Friday, January 12, 2007

The Ten Day Wall

Last night, I did my day ten workout in Body for Life. Hopefully, this is a good sign for my eventual success.

I mentioned the "New Year's Resolutionists" in my last post, referring to the vast crowd that begins and exercise program on January 2nd. Well, I don't have official numbers to back any of this up, but there are three critical milestones in a New Year's workout plan. There is a whole crowd that drops out after one workout. Yes, I'm not kidding. One. They frantically re-arrange their schedule, maybe even shell out the big bucks on a contract at a gym, go one time, and quit. There is a subset of this group that gets a treadmill or elliptical for Christmas and sets it up in the main room of the house, maybe right in front of the television. This new exercise wonder gets used once or twice. Then a week goes by. Then a month goes by. And something gets stacked on top of it, or it gets moved to a corner. Within a year, it's in the basement, or the garage, or is being used as a planter.

Then there's the one week crowd. They start on Tuesday after New Year's day. They make it to the next Tuesday. They've worked out hard for an entire week. They get on the scale for the one week weigh in. They must have lost ten pounds, maybe fifteen. They look down at the display. Zero. Nada. Niente. "This exercise stuff is bogus," they mutter as they shove their new elliptical in the corner of the garage next to last year's treadmill and the ten year old exercise bike that's being used as a planter.

So, if one makes it past the one week barrier, what could possibly stand in one's way. How about the ten day wall. "But, we've made it through a week," you say, wringing your hands with anxiety. "Why would we quit at ten days?" I didn't invent the human Psyche
, I just observe it. So what is it about ten? Does the extra digit intimidate us? Is it our inherent need to fit everything into the base ten numbering system (even though the natural world and virtual world alike all run in binary)? Who knows? All I know is that by January 12th, most of the New Year's Resolutionists have fallen on the swords of their good intentions and have been carried from the battlefield, to be seen no more (at least until January 2nd of next year).

But I'm now past day ten and I'm darn close to the all-important twelth workout. Psychologists have determined that it takes an average of twelve repetitions of an action for the human mind to form a habit around it. So, at twelve workouts, you've hurdled past the ten day wall and you've reached the point where exercise is something of a habit. And it's clear sailing until the one month moat. Just kidding, although the inimitable Skwigg (check out her blog on fitness and general madness) refers to something known as the "four week freakout".

So, for the record, my last weigh in, on Tuesday, showed that I had lost a pound. This isn't statistically significant (yet), but at least the trend is in the right direction. I feel more energetic, although I did sneak in a short nap after work last night. I finished my week one video diary. I don't have a link to it yet. I shot some video clips for week two, which I plan to assemble into a coherent something-or-other over the weekend.

I had a good workout last night. I even surprised myself by going up in weight on some things I didn't expect to. More later. Ciao.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

From Summer into Fall into Winter

Well, it's been some time since I wrote. A surprisingly long time, actually. In fact, I really don't know where to start. How about last Summer? Yeah, that's as good a place as any.

Well, this past Summer, Cheryl decided she wanted to make another attempt at a century ride. If you don't know what I'm talking about, its a hundred miles on a bicycle. She and I attempted one a long time ago and, due to screaming headwinds (20 mph, gusting to 30 mph), we quit at the halfway point. Cheryl's always been unhappy about not finishing. So, there was one in September of this year. We trained for it, mostly on the weekends, since I was in a play that rehearsed every weeknight. Another result of my rehearsal schedule was that I didn't get in much exercise during the week and I wasn't eating right.

Now, a year previously, I rode in the MS150, which is a 150 mile bike ride over two days. I finished that without killing myself. In fact, I felt like it wasn't that hard at all. Of course, that was a month and a half after my first Body for Life Challenge, so I was in great shape and weighed in at 171 pounds. Going into this century ride, I was not in such great shape and I weighed in at around 180 pounds.

But we did it anyway. And we finished. There was a point at about 80 miles when I was pretty sure I wanted nothing more than to quit, but Cheryl was determined to finish and I couldn't bear to let her down. So I led the way over the last 20 miles, basically moving forward on determination alone.

Well, I got involved in another play, which turned out to be more stressful than any I'd done in a long time. I started eating the wrong things in the wrong quantities and collapsing on the couch every day after work. When the play was over, the holidays started and I went a little crazy with food and sweets. So, the day after Christmas, realizing that my belt was feeling tighter than it should, I got on the scale.

I was at 188 pounds. This was only one pound lighter than I weighed before I started Body for Life. Now, I'm hopeful that more than a little of that is muscle instead of fat, but I can tell that a lot of it is right around my waistline.

So, I've joined the ranks of the new year's resolutionists. You know what I mean, right? Just go to a gym on January 2 and you'll be lucky to get in the door. Everyone starts a new diet or exercise program on January 2. And most of them are gone by January 10.

Me, I stocked back up on nutrition bars, started cutting back on all the things I'd been bingeing on, and started the Body for Life program for the fifth time. Of those five starts, I only have one finish so far. But I don't want to go through life looking and feeling the way I do at 188 pounds.

So, I'm one week into the program. I have six workouts, three with weights and three aerobic, behind me already. I also got in some running and walking thanks to some great out of season weather. I have eleven more to go. So we'll see what happens.

I'm attempting to keep a video journal of the experience to let people follow along, but I'm having a devil of a time editing it with Microsoft Movie Maker (horrible, horrible software package, but free). If and when I get that posted, I'll add a link to it.

Well, I'm supposed to do lower body tonight. I hate lower body, but at least it's short. Gotta run. More soon.