Yup, I Actually Did It: I Went to the Gym Yesterday

Yesterday afternoon, I did something I haven’t done in about 15 years: I went to the gym and worked out. Why? It was time (well, if I’m honest with myself, it was past time). I’m 6 foot 2 inches – when I stopped gaining height in high school I was about 160 pounds. When I finished college I was about 185 pounds, and stayed there for a few years. In my mid 20s though I started to gain weight through the typical combination of getting less exercise, eating a bit worse, and the slower metabolism of getting older. In high school and college you get some exercise from carrying heavy books from one class to another. When you’re self-employed and sitting on your butt all day in a home office, the most exercise you tend to get is moving from the office to the fridge and back again. When I hit 200 pounds I thought “Wow, this isn’t good”, but I didn’t do of anything much about it.

Sure, there were attempts at altering my diet, eliminating sugar, eliminating carbs (I did the Atkins diet), etc. I tried dieting alongside Ashley off and on for a couple of years, but nothing really stuck (due to my own lack of self control) and I continued to shift between 200 and 220 pounds (I think at my heaviest I was up to 225). A couple of years ago Ashley starting going to the gym, and I saw something interesting happen. There wasn’t much change at first, but when she started working with a personal trainer, she toned up, lost some weight, and looks a lot like one of those women you see on the cover of Oxygen Magazine (though I keep asking her not to work out so much that she gets arms bigger than mine! ;-)).

But back to me…for the past year or so I’ve been stuck at 215 pounds and that’s at least 30 pounds heavier than I should be. I’ve tried to control my diet, but I love food too much! So when you can’t live on lettuce and rice crackers (calorie input), you need to work on the other end of the equation (calorie output) and burn calories the old fashioned way: working hard. I’m still going to tighten up my eating patterns, mostly by eliminating sugar wherever possible, but it’s gym time.

Yesterday I spent about an hour in the gym, mostly working on my cardio – because without cardio, you’ve got nothing. How bad is my cardio? If I go from our bonus room (2nd floor of our house) down to my basement and back up again, I’ll be panting and it will take a good five minutes for my heart rate to go down to normal. That’s…pathetic. So, not surprisingly, my cardio was pretty bad at the gym. I did 10 minutes on the treadmill, then five minutes on a stationary bike, then another 15 minutes on the treadmill. The treadmill had measurements for my heart rate, which felt like it was going to explode out of my chest at certain moments, but it was kept between 160 and 185 for all of my cardio workout. I then did some work on the weight machines, mostly getting motion in muscles that don’t get worked very often.

Tomorrow morning I head back to the gym – I’m going to go three times a week for the first two weeks, then try to ramp up to going every week day like Ashley does. I’m writing this to act as an encouragement to others who might be in the same boat as me, and also to make a commitment (in public) to getting in shape over the next few months. My short term goal is to make it down to 200 pounds by the time we leave for our vacation to Japan, which is the third week of March. It should be do-able…I just need to do it!