My health is improving. That feels good to say—not least because I feel like my state of mind is keeping pace with the metrics. I was going to write this up as a tongue and cheek homage to previous entries but it just doesn’t feel funny.
I started working on living better in mid 2013. There have been a lot of ups and downs since then. In the beginning, when the process of diet and exercise was new and shiny, the pounds rolled off with ease. Gradually the momentum slowed—largely due to injury and flagging motivation. This year has been good to me in that I’ve never entirely lost sight of the goal; but it hasn’t been as much of a rousing success as I’d like either. Going to the gym has been nice in that three days a week of intense exercise lets me feel like I’ve accomplished something without driving me into the doctor’s office.
The day before thanks giving, the brunette and I had our first visit with our new doctor. Our previous Physician is great personally; but his office is difficult to work with. When he started keeping hours at different locations and was only available locally twice a week, we decided to make a change. Part of switching over is the inevitable physical. Since I started going to the gym, aprox 6 weeks, I’m down 9 pounds to 294 and my blood pressure was measured at 100 over 70 and 100 over 80. That’s the lowest it’s been since college where I usually checked in at 110 over 60. I’m waiting on the results from the blood work, but I can say that the elliptical and boxing class have helped a lot.
Regarding the gym, I have a routine. It goes like this:
Sunday: Upper body followed by as much elliptical time as I can squeeze in.
Tuesday: Boxing class with as much elliptical time as I can manage.
Thursday: Club workout followed by boxing drill and/or elliptical time.
Upper body days consist of Bench, military press, row/lateral pulls, chest, machine pull downs, chest pushes, dumbbell curls, and fly lifts. We usually do 3 sets of anywhere from 10-15 reps depending on the exercise. This past Sunday I managed 3 sets of 10 reps at 155 pounds on bench. My personal best was 185 pounds back in college at sets of ten, so I’m pretty happy there. On the lateral rowing I’m moving 190 pounds in sets of 12 which, again, is pretty good. I’m stocky with short arms and legs. The result is that I struggle with military press where I’ve only been able to manage 65 pounds. You can tell I’ve let that group laps, I used to do sets at 135 pounds—but that’s something to work towards. Squish is a great partner. He’s a little stronger than me but I have a lot more muscle endurance. We compete and talk trash the entire time. That’s really the biggest benefit of working with a partner. You are always pushing to stay ahead or to pass the person you’re working with. It drives you to improve.
Boxing class is ruff. I have more than enough physical endurance. I do not have the muscular endurance required to keep going at full intensity with my arms for an hour. I can literally go for hours on the elliptical, but my arms are used to doing small jobs all day or single large jobs in a short period of time. Punching the heavy bag for an hour is exhausting. Even so, I’m improving. It’s slow, but my punches have better form. I can keep my flurries going throughout the session. I run out of juice for the hooks and uppercuts after 30 minutes, but the act of punching doesn’t lay me out any more—I just have to go slower towards the end. I like boxing class specifically because I’m not very good at it right now. I like challenges. Learning form, working on intensity, and building muscle memory is rewarding work.
My club work out is also ruff, but that’s cause I’ve stepped up to the ten pound clubs as of last week. Like boxing, I’m going to have to build myself up to a better place, but I’ll get there. I have a schedule, a plan, and a friend to keep me honest. The nice thing about the clubs and the boxing class is that they are full body workouts. I walk out of those sessions knowing I’ve done more than upper or lower or cardio—I’ve made my body work completely. It’s a good feeling.
The elliptical is really fantastic. I wasn’t a big fan initially—I did most of my cardio in college on a treadmill. It feels weird in the beginning. You aren’t lifting your legs as far as with running so it can feel like the machine is holding you back. The low impact factor means I can go for a long time without my knees giving out. The back and forth with the arms gets rid of the hanging on for dear life affect you get with some treadmills. My personal best is an hour and 20 minutes a couple weeks ago. I’m averaging 6 miles an hour with a pulse around 150. According to the machine I end up covering at least 3 miles every 30 minutes. My pulse has been on the decline—a sure sign that my endurance is increasing.
Good exercising is a mix of the intense short term effort in the boxing class and the longer endurance training of the elliptical. The upper body work out builds muscle groups while the clubs build functional strength and grace. I have biceps I can feel. I have numbers that I can be proud of. I’m having fun. There’s still a long way to go, especially with diet. For now though, I’m happy with progress.