It’s easy to start most things: writing the Great American Novel, learning French, playing the piano.
Finishing all of the above is a cinch too.
It’s all the damn days in between – actually doing it, day in and day out – that are the killer.
On December 15th, I decided to start exercising for the first time since the 1980s. Not that I haven’t started hundreds of times before – the difference here was I was going to focus on that middle part – the keeping exercising – that I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of previously.
So I started with 20 minutes on the treadmill, then after a week or so, I made pathetic attempts to start weight training – no, I take that back – sounds too much like I know what I’m doing. It’s more accurate to say I started playing around with the weight training machines in a systematic fashion that might appear to the untrained eye that I was weight training.
Are you thinking: this guy could use a trainer? Um, when I’m lost I don’t stop and ask for directions, OK? See what we’re dealing with?
Every other day I do 3 circuits through 4 machines: leg press, chest press, lat pull-down and vertical row.
I’ve also tried to incorporate those muscleman protein powders into my regimen. Based on a recommendation from the TNT diet author, I bought Nitrean, one of these enormous tubs of powder. There were two other recommended choices, so why did I pick this one? Well, their website actually worked – one didn’t.
And their description of their product wasn’t so over-the-top-hyped-to-the-hilt prose of the other two.
Really – I think most of these folks make sure they just came from the gym and are on an adrenaline and testosterone high when they write this stuff. The description for the Nitrean wasn’t as off-putting, and was part of my decision to choose them.
Each selection is a type of protein powder that contains both whey and casein. This is supposedly important because whey is digested quickly while casein is a protein that is digested more slowly – the benefit here is after you’ve beat yourself up lifting, the whey rushes in to help rebuild the muscle you’ve torn up, while the casein trickles in to continue the process – sort of an ‘extended release’.
I don’t know if the stuff is doing anything for my muscles, they are somewhat larger than before, but would their size have been any different without the stuff? Hard to say.
What I have noticed is that I haven’t experienced any soreness to speak of, and the stuff does make a wonderful, appetite suppressing meal replacement.
It’s been said that after 21 days, you’ve established a habit. Well, I have been doing it – I’ve missed maybe 2 or 3 days of treadmill, which is what I allowed myself as I committed to 6 days a week. I haven’t missed my weight training once.
I ain’t exactly lovin’ it just yet, however.
Let’s face it – I’ve built a massive mental model against exercise – see my post Exercise Makes You Fat! as one example.
Or my gecko post for another aspect of my hatred.
But I’m pushing through – at least so far. I have little result to encourage me.
I’ve gained weight since I started – about 5 lbs. – but I told myself at the beginning that I wasn’t exercising to lose weight – thank GOD I did that, because I’d have quit based on the scale.
My muscles have shown some slight improvement, but nothing impressive – 25-years of willful neglect do not get reversed in a month.
My biceps have gone from the firmness of a cod fillet to the firmness of a ripe banana – some improvement, but truly laughable in the larger sense.
I do notice that holding my 2-year-old seems more effortless, so there has been improvement.
I also worked out one morning and went in to work and did a presentation. I apparently was so animated that someone asked me: “Did you lift today or something?!?”
At that point I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, so I found that interesting.
I’m going on vacation next week, and actually inquired if the hotel we were staying had a gym, so it seems I am changing my way of thinking about it – slowly and reluctantly – but it appears to be happening.
That inner whiny child still bitches relentlessly about me doing this. “You’re too busy!” “What the point?” “You’re tired.” “This is a waste of time.”
I’m still following the ‘punch the clock’ notion I mentioned in this post about the mindset I’m trying to use to keep this going.
If any of this sounds particularly demotivating to anyone out there contemplating exercise, perhaps the only thing I can say is that: for the first time in a quarter century, by setting my expectations for results to zilch, and with the clear expectation that this will suck – I’ve exercised steadily for a month.
Sometimes, it’s the counter intuitive approach that works.