Eight weeks to nowhere

Trying to get into the habit of going to the gym by telling myself that from now on I would go at least 4 times a week and exercise for at least 30 minutes on something, anything, wasn’t working. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t constantly thinking that I really ought to make more of an effort to stay fit (in case of the Zombie Apocalypse), and yet my laziness always won out. Then in September I had my cholesterol checked and got depressed over the numbers. What was the use of trying to eat right or exercise? I love eating and even if I ate exactly right all the time my body oversupplies itself with cholesterol all on its own. All signs pointed to a lifetime of medications to reverse a condition already a problem at 28 years old. Stupid genetics.

My genetics are against me in many ways. They have given me a set of hips that should have absolutely no fear of childbirth and as such go against almost every fashion trend since the Marie-Antoinette-style dress that could part the red sea with its girth, wide shoulders that don’t fit well in sweaters, an underdeveloped sacrum that will probably betray me and snap in half when osteoporosis finally sets in, light-sensitive blue eyes that are so nearsighted I feel I ought to have a pet bat just so I won’t be the most blind thing in my house (also because a pet bat would just be effin’ RAD) and a stupid liver that makes tons of cholesterol just for the fun of it. It took me a while to snap out of the self-loathing and finally decide (with lots of encouragement from Husband) what I was going to do about my cholesterol.

I started eating GoLean Crunch every morning for dietary starters and at the beginning of January I challenged myself to a 10K race. I could already do a 5K during my lame “just exercise every day” (aka “minimum amount of exercise to do once in a while when you’ve finally decided you hate yourself enough for today”) regimen and felt the need to (wo)man up a bit. I didn’t sign up or register for anything official. I decided to stick to a training schedule and when the time came I would run (elliptical running—I get wicked shin splints when impact is involved) the 6.2 miles and be proud of myself. I tried to get Sister in on this challenge, but she had her own thing she wanted to do.

Somehow, sticking to and completing the training was the easy part. I followed the schedule exactly except when life interfered and made me work out a day sooner/later. The longer runs could be mildly torturous since my toes would go numb and afterward my feet felt like they were clenched into fists, but that was the only muscle soreness to speak of. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the training. I had finally found the trick for fixing myself long term: Set a short-term goal.

Could I keep it up for 8 weeks until it was finally time to run a 10K?

Turns out I could. This past St. Patrick’s Day I completed my 10K in 59:10. The hour somehow felt short, easy. My heart rate was under control, my pace was relatively consistent and my toes didn’t go completely numb. I couldn’t do that 8 weeks ago. I could be proud, right?

I wasn’t. I’m not.

I thought I would have graduated to actual running at some point in the 8 weeks and wouldn’t feel like such a weakling trying to protect my dumb shins, but I couldn’t.

I thought I might have dropped at least one pant size by the end of 8 weeks, but I haven’t.

I thought I’d have someone to run with and feel a greater sense of accomplishment that two goals had been met, but I was alone.

I thought I wouldn’t have to talk myself into going to the gym anymore, but I do.

I thought the sky would be filled with rainbows and someone would throw me a parade. A damned parade with elephants!

I finished my 10K, the longest distance and time I had ever completed in my entire lazy life, possibly one of my most accomplished moments, and all I got afterward was a barely enthused, “Have a nice day,” from the gym employee who saw me leaving. Husband was waiting at home with a very large smile and very kind words, and I still didn’t feel very good about myself. Why did completing this goal still somehow make me feel like a failure?

Because this didn’t work out the way I thought it would. I thought I’d experience some sort of dramatic transformation; that I wouldn’t be able to live through a day without visiting the gym, that after 8 weeks of really, actually trying to make this change to my life I’d be rewarded by fitting into some of my old, smaller clothes and this would, in turn, motivate me for the next 8 weeks. I thought it’d all be so fucking easy and I’d be happy by now.

But it’s still a struggle, an uphill climb where I can’t see the top, and I feel doomed.

The good (?) news is my cholesterol is down by about 20 points, a short lived victory when considering that my “lowered” cholesterol is still in what Dr. Kenny Loggins would describe as “the danger zone.” Seeing as how the results of the exercise proved to be nothing like I thought, I’m going to go ahead and blame this small improvement on the cereal and not my increased physical stamina.

Of course, nothing is easy. I’ve been eating GoLean Crunch every day for almost three months now and I am officially sick of it to the point I don’t want to eat breakfast at all anymore. Le Sigh.

I know I made an effort. I know I made progress. I know something has changed. Yet, somehow, I still feel like I’m back where I started.

11 Responses to “Eight weeks to nowhere”
  1. Kate says:

    I like to do exercises that make me feel bad ass. My roommate taught me this dumbbell push up row thing (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/dumbbell-pushup-and-row) that I highly recommend. Also something called a stability ball jack knife. I haven’t dropped a size or anything but I do feel a little like Rocky after I do them.

