Adventures In Running

Monday, April 18, 2011

Being in shape is not the same as fit

Since running a half marathon and a marathon two days in a row in January while suffering from bronchitis and other bodily infections, I have struggled with my running. At this point in time I can hardly believe that I ran a marathon and a 50 mile race in a two week period in October. I am still able to run, but I think my lungs were weakened by doing the Goofy Challenge while sick.

This has led me to thinking about my healthy.

I am the first to admit that I went from being in great shape in 2008 to letting myself gain weight and lose muscle and being in not-so-great shape in 2011. I could kick myself for letting this happen. In fact, I have mentally kicked myself most days for letting it happen.

Compared to a large portion of the population, I am in good shape. I am slightly overweight, but I am not obese. I exercise regularly. I eat somewhat healthily. But am I fit?

The answer to that question (at least in my opinion) is NO.

I was working out with my trainer the other day and he kicked my butt in a matter of minutes with some of the exercises he gave me. I can run and walk for hours on end (at least when I am trained for it). I can lift weights sitting at a machine and get strong and push myself hard. But going through a series of functional exercises requiring me to use different muscles one right after another and balance and tighten my core left me ready to pass out.

So – I am on a course to get fit in 2011.

What is being fit to me? Fitness to me will consist of the following:

  • Eating healthy and breaking my addiction to junk food for once and for all (see previous post). This does not mean giving up junk food. I like it too much and I think it has its time and place in my life.
  • Getting my body fat percentage down below 20%. I was down to 22% in 2008 and have let it get back up to 32%. Again – I am kicking myself – but it is what it is and there is no denying it.
  • Pushing myself with a variety of weight training methods so that my body can handle not only static exercises at machines, but balancing, plyometrics, and movement related exercises. I want to be able to jump on benches, box, etc. without it taking a toll on me every time.
  • Using a variety of cardiovascular type exercises instead of focusing on running alone. Start riding my bike to and from work, swimming, rowing, stair climbing.
  • Break that elusive 10 minute mile base for running.

Now – I need to eat my breakfast consisting of Dancing Berries cereal, almond milk, an apple and a hard-boiled egg.

Eating Healthy is Hard Work

Today marks day 7 of eating healthy. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

  • It takes a total mental refocus to eat healthy. It is not going to happen unless you really want to make the change.
  • It is a lot of work to eat healthy.
  • Eating healthy requires planning. Meal plans, shopping lists, etc.
  • Eating healthy requires cleaning junk out of your kitchen (and spare room - and office drawers).
  • Unless you are independently wealthy – eating healthy requires cooking.
  • Cooking requires extra time. But – you can cook multiple things at once and prepare for several days in advance, so not too much extra time.

I am 50 years old. I have been reading a lot about nutrition and the body. I have also been reading about body weight and aging (sad to think that aging applies to me). I have let junk food and my beloved friends chocolate and sugar control my life for too many years. (Don't worry friends – I am not the type to turn my back and abandon friends entirely). If I want to live many more years to torture my children and grandchildren and enjoy myself while doing so – I need to make these changes.

Some of the changes needed:

  • Remove sugar and fat as major parts of my diet. (sniff, sniff, sob)
  • Lose at least 20 pounds and possibly 30 to get my body to where it should be to handle the fact that aging causes muscle and bone loss unless you prevent that.
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal I eat (this is a hard change).
  • Plan meals and menus in advance.
  • Grocery shop.
  • Pack my breakfasts and lunches the night before.
  • When I slip or eat junk – make sure it is what I want and that I at least am enjoying myself and not stuffing my face mindlessly.