Friday, October 16, 2009

#154 Returning to the Gym After a Loooong Hiatus

WeightBody FatBP
39442.8%148 / 95

I'm not all the way back to where I was before I started working out in 2008. Just most of the way. I'm not really discouraged because I'm not really surprised. I knew I wasn't getting the exercise I needed, and I watched every bite of food as it went in. The truth is, I was so depressed most of the time that I didn't care if I gained weight and lost strength or not. Well I've spent some quality time with the headshrinkers and it turns out that yes, I do care. I lived healthy once, and saw the results of that change. I can do it again.

I am making some changes in my approach.
this time. I will be keeping my workouts much simpler and more intense. I want to burn off some of this fat in a hurry, and the way to do that is through frequency, intensity, and nutrition.

I am not going to get as involved in all those numbers that I love so well. Less time crunching data and more time crunching abs. I'll still update the "Tale of the Tape" periodically, but mostly I'll be tracking the three metrics above. Weight is easy to understand and to measure. Body Fat Percentage is also easy, and I think it's an important qualifier for body weight. Lots of athletes are classified obese even though they have very low body fat. Clearly that is not the case with me right now. But one day...

The last and scariest number is the one I've not tracked in the past: Blood Pressure. That's become important since my recent career struggles. I have taken a stab at several jobs, even tried to start my own business, but have not seen a steady paycheck for 14 months now. The combined stress of unemployement and poor job matches left me very depressed and hypertensive for the first time in my life. We are controlling it with medication for the time being, but I would rather do so with aerobic exercise if I can. I'll be hitting the cardio hard, but with care to be sure I am improving without having a stroke on the step climber.

My initial workouts are very gentle and low impact. The biggest difference I've noticed, besides my weight, is the weakness in my legs and butt. Squats are a real effort, and a lunge is not a realistic possibility. I'll be building leg strength in some other ways until the weight and joints are ready for those big lifts again. More on lower body later.

My cardio workout is 30 minutes on the treadmill in a very strict run/walk rhythm. I set the belt at what feels like a comfortably brisk walk to me, then alternate walking and jogging every 60 seconds, changing my gait without changing speeds. That allows me to get my heart rate up and a good sweat going, more than I could have with a faster walk. I am also able to go much farther than if I had been running or walking full speed the entire time.

Resistance training is also light; just upper body work with a blue band clipped to the wall. Push/Pull/Twist - Standing Chest Press, Standing Row, Woodchopper Right, Wood chopper Left. 50 reps each without rest between. That keeps my heart rate up and got a real burn started in my arms and obliques.

I'm also doing some things at home to work on the lower body strength. We've been moving furniture and boxes from the second floor to the basement. That's a lot of trips up and down stairs. I am being very deliberate in the way I lift and carry things. I don't want to hurt my back, and I want to practice my form so my body remembers how to lift heavy iron as well as liquor boxes full of old paperbacks.

All in all, it's good to be Pennsy today. My mental health is as good as it has ever been, I'm turning my body back in the right direction, and career prospects seem just over the horizon. I just have to keep working in the right directions.


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