Getting in Shape

I would say getting back in shape but, really, I never was in what I would consider good shape.  Closest I ever game was late eighties when I got serious about bicycling but for various reasons that didn’t last.

I have heard it said that nothing is more boring than someone else’s diet or someone else’s exercise program.  On the other hand, I’ve also heard people getting motivation form other people’s progress.  So, for the former, skip it if you gotta.  The latter?  This is for you.

The biggest problem I’ve always had was a combination of trying too much, too quickly, and the related one of setting unrealistic goals. (Hey, I grew up wanting to be a superhero, which is pretty much the definition of unrealistic goals.)

So, when I decided I needed to do something about the encroaching years and try to actually get in something resembling some sort of shape I wanted to start gradually, have a modest but chartable progression (it’s easier to stay motivated if I can actually point to measureable progress).

Modest, but continuous progress is nothing to sneeze at. (Just ask the famous tortoise.) Back when I was in Judo one of the parents of a younger student said “If you start with just one pushup a day, add one each week, at the end of a year you’re doing more than fifty.”  And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  Oh, I didn’t start with one pushup.  I was a couple of months into the year when I started the program but I took the number of weeks we were in (my calendar app numbers the weeks) and used that as my starting point.  I have religiously added one each week so, as of today, I’m doing 34 every day. (As a point of comparison, that’s enough for a 37 year old to pass the push-up portion of the Army’s physical fitness test, just as a point of comparison.)

I’ve added other exercises to the program as I’ve gone along.  One is a special kind of half-squat that I do specifically to help with ice skating.  In ice skating class the instructor explained that you want to keep ankles, hips, and shoulders all in a line.  When a person normally bends their knees, they tend to push their hips back and lean forward with their upper body.  That is to be avoided on the ice as the weight shift does bad things to your balance and where your weight is centered on the blades.

So, what I do is stand with my back just brushing against a wall–not leaning against it, just barely in contact.  I then bend my knees lowering my body and just barely keeping my back touching the wall.  I can’t go down very deep with those squats because my ankles will only flex so far and I need to keep feet flat on the floor (again, I’m working on ice skating posture with this).  Then slowly back up.  Again, one for each week of the year.  34 this week.

I have added in a couple of “core” exercises on the same one for each week of the year principle.  I finish with a couple of stretches.  Nothing fancy, just some mild stretches of the major muscle groups with particular attention paid to my waist and hamstrings.

So far it’s been working.  My energy levels are up.  I used to actually have difficulty putting on my skates because bending to tighten them compressed my stomach enough that I couldn’t breathe.  Not a problem now.  It may not seem like much but it’s progress to me.  And I’ve been keeping the full routine up for four months now.

Add in that I’ve been watching my diet.  Very low carb to make it easier to keep my diabetes under control. (I don’t really call it “keto” because some of the things involved in that I don’t worry about, just keep net carbs down.) I keep a complete food diary where I mark down not just what I eat but how much and the fat, carbs, and protein in it so I know, really know, how much is going into my system.  No fooling myself about how much I’m eating.  Simply having to think about it, so I can record it, helps prevent “cheating”.

The result is that I’ve lost about 30-40 lbs since I started getting serious (about the same time I started ice skating).    And I can go half an hour or more on the ice before having to take a break where before, once around the rink (or even only halfway around) and my feet hurt too much to continue without a break.

So, fingers crossed, things are getting better on the health and fitness front.

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