Finding My Exercise ‘Dread Level’

As noted previously, I have embarked on an exercise program, and as is usual for me, I struck out rather blindly in the hope that I could conjure up something that works for me. I read a little – enough to be a danger to myself, and fumbled about to come up with something that vaguely resembles some sort of routine that real people who know what they are doing might appear to do.

There’s a name for this – it comes from NLP if I recall – ‘Neurolinguistic Programming’ – it’s called: ‘Act as if’. A very simplistic explanation for this is: if you don’t know how to do something, act like you do – most people won’t notice this difference anyway, as they probably don’t know what they’re doing either, and are too busy trying to hide the fact that they are clueless to notice that you are as well. (NLP is an absolute mess of concepts with some quality ideas at it’s core, that unfortunately hang around with some whack-job thinking and a lot of charlatans.)

So, slight digression aside, I’m making it up as I go along. And as my short-term goal of exercise is to exercise, it doesn’t really matter all that much what I’m doing at present. I’m working on the hardest part of any exercise regimen: getting my ass to the gym and following through with my routine.

Getting to the gym and ‘punching the clock’ is the goal here. 

While I’m there, I do try to push myself, and I read something at Mark’s Daily Apple (I think it was there) that left an impression on me: if you are not having fun, you are doing the wrong exercises.

Revolutionary – I never thought that exercise could be fun, but I have noticed that my 20 minutes on the treadmill every day, and 3 circuits through 4 machines: leg press, chest press, lat pulldown and vertical row – leave me feeling pretty OK in the morning.

There is something sensuous about the cold January air against the skin after the exercise and it feels good.

But I’ve been pushing myself a little harder each morning to go a little faster and steeper on the treadmill, and to add a 4th circuit to the weight lifting. 

The other day, I pushed up the speed to 3.8 from 3.6 and put the incline up to 3.0 from 2.5.

This beat the hell out of me. My heart rate zoomed up to 150 – I would not have thought that a 0.2 mph speed difference and a .5 degree in incline would make a 20-point difference in my heart rate, but it did.

I then went to do the machines and intended to do 4 circuits, but stopped at 3. I was too exhausted.

Then yesterday I blew off the gym.

I had hit the Dread Level.

I worked myself too hard and it wasn’t fun – and it made me dread the thought of going to the gym again. 

This is where most people stop. 

But because my goal of exercising has nothing to do with the size of my biceps or the weight on my scale, slowing the pace – or even going backward – is not a defeat for me. 

Not going to the gym is a defeat for me. 

So today I went back to 20 minutes on the treadmill at 3.6mph and a 2.0 incline. I bumped it up to 3.8mph after 5 minutes, but I left the incline at 2.0, which is going backward for me. I find the incline a bigger killer than the speed.

And I went back to 3 circuits on the machines. I upped the weight on the leg press to 150 from 130, found the lat pulldown and the vertical row felt a little easier today, and the chest press a little harder.

But it was fun today. And while the lighter workout might not get me to the goals most gym rats are looking for in their workouts, since my goal is, deep down, to have fun, I think I’m on the right track again.

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