    • Lindsey says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Kate!
      I might have to work up to that dumbbell push up row… another fun thing about my genetics is that I have joints that are hyper-mobile which means I don’t have a whole lot of stability when supporting my body weight with my arms. Lindsey + Push-ups = arms give out and face smashed on floor. On the other hand, the meager push-ups I can do, I do on my knuckles. So that’s a tweensy bit bad ass, right? Tweensy?

      • Angela Vasquez-Giroux says:

        Linds — I too, have the hyper-mobile joint curse. (I can dislocate all my joints at will. Kinda gross).

        That said, I modify things to get the good effect (muscle!) minus the bad (broken nose). This lady does knee push ups :)

        If you need an exercise pal, lemme know — i totally get how hard it can be to go sweat solo. And, change it up — you deserve different breakfasts, lady! Just because you’re being healthy doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself :)

      • Kate says:

        Knuckle push-ups are totally bad ass!

  2. Gavin Craig says:

    I find it totally, 100% impossible to exercise on my own, largely for the reasons you talk about. It’s too easy to not do it. I get bored. And I don’t feel any particular sense of accomplishment when I’m done. This last one is especially bad because while I was a deeply mediocre athlete in high school–that is I was never competitive at anything, ever–I was in far better shape than I am today. My personal best 20-minute 5K was 2 minutes slower than would have even been respectable at the time, but considering that I struggle for a 10-minute mile, it’s probably 15-20 minutes faster than I could do now.

    At which point, why bother? I could walk three miles in 40 minutes.

    But anyway, the best advice I can offer is to find a partner. It won’t exactly make things fun, but just having someone there does wonders to push you an extra minute or two. And it means that someone is right there when you meet a goal, and can take you for a low-fat fro-yo, or whatever it is that fitness people eat to celebrate.

    Congratulations. A 10K is a bitch, and you’re awesome for having done it.

    • Lindsey says:

      Thanks, Gav!

      As for a partner, so far I’ve found that my friends dog will jog a bit with me, so that’s something… though she never has her wallet on her when it’s time for fro-yo.

      I think I’m feeling a little better about the whole thing at this point.
      I’ve bumped myself up onto an advanced beginner 10K schedule now: http://running.about.com/od/racetraining/a/10Kadvbeginner.htm
      Race for the Cure in Detroit and the Dexter-Ann Arbor run are coming up. Husband and I are thinking to do one and/or both of those. I shall report back on the experience of finishing a “real” race when and if that happens. :)

  3. Lindsey says:

    Thanks, Angela! My laziness encompasses nearly everything I do, even when it comes to eating. Cereal every morning means I can lay in bed an extra five or ten minutes, so it’s my own fault, really.

    Husband is helping me work on my shoulder strength with different lifting exercises as knee push ups also make me cringe and whine so much that even I want to smack me. ;)

  4. PJ2fish says:

    If you want to learn some new tricks, let me know. Exercise and me go back a LONG way.

    Although I’ve done (and even won) some 10Ks, I think the 5K distance is easier to train for. I’d rather run a faster 5K than just finish a 10K. Doing interval 5K training can accomplish more fitness goals in the same amount of time as a 10K, and keep your interest up with varied workouts. You have to keep changing what you are doing when you are doing intervals, so you have to pay attention. Breaking up running training with strength training keeps the interest up too.

    Cross-training also combats boredom: Monday- run, Tuesday-bike, then lift weights, Wednesday- run or swim, Thursday- weights or take a class( yoga, pilates, spin), Friday- run or bike, Saturday- something new and longer with husband- rent kayaks or canoes, go for a longer bike ride, take a dance class, take an actual hike on a nature trail, do yoga, kama sutra, whatever… That way you can feel smug about being flexible, strengthen your core, and be a little ADD about the whole fitness thing. Congrats on getting up to a 10K, but now it’s time to mix it up a bit and do intervals, strength training, and stretching to add speed, power, and flexibility. Then you’ll feel badass. Like a honeybadger.

  5. Lauren Malta says:

    For the record, I’m still working on the training schedule, I’m just not nearly as far as you are. Also, I can certainly try to run a 10k with you, but you may have to have Paramedics on standby. Thirdly, I would totally be your workout partner if you wouldn’t insist on living so damn far away from me. : ) Lastly, I tried to get you some Elephants but they were on back order.

    Seriously though, you set a goal, and you accomplished it. And it was a challenging goal. That’s so awesome in itself that the other stuff just doesn’t matter. Running may not be the way to whittle down the Bod for you, but at least you’re trying to do something good for yourself that you enjoy. That’s all you can do. I am damn proud of you. : ) LERVE

  6. Jill says:

    Don’t give up! I never would have thought of myself as a gym-goer, but I joined a gym with an incredible set of classes. I almost never spend time on the treadmill because I would absolutely die of boredom. Classes are a great way to mix it up, and I always feel accomplished when I finish a class because there’s often a lot of cheesy clapping and such. Sort of lame, but also sort of excellent.

    Also, if you can, find a running/walking group. It makes SUCH a difference if you’re training, and you can get that sense of accomplishment :)

  7. Mike Vincent says:

    I was gonna try to write a column for this site about training for a 10K! Glad I didn’t now!

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