Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy birthday, dear Square One

This blog is three today! *

It rather astonishes me that I, the most unmethodical person I know, have managed to keep doing anything for three years. Admittedly**, there have been some times when I've posted less frequently than others; there have also been times when the whole Fitness Enterprise has taken a back seat. But I haven't ever forgotten about it, or lost sight of the goal of being fitter and healthier even if I wasn't in a position to make a lot of progress.

This week seems like a good time to look back. I don't usually reflect earnestly on my own progress, but I am going to do so now. Be warned!

When I started doing this, I was fairly unfit. I walked quite a lot - slowly - but I thought of running as a thing I just couldn't do. Though I'd never lifted weights, I was fairly strong, but my cardiovascular fitness was not great. When J and I went for a walk, I would be labouring behind before too long, and if we climbed a hill he'd have to wait for me to catch up.

I don't mean to indicate that physically speaking I'd been a total slug all my life. I didn't enjoy sports at school, but I'd been in a dancing team and ridden horses, and at college I'd cycled all over the place and played in a women's football team. But I'd somehow done all these things while feeling fat and unfit. I was Not Sporty. That was how I defined myself.

I wasn't happy with this state of affairs.

I also wasn't very happy with the way I looked. Although I'd got over the episodes of angst about my body that I used to have as a teenager, and mostly come to accept the way I looked, I was fatter than I was comfortable with. When I was younger, I'd thought changing my level of fitness was impossibly daunting, and then later there were other things I was concentrating on (such as university). But in 2003 I'd started reading diet and fitness blogs, and began to realise it might not be so hopeless after all.

I'd been engaged for about six months, and I knew that if I wanted to lose weight before the wedding, I would have to get on with it. (I felt like a bad feminist for needing such a shallow reason to get started, but there we go.)

I joined a gym. It took me two months to work up the nerve. In the meantime, I got a pedometer and tried hard to get in - was it ten thousand steps a day? I think so. At the time, I had a job that required lots of walking back and forth to the photocopier, and if I got in a walk at lunchtime, that brought me up to the total. But although it was undoubtedly better than nothing, I needed to go up a gear.

To begin with, I only used the exercise bike and the Nautilus machines, which I'd been shown how to use. I was scared of all the other cardio machines: couldn't work out how to get into a rhythm with the elliptical; was scared of falling off the back of the treadmill and landing on my bottom with a thump. The Nautilus machines, however, were my friends. This was something I could do!

I also managed to start weighing myself, which I hadn't done in years and years. I still tend to behave slightly oddly towards the scales - I don't want to know what they say, and put off finding out, but once I weigh myself... it's just a number. Which was just as well, since it was (in this case) a rather higher number than I was expecting.

As you know, this isn't one of those dramatic weight loss stories. These days I weigh about sixteen pounds less than I did then. At my lowest (where I'm trying to get back to now) I could claim to have lost twenty. In the world of the fitness blog, this is very small potatoes.

On the other hand, I have lost at least ten percent of my body fat. I conquered my fear of the treadmill and learned to run. I also learned to brave the mostly-male arena that is the free weights area at the gym. My teenage self would be very surprised.

I also acquired some clothes with horizontal stripes and some skirts that stop above mid-calf, and that's something my teenage self would NEVER have believed.

Tune in later this week for further installments of this enthralling narrative!
While I'm at it, here's a little update on more recent events.

J has come off his anti-depressants with his psychiatrist's approval. They were not having any visible positive effect, just unwanted side-effects, including constant exhaustion.

Since he's stopped, he has, on the whole, felt better. He's been playing music, which he hasn't done much for about a year, and has been cycling and running again. He's been feeling very unfit because the pills made him too tired to exercise, and also made him hungry, which is not a good combination. Fortunately he's naturally slender, but it doesn't do a lot for the self-esteem.

There was a temporary bad patch at the weekend, but this week things have been much better. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I have been very busy trying to catch up with the academic work I missed while I was ill. Hence the radio silence this week, and there will probably be a small hiatus after I finish my birthday-week posts. However, during April I will have some time off from academia, and I have some plans... watch this space.

*It is also Pi Day. In celebration we had pies for tea tonight. (Actually, it was not in celebration but a total coincidence. The pies were Linda McCartney vegetarian ones; they're quite good.)

**If I don't admit it, I know
Isabelle will point it out :)


Rosemary Grace said...

Happy Birthday blog!

Hey, 16lb lower three years later is great! Especially combined with having lost fears of knee length skirts, horizontal stripes and sweaty masculine spaces.

I can now claim that I started the pi shawl this week in honour of pi day.

Loth said...

Happy Birthday K! Three years is an achievement in anyone's book. And your description of yourself, or rather your perception of yourself, before you started running sounds very familiar to me. My first foray into blogland was (and still is) a mini-blog on a fitness website which is called "Embarassed on the Corner Treadmill". But now we are runners! (We must try to get together for a wee run sometime!!)

Shauna said...

three years sure went quick... you've come a long way baby! :)

Isabelle said...

Happy third birthday, darling daughter. I'm so proud of you. I mean, I was so proud of you before, but I'm even prouder now, with reasons that have nothing to do with what weight you are.

Stomper Girl said...

Happy 3rd blog birthday, K. I think your round-up is very positive, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't recommend you take up dancing as a fun form of exercise if you ever get bored with the running (bleah!).

I enjoyed your LOM comments on Pea Soup, and can only cross my fingers that they don't make us wait too long for the sequel. I've developed quite a thing for Gene Hunt! When they started calling him a cancer in the second last episode I got quite insulted and bothered!