2013-04-22

Small Changes

In anticipation of spending a week on the road with my employer, I set a goal on my Nike+ profile to run no less than four times per week, for two weeks straight! This isn't very ambitious for "normal-state Ryan," but for "iron-pumping Ryan," it is just the thing to get me re-focused on improving my cardiovascular ability.

There's only one problem: I left my Nike+ Sportwatch at home, which means even if I run seventeen times this week, my Nike+ page will be unable to give me any credit for the goal I've set. I guess this means I will have to give it another try next week, when I can actually get credit for it. That's the foible.

The success is my renewed commitment to twice-daily workouts. I had actually forgotten how easy it is to get up and work out first thing in the morning. Of course, the workout I do is the lesser/easier of my two workouts in the day. The point is not to destroy yourself with physical activity, but rather to simply increase your overall activity level. To that end, I started out somewhat small this morning:
  • 40 push-ups
  • 50 crunches
  • 10 jump-and-tucks
  • (Complete this super-set five times.)
I chose something do-able so that there wouldn't be any question in my mind that I could finish the workout. This is a bit of a mental trick we sometimes have to play on ourselves to squeeze out a little extra motivation when we need it. Tomorrow, I would like to do a bit more in the morning, but for now this was exactly what I needed, just a few core-strengthening moves to get the blood pumping and the ambition rolling.

The alternative would have been attempting to undertake a very difficult workout, like one of the great workouts from BodyBuilding.com, first thing in the morning. I'm not exactly sure how that would have jived with my blood sugar control, but more importantly, there was a high probability that I could not have made it through such a workout on the first day of two-a-days.

Hence, this morning's lesson: We have to meet ourselves where we are. If you're on a steady diet of cheeseburgers and sorrow, then you are not going to be able to deal well with a sudden, jarring metamorphosis into being a clean-eating, heavy-lifting super-human. Instead, you have to make changes on the margin, which will make you feel marginally better. These marginal changes, rather than discouraging you when you fail or causing you to undergo a complete lifestyle transformation, show you what differences you can make to your life if you simply choose to take things one step at a time. You get a few, good early victories under your belt, which leaves you hungry for the next set of accomplishments. You also avoid injury.

Going forward, my main challenge is going to be keeping the muscle mass I've built up during the first part of the year, while still adding to my exercise regimen. Cardiovascular exercise comes somewhat naturally to me, and is my go-to form of exercise when nothing else is available. That's great for my overall health needs, but not so great for my goal this year of building up my muscle mass. So I am going to have to keep my resistance training needs in mind at all times, or risk losing my progress. 

But it's all in good fun. We health nuts are endless tinkerers when it comes to our bodies and our health. One day we need more muscle, the next we need more core strength, and so on. You can't do all this in one cataclysmic act. You have to meet your body where it is today, and proceed with small changes.