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Struggles with Exercise

June 2, 2011

When I turned 38 last December, I set a goal for myself – by the time I am 40, I want to be fit.  Not thin, but fit.  And fit, to me, does not mean “at the bottom end of a yo-yo arc.”   It means I’ve changed my lifestyle.  I’ve created new habits, new loves.   When I envision this fit-Suzie, I envision someone who goes for a 5 mile run on a regular basis, and loves it.  Someone who is strong, not soft and flabby.

And so my sub-goal was to lose my weight by the time I’m 39, and then spend a full year maintaining the weight.

Well, I haven’t been motivated enough to think that I can safely lose all of the weight by December.  I guess I have 6 months – but I am not really all that interested in a crash diet.  I am interested in making healthy choices and ensuring I have healthy habits.  But quite frankly – I think I already do.

Based on past experience with my personal brand of weight gain and maintenance, I know that the only real way for me to lose weight is to exercise.  Despite this knowledge, and despite this goal, I still spent at least 2 months pushing snooze and sleeping until 7 or 8, instead of getting outside and running.

However, for the past two weeks, I have enlisted the partnership of a friend, and we have been meeting up at our local reservoir at 6 a.m., and holding each other accountable.

Before we met the first time, we both shared “Oh, I’m embarrassed to run with you because I’m so slow” politeness.

The reality, though, is that she kicks my ass.

I was shocked the first day at how thoroughly she kicked my ass.  I took a couple of walking breaks and panted and struggled.  But afterward, I thought “now THIS is going to work!”

I was kind of sore afterward, but I was okay with sore.  It meant I was pushing myself, and I was going to do better.

But then the muscle soreness kind of took a back seat to lower back twinges.  Twinges I don’t really have a history with.  Something new.

Then after the second day, the lower back twinges were joined by a horrible feeling in my right hip.

On day 3, I was limping.  I still walked to the reservoir.  I was unsure how my very, very sore hip would feel running v. walking.  I didn’t feel like walking was pushing anything.  But when I did a test jog, that right leg was like dead weight.  I could not jog.

She walked with me, and then I took a couple days off.  I went back out on Monday alone, and tested my hip.  I felt “okay.”  Still having lower back twinges now and again, and my hip was tender.  I jogged on and off.

We met again on Tuesday, and she ran while I walked.  I did more jogging than on Monday, and didn’t feel like I was pushing myself.

Yesterday, she had to cancel, and I didn’t go by myself, as I had an important presentation at work, and talked myself into staying home so I wouldn’t be late.

But on my way to work yesterday, I got irritated with an old, slow man walking in front of me in the T station, and went to dash around him.  My foot grabbed a crack in the stairs, and I stumbled. That stumble sent shock waves through my lower back where it had been twinging.   It went away during my walk to work, though.

This morning, we met again.  She was in a slower mode, and so we walked and jogged on and off.  Since I jogged with her, my jogging spells were faster than when I’m alone, and I also generally jogged more than I had in the past couple days.

I’d like to just run with her tomorrow, but I’m a little scared.  I’m scared that something is brewing, an injury that won’t just let me walk through it.

I also think that some of these problems are caused by the extra weight I’m carrying around.  At least 50 pounds of extra weight.  And I’ve been carrying 40-50 pounds of extra weight for quite a few years now.  And I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

Inasmuch that my weight is causing the problems, I’m 100% disinterested in NOT exercising.  But I am thinking about how to do this safely.

  • Should I add in yoga, for better stretching (I never used to have to stretch, I was always so flexible).
  • Should I see a doctor?  A chiropractor?
  • Should I keep running, as long as I listen to the signs and twinges?
  • Should I add in weight training, to strengthen surrounding muscles?

These are my questions.  I’m trying to figure out how to answer them.  I think I know that I should do strength training, and I suspect I should see a doctor.  I don’t want a doctor to be over-conservative and say “oh, don’t exercise if it hurts.”

I am unhappy.  I don’t want to have my body fall apart.  Apparently “fit by 40” was too late.

Well, not really too late, because I’m not giving up.  I’m going to work through this.

 

 

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4 comments

  1. Some thoughts from who has carried some ‘happily married’ weight for a number of years but it happily watching it disappear over the last few months (not done yet, but heading in the right direction very comfortably and easily)….

    1. Walking is good. In terms of calories, walking/running are similarly efficient for a given distance, so the real difference is time. You run, you use more calories in a given time. In terms of fitness, a fast walk is fairly good at improving fitness. Given the issues that come with running when carrying any excess weight, fast walking is a safer idea.

    2. Swimming. You can be hundreds and hundreds of pounds and swim. The water is everyone’s friend in this regard. Swimming laps at a pool might be boring, but it’s both calories and aerobic fitness combined. Yay.

    3. Diet. For me, the recent separation and the stress leading up to it was a factor in my diet changing and me being less interested in food. In additiona, my lifestyle changed — so busy with looking after 3 kids, there isn’t enough time to snack between meals…or always have meals. So a small change in lifestyle can help with cutting out the extra snacks that add up over time.

    4. Scales. No, I don’t think YOU have scales. I am talking about weighing scales. First and foremost, get a decent set of scales and weigh yourself every morning (after your ablutions, before breakfast) to get the most consistent day-to-day comparisons. Seeing the number drop over time is so rewarding, it gives extra motivation the next time you pick between places to eat or whether or not to do some exercise that day or what to pick from the fridge for dinner.

    5. Friends. I think you are absolutely doing the right thing by partnering up. Having a friend say, “Get your butt out with me; I’m not doing this alone” is very helpful as it works well when only one of you has lost motivation (a common thing).

    Finally, be really careful. Our aging bodies take more time to recover and extra pounds multiply stresses on joints. Gentle and easy is less painful, still productive, and easier to maintain.

    Good luck!!


    • Darn it. I should proof-read more carefully; one could easily think I can’t spell!!


  2. A friend of mine in the age and fitness range you describe recently lost a ton of weight through Zumba. Not sure that’s your thing (or mine) but her weight loss has really been impressive so just throwing it out there.


  3. […] we first started running together, I was overwhelmed by her faster pace.  I believe that my trying to dive in and keep up led to my back pain (first time ever, and […]



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