting off, because it's such a pain) and then I am going to print the registration form, fill it out, scan it in, and email it in. Then I will have completed every goal except the body pump class, which I'm okay with since the personal training will enlighten me on the world of weightlifting.

There! I did it. (50 minutes later!). I'm registered.


So, here are some of the things I learned during my exercise/meditation month:
  1. It's best to exercise first thing in the morning, before eating. It's WAY more effective than exercising in the afternoon or evening, because you've been inactive for hours and your body immediately turns to stored fat for energy, rather than using calories from something you just ate.
  2. Exercising in the morning didn't really increase my energy levels (except the morning I did spinning) but it also didn't DECREASE my energy levels, and it did leave me with seemingly more hours in the day and ensure that I was able to exercise.
  3. Spinning made me want to puke, and left me hurting for days afterwards, but it also REALLY revved me up and the high lasted for hours. Now that I've been a couple of times--and invested in padded shorts--I think I'll go more often.
  4. I learned from my book that if you tend to do a similar workout most days (like, ahem, 30 minutes on the elliptical) your body and metabolism gets used to it and adjusts. You need to vary your workout in order to continue to lose weight efficiently, tone your body, and build muscles.
  5. I also learned that, if you rate the intensity of your workout on a scale of 1-10, you're supposed to be around a 7 or 8. I typically am somewhere around a 5. Spinning was somewhere around a 12. So that's probably why I felt so great afterwards. I really thought that if I showed up and put one foot in front of the other for 30 minutes, I was putting in the proper amount of effort to keep my body healthy. I was wrong. Turns out you actually need to WORK at it. dammit.
  6. According to Dr. Oz (and I'm going to go out on a limb here, and call him an expert) you need to walk 30 minutes EVERY FREAKING DAY. Doesn't matter if you split it into smaller chunks of time, but you need to do it every day. In addition, you need 60 minutes of cardio training per week (usually in 3, 20-minute sessions) and 60 minutes of strength training to build muscles. If I would have actually followed this, it would have been a lot easier to reach 10,000 steps per day, which I only did three days out of this whole month.
  7. I learned that muscles burn calories WAY faster than fat, which is why resistance training is so important and you can't rely simply on cardio. (If only I could convince Michael!)
  8. I get in my own way a lot, and make a lot of excuses. For example, I couldn't meditate until I found the "right" exercise to guide me. I didn't even realize I was doing this until Gina pointed it out...the point of meditation is to BE. To sit with yourself. To be aware of your thoughts while sitting with yourself, and sit in them, and get through the other side of them. You don't need a guided meditation for that, just a few minutes of committed quiet time. I was so worried about doing it "wrong" but it turns out, you really can't do it wrong...unless you don't do it because you're so hung up on doing it right.
  9. There was one day this month that really felt different--I awoke in the morning and DIDN'T feel tired AND I still wasn't tired after work. The only thing I can think of that was different, was that I had done a spinning class the night before. Maybe it helped me get better sleep?
  10. I grew to like oatmeal. AND I grew to understand the importance of a fiber-filled breakfast...and a few walnuts a half hour before eating a meal....and lots of water throughout the day.
  11. I learned the most from my Susan Piver and Eckhart Tolle books, and I am LOVING applying those lessons to my life. After reading up on the ego in "The New Earth", I often warn myself "Don't be right" which sounds odd, but helps me clarify my intentions in interactions. I want to make sure I'm not making myself be right by making others wrong. Which it turns out I do a lot more frequently than I would have guessed. It's already helped me wow my boss in a tricky conference call. I was particularly proud of that. Not the wowing her part, but my ability and inclination and willingness to jump into the middle of a thorny issue and be helpful instead of right.
  12. The single most important factor to the success of exercise month was my exercise buddy, Melissa. If I made a commitment to go to a class with her, I would go, even if I had gotten only a few hours of sleep. And she made a few hours of exercise and chatting a week feel like a luxury, especially when taken during an on-duty shift in the dorm. I managed to get to the gym approximately 5 times per week this month, and I give her LOTS of the credit. Another share of credit goes to Michael, who was always willing to let me skip out of being on duty in order to exercise, and kept telling me how proud he was of my efforts. The rest of the credit goes to me (and, indirectly, making myself publicly accountable on this blog)...but I probably need to work on being my own motivation a little more.

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