The Fear of Hurting

9 04 2012

And so begins week 16 of my journey to better health and wellness through a plant based diet and exercise. After not seeing the scale move at all two weeks ago, this past week I was able to lose three pounds which brings my total loss to over 59 pounds. Of course just after I posted last Monday about not losing any weight, the weight started flying off. I’ve noticed that every 10-15 pounds of weight loss, there is often a significant lull before my body starts dropping again. It’s like my body is adjusting.

This week I switched things up and I know that made a difference. In addition to walking and lifting weights, I added my first two days of the DDP Yoga program. I’m on track to do this workout 4-5 days a week. So far I will say this, I’m extremely happy with it. I’m not in great shape so it is definitely challenging. But its not so hard that it is impossible. It’s completely doable because there are alternate ways (modifications) for many of the exercises. These are offered depending on physical ability and skill level. The modifications definitely make it easier. Because I don’t want to feel like I’m cheating myself, I try to go all out though and don’t use the modifications as much as I probably should. I’m not sure if that is wise, but we will see what happens. I should be patient and just gradually build up to where I want to be. But like so many of us, I want my results and I want them now. I can definitely feel the burn afterwards; sometimes for hours or even into the next day. I never expected to get such a great workout from a program like this. I would have saved a lot of money on weights, had I started this program first.

Realistically, the mental component of this is the hardest part. Over the years, I’ve conditioned myself to avoid pain. Somewhere during football season of my senior year of high school, I became afraid of pain. I was tired of double sessions (day long practices at the start of the season during the heat of August). I was tired of running so much and being pushed to my limit. I remember it being very humid and feeling very tired and thirsty. I just started to get mentally weak and began looking for short cuts as the days went on. That is how it started and its been a slow descent ever since. At times I’m a wimp and that is something I don’t like about myself. It’s not easy to admit. Guys my size are supposed to be tough and I have been in the past. But somehow that gradually fell away. So that is something I will need to change. And it’s scary because I still fear pain. It’s crazy though and I’ll be the first one to tell you that I don’t know what exactly I’m afraid of. Its not like exercise is going to kill me…at least it probably won’t if it hasn’t done so already. Maybe 59 pounds ago, but probably not now.

I need to keep telling myself that this pain is truly only temporary. At some point it will end and out beyond it is where I will find success. But it’s hard to tell yourself that and actually believe it when you are in the midst of it.

For the yoga program I also had to take pictures of how I look and what my flexibility looks like so that I’ll have something to compare my progress to down the line. I hated that. Despite feeling so good about my weight loss so far, the pictures are terribly unflattering. I look at them and I really dislike what I see. I look at the pictures and think to myself, “I thought you’ve come farther than this”. So this is both depressing and motivating. The road is long and I do have much more to go.

The last two weeks have been a good reminder that sometimes it just takes time. Sometimes the weight is going to come off easier than at other times. I just have to remain steadfast. I didn’t put it on overnight and it’s not going to come off that way either. I just have to keep my head in the game. I have to stay focused and determined. As Eric Thomas said in the videos I posted yesterday, I have to want this as bad as I want to breathe. I cannot become complacent. 60 pounds is not enough. 120 pounds is not enough. I need to see this to the point of actual health and wellness. There is no end to it. It will take working at it every day. I can do this.

Enjoying the Burn

1 04 2012

After a 15+ year break from lifting weights, I’m finally  back.  Adjustable dumbbells in hand and an adjustable  weight bench being shipped as I type this.  Over the years, I have really missed lifting.  But lets face it, when you’re hauling over 400 pounds around each day, the last thing you want to do is pick up anything else heavy.  Now that I’ve begun to start losing weight, I definitely feel an increase of energy and my body wants to be more active.  It’s true what they say, a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  For a long time my body wanted to rest and without changing my diet and my mindset I could never have sustained any type of serious changes when it came to increasing my physical activity.

There are definitely times I falter.   My treadmill has become “the dreadmill”.  Even with built in cable TV, I detest the thing.  So you can imagine how happy I was after weeks of waiting when the dummbells finally arrived.  I then did a very, very stupid thing.  I began lifting with them like I had never taken all of those years off.  I essentially attempted to pick up where I left off.  And for the next 4-5 days, I could not straighten either of my arms.  Before lifting, I had a romantic notion of what muscle burn felt like but it ended up being something much different afterwards.  This was a painful reminder that it takes dedication AND PATIENCE to get where you want to be.

I’ve since dialed the workouts back a little.  Maybe not even back but rather i’ve dialed them “in”.  I’ve learned that lifting can be just as intense if we focus on isolating the muscles we are working on.  Squeezing the muscle before and at the end of the rep and keeping that tension throughout the rep can be as effective as doing multiple sets of less controlled lifting.  In fact, from my experience it is more effective.

Frequency of reps is not more important than quality of reps. I still get an awesome burn.  I’m just not spending the better part of a week recovering.

I’ve also relearned something that I must have forgotten – that when reaching the point of muscle failure, simple tasks like drinking a glass of water can be challenging.  When you cannot bring a glass of water fully to your lips without it pouring out all over you = it is a sign of an intense workout.


Time Weights For No One

16 02 2012

Picked up the phone tonight and ordered a pair of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells.  It’s been 15 long years since I’ve seriously lifted weights but I’ve been wanting to begin again for some time now. I used to be really into weight lifting.  In my freshman year of college, I was able to bench press over 600 pounds (one time and only one time).  In high school, I leg pressed over 1000 pounds 31 times consecutively which was a record there.  There was a plaque on the wall in the school gym commemorating it. When I returned 7 years later, the record was still mine. The stupid things we do for glory. I didn’t walk right for days after that.

From 8th grade through sophomore year of college, I was constantly in the gym and I saw fantastic results come from my hard work.  But as college progressed, lifting was eventually replaced by partying and hanging out and I just lost the drive to drag my ass to the gym 5 days a week. A body at rest really does tend to stay at rest and so it has been.

I’m excited to get back to lifting. I don’t want to hulk up as much as I want to get cut. Cardio is boring me to tears and although I know it is very important, this will be a nice change. In a few months, I might take up swimming again as that is something I’m good at and enjoy doing. But for now, I’m going to really get an intense lifting regiment going. ‘

A friend sent me this next video and it really inspired me.  It really is the recipe for success.  In other facets of my life where I have seen success I recognize that this formula works. No matter if it is lifting weights, training for a race, excelling in a professional career or just being your very best self – the formula for making huge strides really is maximizing your performance in the limited time you have.  Time can be our greatest enemy if we don’t take advantage of it. If we use it wisely and recognize that time is fleeting, it can be our most powerful alley.  I hope this video inspires others the way it did me.  

What is your dream?  What is holding you back? Despite tons of excuses, I was the one holding myself back. I let a lot of time just slip away. That is going to change now.

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