Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Physical Brutality

CD in Play: Mogwai, Mr. Beast.

Don't do as I have done, but do do what I suggest.
PS - this is not a New Years resolution

I am in terrible shape. Despicable shape. People usually say they are out of shape, but (as my friend Doug would be quick to point out) being approximately roundish is a shape. What once came easily is now torturous. I have been taking stabs at getting back into condition for a while now, but just keep getting bigger. I had once stated a while ago to my friends that if I ever reached the size I am now, they could shoot me Get the guns out boys. But it is my own fault and only I can do something about it.
Reading Zirin's book actually made me think about personal health and how fit I used to be at one point. I played basketball, baseball, volleyball, ran track, (400m, 800m and 1500m competitively) surreptitiously played rugby for a bit, kayaked, hiked and was an avid cyclist. But then I stopped. Not sure why exactly. There were certain reasons for certain activities, but not for why I stopped altogether. Cycling stopped being fun once I moved out of Port Coquitlam: New Westminster just never felt safe on a bike. And I did injure my legs by not stretching properly before races and in a game of rugby, which had a definite affect on me.
Team sports stopped because there was really nothing happening post high school. I was only ever okay at most sports with moments of brilliance. I was fast and had endurance. but lacked the refinement of skills. When I moved to Saskatchewan I stopped a lot of my activities and started gaining weight. There have been times that I did start something - some Phys Ed. in university, only using stairs at work, baseball in Montreal. - but it never lasted too long.
The point of this post is not to lament what might have been, or pity me - exercise is sooo hard. The point is to say, don't let this happen to you. The risks of being overweight are hypertension, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain forms of cancer according to some articles I have read. My Dad often thinks I am depressed because of the weight. Body image can certainly be depressing, but for me the depression was a pre-existing condition. I think the number one reason for my cessation of exercise has been depression. I wasn't grossly overweight and out of condition when I really twigged on to the fact that I should start exercising again, but felt self-conscious about working out. I was embarrassed and latched onto apathy as a defense mechanism. Whatever your issue is, deal with it. Trust me, you'll be better off for it.
We don't exercise any more. More people in North America watch sports as opposed to play them. Cuba had the right idea in promoting sports as a way of life, as an obligation to one's own self. Amateur sports of all kinds need to be encouraged. I talked to one guy at work and he said that he had a floor hockey team that just fell apart because watching hockey took precedence over playing it.
I caught the beginning of Supersize Me last night on CBC, where Spurlock mentions all the ways people have dreamed up to lose weight without exercise. (even one that claimed you could lose weight while watching television) How many people have dreamed of a machine that would do the exercise for them? Or a magic pill that melts off the pounds like fat from a BBQ duck? How much easier and enjoyable would our lives have been has we just done what needed to be done in the first place?
As I said, this isn't a pity party for me, just a re-acknowledgement that something needs to be done and attempt to encourage people to something good for themselves. It is especially easy to deceive yourself if you are or were in condition at some point in life to put it off. The more you do so, the harder it is to get back on track. What was once just a bother becomes an all-out slog. I have been walking stairs for cardio (works like a charm, just ask my lungs and pulse rate) and doctors have told me to start weight training in addition to stretching.
When I was at Sam the Record Man I began to bypass the elevator and use the stairs. I worked in the warehouse in the basement and the store was five stories high, so I was hiking up and down a lot of stairs. It felt good after a while and in Montreal there was baseball and I had started walking home from work and down to meet friends. So now at work the goal is to not use the elevators or the escalators. The aim is to walk approximately 4-5 blocks to the bus loop instead of 2 blocks to the stop nearby. Stretching in the morning and again after work - same goes for weights. After all that, hopefully some sort of conditioning takes place and I will be fit enough for something like Judo, Aikido or Jujutsu.


Blogger Geosomin said...

I say hooray.
A few years ago J and I hit a similar thing...we realised we'd gone to where we always said "stop me if I ever get to that point" and weren't happy. I had gone for a short bike ride with friends and had to stop multiple times, out of breath and feeling like a large lump of lead. It really shook me up.
So we started by trying to eat better and slowly change little things. Then we started walking together every day and trying to do things like take stairs and ride our bikes more. Then I got an exercise ball to do at home and later we saved up for a crosstrainer machine which although we've slacked off from in december, we've tried to each get on 3-4 times a week. Later I tried to jog...never quite got there, but being outside in the mornings was very inspiring. J is more a private person and stayed inside.
It's hard to get back at it and get to the point where it's kind of fun and not wishing you were going to die while trying to improve and get fit. I fought with asthma which made it extra irritating (still does) but even though I'm a little bit off with slacking over the holidays I still feel as though I'm taking better care of myself than I ever have. I feel *good* most days and that is what mattered most to me.
I decided I wanted to feel good and that the scale was secondary...that I only had one life to share with J and I wanted us to be able to do anything we'd like together- hike, camp, dance, whatever and not worry about our health holding us back orshortening our time.
Almost a year ago, one day I stopped and saw my reflection in a store window and literally stopped and stared and realised I looked "normal"...I almost started to cry. I'm hardly a buffed model, but I'm healthy and average and I like it. It's still surreal sometimes.
Now my goal is to try and stay here. If I fall back, not to beat myself up but to try and make each day better. My latest goal for January is to try and drink more water and eat more veggies.
Where am I going with this? I don't know...I just wanted to say you're an awesome person and you are totally worth the time and effort to become a better person. *grin*

04 January, 2007 07:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I had once stated a while ago to my friends that if I ever reached the size I am now, they could shoot me. Get the guns out boys."

You live in Canada. What Guns? As for losing weight by watching television, you technically could, as long as you have an exercise bike, tredmill, weight set and so on in your tv room. Or you could let your X-Box do the exercise for you.

04 January, 2007 18:52  
Blogger Magnus said...

None of my friends have guns, this is true. I don't have an X-Box, but I think Nintendo is on the right track with Wii. It's a limited amount of physical activity, but at least it is something. Studies have shown that fidgeters will actually burn small amounts of calories via fidgeting. Not much but...
If there is a possible advantage to fully interactive, digital entertainment, it is that it may actually increase the activity levels of some people.
(but virtual soccer, hockey, basketbal, etc would still suck compared to playing the real thing)

04 January, 2007 21:01  
Blogger Magnus said...

Thanks Geo, I love you too.

04 January, 2007 21:02  

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