Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adjusting to my New Exercise Regime

I’ve gained weight, which wasn’t surprising. None the less, it was disappointing. I was right at my target weight and it slipped away. No matter. I’m still within healthy BMI status, and I’m confident that I’ll get out of this recent binging bend. Another thing that also contributed to my recent gain was that I’ve been slacking with exercise. A part of it is because I had fallen out of it from my exercise hiatus due to illness. Then right after I recovered I had a bout of Achilles tendonitis, so I had to rearrange my routine to accommodate for that. The other part is because I’ve changed my exercise regime in general, and with every change there’s always that awkward adjustment period.

The first change actually occurred over a month ago. I decided to change aerobic exercise from 5 days to 3-5 days a week. Before, it HAD to be 5 days a week with NO excuses (except sickness or injury that is). I had decided this exercise regime in the beginning of my weight loss efforts, when losing weight was the ABSOLUTE priority. Now that I reached a healthy BMI, it doesn’t feel like such a priority anymore. The books have said that 3-5 days was what was necessary, so I decided to ABSOLUTELY do aerobic exercise 3 days a week with an optional two more days if time allowed. It felt uncomfortable doing this. I was afraid that allowing myself to exercise so little would cause me to fall out of it, but I don’t think it was the case.

The second change was my letting go of the weight machines. Much to my surprise, I recently discovered that they were NOT safer than free weights and bodyweight exercises. Go figure.

Letting go of these machines, however, has been a challenge. I found myself lost in the gym, when before I felt like an expert. I had mused to myself when personal trainers offered their services. I mean, come on, the instructions were right on the machines. Now, I’m not so sure. I went into the free weight room this weekend for the first time, and there were no instructions. Just a bunch of benches in different shapes, dumbbells, and barbells. I was stupid enough to go in there with no plan. I thought that I can make my own routine with the wealth of knowledge I had accumulated through different group exercise and DVD instructors. No such luck. For one, the lowest weight was 8 lbs. The most I’ve ever used and that all the instructors always recommended was 5-lb weights. There were barbells, but I’ve only ever tried them once before with guidance. I was concerned with hurting myself. I was also concerned with looking like a total idiot. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing, and I felt strangely watched. However, it could have also been because I was one of three girls in what I deem as No Woman’s Land. No matter I was determined to utilize what I believed was my right, so I ignored my feelings of intimidation and trudged on. I did two exercises in No Woman’s Land. The rest, I scurried back to Weight Machine Land. Not because of intimation, mind you, but because of plainly not knowing what to do. That evening I used Women's Strength Training Anatomy and exrx.net and I created a routine that I plan to use next time.

The last change I’ve made have been the hardest to implement simply because I'm having difficulty remembering to do it. I’ve decided to stretch my calves and hamstrings every day. Because my calves are extra tight, I’m prone to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. My recent bout of Achilles tendonitis had puzzled me because it came on when I wasn’t doing any high impact exercises at all. I realized later that I only stretch after a workout and being on exercise hiatus has also kept me from my stretching routine. This was when I decided to stretch my calves every day. I decided to also stretch my hamstrings while I’m at it. Even though they haven’t given me any problems, they are also extra tight and I’ve heard that extra tight hamstrings can result in back injures. The only problem now is figuring out a good time to do them.


Sinnasue said...

Hey! It is bound to happen, the only thing we can do is go on with what we are doing. I rather take a slow and steady weight loss as it is much more easier to maintain. Good luck!

Marshmallow said...

Hmmm... I'd take the weights machines advice with a grain of salt. Yes, there is a risk of overloading when using weights machines, but that same risk exists when using free weights. Also, as someone rightly pointed out in the comments, it's rare to see someone squatting or deadlifting correctly - meanwhile using the machines puts your body into a better position form-wise; albeit at a compromise to workout efficiency (as in, you'll need to do an extra set or two to make up for the lack of stabilising benfits). I wouldn't write off the weights machines just yet, especially with the achilles tendonitis!

It is incredibly overwhelming going in there without a plan - and if you're going to do weights, I highly recommend standing near any mirrors so that you can keep an eye on your form - if you can't see yourself doing the exercise, then you're better off on a machine.

And yes, tight hamstrings can cause lower back problems. I stretch my hamstrings regularly when I... *looks left*... *looks right*... go to the toilet. Seriously.

Salma Gundi said...

Stretching every day is such a good idea. I need to do that - but it hasn't moved from my need to do list over to my going to do list.

TrixieBelden said...

"no woman's land" - i loved it! seriously, i give you credit for trying something new, but having a plan and some structure is always helpful and makes me calmer and saner when I try new things.

I fear no one’s opinion! I am knowledgeable, focused, and efficient. I make this priority and build from experience. I do this for my children and myself. Supported by love, I will persevere.