Friday, November 20, 2009

Of Exercise

I don't write much about exercise because I don't do much of it. It's not that I hate it or don't want to do it, but rather that my body has been too hard to move and in too much pain during these initial phases of weight loss to do much. I want to exercise, but I really can't push myself too hard without being in pain or risking injury.

When I started out doing this in June or July of this year, I couldn't walk 5 minutes without sitting due to back pain and I also found I had to walk very slowly and felt like my heart was really pounding from the effort. My hips also ached rather badly within the first 10 minutes of walking. I've been walking at least 5 days a week and have now reached the point where I can walk 40 minutes without serious discomfort. I have almost reached the point where I walk out the door without fear of being in terrible pain if I can't find a place to sit and rest. If someone had told me 6 months ago that I'd be walking like I am now, I wouldn't have believed it. The progress hasn't been remarkable, but it has been a slow and steady improvement.

I have added in a little light weight lifting at this point to try and build strength and a little muscle mass. It's nothing too complex or sophisticated, but it really doesn't need to be. I bought a couple of plastic weights that can be filled with water at a dollar store. When full of water, they weigh about 2 lbs. each. I also have some wrist and ankle weights that I can add on later when I'm ready, but for now, I'm sticking with the 2 lb. weights which I do a range of motions with through about 20-25 reps in front of my computer. I have a friend who is a fitness instructor and he said less weight with more repetition is better for building strength.

I have a recumbent exercise bike and a treadmill at my disposal, but I can't really use either yet. The treadmill causes my back to hurt more than regular walking, and the bike is hard to use with my current body size. Last time I tried to use it several months ago, my hefty belly apron sat on my thighs such that I couldn't pedal for more than 3 minutes with that weight lying on my legs. I might be able to do it now that I've lost between 50-60 lbs., but I'm not sure yet. I'll probably give it another try sometime early next year when I want to step up my exercise. I'd like to try it again only when I'm more confidant that my gut isn't going to make it impossible. Failure is often worse than not trying when it comes to these things.

The next step for me is to try a DVD of dance-based aerobics designed for older people and people with arthritis. I don't know if it'll be possible, but I figure it'll be the next thing I can work slowly at accomplishing since the time when I can be outside simply walking is limited due to weather conditions.

The strange thing is that I'm actually wary of doing too much exercise for weight loss purposes because that was how I lost so much weight in college. I don't want to rely on burning up the calories to lose weight and prefer to focus on the food consumption control. If my life circumstances change, I may not be able to maintain an exercise routine, but I'll always be able to manage how much I eat.


dlamb said...

Though things may be different for you today, I admire your ability to consider all angles, which you applied during that time.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing like an injury, to ruin the rest of one's life and any joy a person may find in activity later on. Some of the greatest amounts of weight I have gained came about as a result of breaking my metatarsals. Although I was an athlete from the age of 5 until 16, walking was always my favorite activity and I've often done it for as long as 10 hrs. a day, with stops. This happened rarely, as my schedule did not allow what I considered to be a luxury.
I love walking more than anything else in this world (remember the topic about "thin feeling better than anything"? Well, to me walking does). I put on my books and I could be gone for hours! Related to your topic of this day, written so many years ago, I dread injury so much that at the first sign of a problem I know to stop. I do that for fear that I will not be able to do it the next day. I do it for my head and do not consider it "exercise", though I am sure it does not harm me.
I know numerous people who were runners who have had their knees and hips replaced and they are in agony. Would I suggest to anyone that our bodies were probably not intended to run on hard surfaces for hours and hours and what it does to our organs? No I would not. It is not my business and I figure that anyone who is that dedicated can do the research.

Weight training is great, especially for us women, but I also think that, as you did by consulting with a professional, it is good to have guidance in order to avoid injury.
Can't wait to see what you are doing today, but I will wait.

screaming fatgirl said...

I think I also learned about the injury aspects with both my knees and back. When my back starts to hurt in a certain way ("hurt" as opposed to "ache" from muscle use), I stop doing certain exercises and give it a rest. These are signs from the body and I'm too old to ignore them and hope to recover.

Like you, I really love to walk these days, and can do it for hours (though my overall stamina peters our after 3 hours, I have been known to walk around with rests fur up to 5 or so hours). I still don't exercise much for reasons much as I mentioned here, but also time is a factor. I only exercise as much as I feel I have the time to do for the rest of my life and have a full-time job. Though I don't have a full-time job now, I don't want to rely on a level of exercise which exceeds what is possible in the future.

By the way, do you have a blog that I can read? I can see your profile, but no link to a site of your own. Thanks!