Monday, August 13, 2007

Checking in and Catching up

OK, I totally forgot to weigh in on Sunday or today. I think I’ll just scratch it for the week and get back on schedule next Sunday.

Last week, though, was a good week for New Body Experiences. I went to the gym twice to work out, which makes me feel like a rock star, if a rotund and easily winded one. The first time I used the elliptical machine for 27 minutes and the second time I lasted for an even 30. I have a ton of questions about things, like how to cool down afterward, what kind of stretches are good, etc. So I think it’s time to use my complimentary personal trainer sessions, which perhaps I’ll do in the coming week. Here’s the weird thing for me about this whole experience: while I’m actually exercising, I HATE it. I feel icky and clumsy and puffy. But afterward I kind of look forward to going again. Crazy! Some of it is just the novelty of the experience, the fact that the gym I chose is kind of swanky, etc. But I’m hoping to get to a point where I actually crave the exercise itself and miss it when I don’t do it. I’ve been at that point at other times in my life, and it’s great. Well, we’ll see.

The other thing I got to do was try Tai Chi. In my new job, I’ll be co-facilitating a relaxation group for vets recently back from Iraq, and my co-facilitator is a nurse who does a lot of meditation and martial arts. I sat in on one of his groups last week, and he was teaching Tai Chi. It was interesting and made me think that I might like to take a class in it. I’m finding that it’s kind of fun to experiment with moving my body in different ways, even if those ways feel odd and ungainly.

And in other, non-body related news, I am finishing up my post-doc this week, with many sad goodbyes, even though I’ll just be in another part of the hospital. I had my final Monday night dinner at the halfway house tonight, and they bought me a card and fixed lasagna in honor of my ethnicity. Cute, and kinda sad. I’ll miss those guys. I said goodbye this morning to a patient I’ve worked with for about a year now. She’s a 75 year old lady that has been processing some very difficult stuff from early in her life, and it’s been an intense working relationship. She said this morning that our parting was “like losing a little sister,” which just broke my heart. This is the hardest part of what I do. Even when there’s great satisfaction in what you’ve helped someone accomplish, the ending can be so, so hard. It’s going to be an emotional week, and a food-laden week, too. I just don’t feel like watching myself and worrying about what I consume, and I’m not sure I’d have the resources for it if I did. I’m just going to be in the moment and see what comes this week. After that…we’ll just have to see.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Luna Joins Up

Woo-hoo! Get ready to be proud of me…I joined a gym tonight. I agreed to go with my friend who is already a member, just so I could check it out a little bit. She assured me that it’s a friendly, low-key place, with lots of awkward and un-fit people of all ages and sizes, and that I’d feel perfectly comfortable. I was skeptical.

But you know, she was right. The membership woman who showed us around was young and friendly, and she had hips and thighs big enough to make me feel sort of happy and un-judged. My friend went and got down to business on an elliptical machine, and I just decided to get over myself and join. My fee includes most classes, including pilates and water aerobics (Thanks, *S*!), which are two classes I’m particularly interested in. It also includes three sessions with a personal trainer, which I definitely plan to use. But for tonight, I got signed up, got my complimentary newbie bottle of water and went over to join my friend on the elliptical next to hers. I didn’t know how to set it, so I just hit the ‘fat burning’ button and keyed in my age, and it told me my target heart rate and then kept track of it for me while I was using the machine. Each machine has its own little TV screen, complete with cable TV, but I quickly found out that I do better with music than TV. So I got to trudging away, and I’m surprised to say that I was able to do 27 minutes on it! Now, I at many points had to go so slowly that I got a message saying “workout paused,” but whatever. It’s a start, and yay me for taking my supa-brave self out for something new and different.

I was a little intimidated by the personal trainers I saw wandering around, particularly the guys. Some of them were huge and muscular and scary looking, but they have a couple of women as well. So, when I book my three sessions, I’ll have to ask for someone that does not look like an Olympian.

I find myself surprised that I’m a little excited and optimistic about this. It feels like a nice way to start reclaiming my life and my body after the multi-year avalanche of poor health-habits that was graduate school. I spent a long time getting my brain all fit, and now it’s time to work on the stuff from the ears down. I just have to remember to be patient with myself when it takes just as long.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fitness Comes a-Callin'

The world is telling me it’s time to stop avoiding exercise.

First, there’s my new job, which comes complete with a fitness-fanatic partner named Andy. Andy’s a nurse and Army vet, and he’s very much into yoga, meditation, hiking, etc. He’s also a devoted stair-climber. My office, which I will be sharing with Active Andy, is on the 8th floor. Andy has promised me that he will turn me into a stair climber yet…and I told him that I would give it my best shot. Now, you may remember that one of my mini-goals was to start taking the stairs at work, and I’m kinda proud to say that I’ve been doing that. However, I never have to go higher than the 3rd floor, so it’s not really that big an accomplishment. But I do it. I have to admit, the thought of climbing to the 8th floor has me most intimidated, but I’m thinking that maybe Andy will help me come up with some kind of training program. Seriously, if I try to climb to the 8th floor now, my heart will burst and I’ll keel over dead on a landing somewhere between 3 and 5.

The second thing is my very good friend J, whose life has been full of stress in the last several months. I got an email from her this weekend (I was out of town—normally we just talk on the phone or in person), and she said that she’d been sitting on her couch all weekend, eating cookies and watching movies, and she felt crappy. She said that it was time for a change, and she invited me to join a gym with her. J has been a fit and active person in the past, but she broke her wrist badly late this winter, and it has not been healing well, despite surgery and lots of PT. She loves biking, but her wrist can no longer support her weight on a bike, so she hasn’t been doing much exercise at all. This injury, coupled with a lot of work stress, has gotten her to a point of feeling pretty depressed. Her invitation to work out together is great for me: I get to feel like I’m supporting her, and she gets to support me in my goal of learning to exercise too.

And that’s what it feels like: learning to exercise. I have always felt like the biggest, lamest loser when it comes to anything that involves moving my body around. I feel clumsy, sweaty, wheezy…just icky in every way. I’ve never learned to experience fatigue as a good thing; to me, it just reminds me that I’m fat, I’m asthmatic and I’m unfit. The asthma has definitely been a big influence here. I’ve had it since I was three, and it’s induced by allergies as well as by exercise. So all throughout my childhood, when I would run or bike or otherwise exert myself, I would have an asthma attack. We had to run every day in gym class, and I never seemed to get any fitter, though I’d run like the other kids did (though slower). Over time, I began to believe that I just couldn’t do it, especially when I didn’t perceive any improvement, and exercise made me feel sick.

So now I need to remind myself that it’s OK to huff and puff. Breathing hard is not the same as having an asthma attack. It’s OK to get sweaty and tired, because that means I’m doing something good for myself. Feeling weak and clumsy is OK, because everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where I’m starting.

Wish me luck!

(Oh, and I know…I didn’t weigh in this week. I was out of town visiting with family, and I didn’t get back until late Sunday night. I ate like a big, hungry pig all weekend, so I doubt the news is good, anyway. Next week, though. Promise.)