Monday, November 2, 2009

Where's the fun, man? Part 1 of 2

I've mentioned before on this tripe of a blog that I am nearly immune to procrastination. I am quite possibly one of the most accomplished average people I know. I'm no Maya Lin or Mahatma Gandhi or Bill Gates, to be sure, but I just have a great deal of focus and drive and git-er-doneness, for lack of a better phrase. (I guess "follow-through" would be a better phrase, so I don't actually lack the word, huh?) Whether it's homework or housework, phone calls or billpaying, I make like Nike and Just Do It. (Mom: Have I always been this annoying?) This follow-through and discipline has extended to every corner of my existence. I do the code study because it's tough and rigorous; I make the phone calls to the person that no one wants to talk to because I can eventually get them to understand what we're trying to do on the project; I clean the house while doing my laundry because the mess bothers me before it bothers anyone else around here; I eat several servings of fruits and veggies a day and exercise every morning so that I can indulge in the occasional (or even daily) brownie or cookie.

It's the workout that can be a grind. Every morning, 6am: out of bed, workout gear and shoes on, on the treadmill or lifting weights and doing something pretty rigorous for about 40 or so minutes a day, six mornings a week. Did I mention I've been working out every morning for about eight years now? Yeah. I'm in good shape to be sure, but sometimes it's painful in two ways. The first source of pain is obvious--knees that have seen hundreds of miles of outdoor runs beg for the elliptical and some ice, the shoulders and lats that complain when I pull on a jacket and ask if it was really necessary to do three sets of 80-lb pulldowns in the weight room yesterday, and the ankles that cringed this afternoon during a somewhat leisurely trip to Sam's Club to pick up some more bulk supplies. The ankls asked, "Do you remember all the standing we did at the party on Friday night? Yeah, we're still kinda in pain from that. Knock that off, sister."

But it's the second type of pain that wears on you to the point of wanting to climb up in a bell tower and shoot at Spinning instructors with a high-powered rifle and scope. It's the drive in me, the taskmaster that says if you sleep in once you'll sleep in again and again and the next thing you know your ass and gut will be the size of Montana and you know what that does to your blood pressure and cholesterol and Guy deserves a much more attractive wife than that don't you think and God forbid you be heavy and unhealthy and lazy. LAZY!!! So I drag out of bed with aching abductor muscles and wincing erector spinae and stumble into the bathroom and pull on my gear and go. Again.

As I came up on my eighth year of continuous workouts, Vinnie saluted me with a highball at our favorite watering hole. "You know," he uttered, "given your Slavic genes and your height, it's a miracle that you've kept the weight off as long as you have. You're fighting against not just human biology, but genetic biology." True enough, my Polish genes would love to keep my middle thick as pudding on my 5'-0" frame, and I refuse to allow that to happen. But as hard as I work, even at the age of 34 I can feel my body occasionally rebelling, with the aching joints and tendons and muscles, and the rebellions seem to happen more and more often. I'm trying to get more out of each workout (can I get five or six moves that work my whole body in under 30 minutes?), but it seems sometimes like my body doesn't want any of it.

Support for my sort of problem is actually spotty, despite the plethora of fitness and women's health magazines out there. I've subscribed to Shape for a while now, and I've come to realize over the past four or so years that many of the workouts--especially the cardio ones--aren't nearly as tough as what I do on a regular basis. I can incorporate some of the weight moves that they show, but I have to increase the weight they use by at least three pounds per arm. The models demonstrating the moves are slightly meatier versions of magazine models--maybe they're a size 2 or 4 instead of a 0. On the other end of the scale is Muscle & Fitness Hers. I flipped through one of their issues in the airport recently, and while the moves and workouts looked pretty good, the models demonstrating them were downright horrifying, with their super-lumpy muscles and equally-overdone-and-freakish makeup and hair. One major article in that issue profiled some fitness and bikini competition in which many of the competitors looked grotesque. (I don't have a better word for it than grotesque; I really don't.) So what these magazines are telling me, evidently, is that women who are truly interested in peak performance and being really strong and in shape cannot also be into makeup or good food or other types of health news. If I'm really into being strong, says Muscle & Fitness Hers, I have to be a man with lipstick and tits, and the only other articles allowed in my 'zines discuss the value of creatine, a two-page spread of "health news", and a four page ad-that-looks-like-an-article from a supplement maker. Count me out.

So last night as we were relaxing after our trip, Guy and I somehow got on the weight discussion. "So what's my cap, cutie?" I asked Guy. "How high can I go before you get worried?"

Guy: What's the highest you've ever been?
Pixie:140. That was my peak in high school, and that's what I was in the fall of '01. [pause] And you didn't seem to be horrified. I was still gettin' laid twice a week, and I'm only gettin' it once a week now.
Guy: Tuh! I'm married, now!" Guy returned. "We gotta do this for 40 years, I'm gonna ration it!
Pixie: [chuckling] Whatever. So is 140 my cap?
Guy: I dunno...I think you could go 160 before I'd get worried.
Pixie: 160?! That's generous, honeybear! Can you imagine what I'd look like?
Guy: What are you now?
Pixie: 120-122, depending on time of day and month.
Guy: Well...[thoughtful pause] If one day when you're fifty you say, 'Guy, I want a piece of pizza,' I'm gonna say, 'okay baby, you go ahead.'
Pixie: [laughing]
Guy: Well? I think you've earned it by that time. You do what you want.

So while I have Guy's blessing to girth it up at any time, I'm not ready to yet. But if I'm not giving up my workouts, how am I supposed to make them more tolerable? And maybe even less painful?

to be continued...


Robin said...

Do you ever do stuff like Pilates? That might be a nice alternative to the non cardio aspect of your workout.

BaxtersMum said...

some of us just plain give up.

it creates new pains - constant heart burn (thank you hiatal hernia) and sensitive systems. And achy joints too. cracking ankels, grinding knees. and a back that is a misery if I sleep wrong just once. And the snoring. Geeze. (I share too much? ha ha - why yes, I'm single? How did you know??)

I think its damned if you do, damned if you don't. But damn, you look good regardless, so I salute you, Pixie.

Me, I just gotta do something so my pony doesn't decide to upgrade to a smaller model.

LMH said...

Sounds like you're the one that would be bothered, not Guy. I'm also 5'0", and have chubby italian genes and am a really good cook. I'm at about 140 now, and my highest was 175 in high school. That's about a size 14 for me, and I don't want to go back there. I've been stuck here for a while (which is my adult low), despite three half marathons, swimming and yoga.

I think you are going to have to figure out what gives you the endorphins you need ( I need running ≥ 3x week) but allows you to still walk. Can you consult a doctor/exercise scientist that can help you figure out how to keep regular exercise going for the next 40 years? Are there small changes you can make?

Personally, I have decided that consistency is key, and that I want to have regular exercise and lots of veggies be a part of my life for the next 50 years. If that means I'll never be a size 4, so be it. I also won't be a size 14.

Good luck!

Wilderness Gina said...

Always focused? Yes. Always running around? Yes, even when ur three and REALLY wee.
I weigh more now than I did pregnant. Eh.... Being Eastern Europeen (hur) stinks. I can't imagine you at 160. II'm 4 inches taller and weigh 163 (+/-).
The guy who looks after my bad back yells at me when I talk of running. He said I could walk as much as I want but NO RUNNING. I can swim also. "Give your joints a break!" he said. I've done too many jobs that require standing on concrete, carrying weight besides my own fat ass, and climbing ladders. He said WALK. I can barely move since my hour long walk with Lucky on Monday. Too much? Yep.