So in between working too hard, sleeping too little and ignoring my "Upgrade Your Life" project altogether, I've undertaken another project (with less dedication than I'd like): to get really fit again.
Like many of us, I have a patchy history of dedication to the gym. I am not now, nor have I ever been, an athlete. I lack hand-eye coordination. (You should see how slowly my mouse is set to track so I can manage to control it - pathetic!) Let's just say I lack coordination full stop. Watching me dance is probably only slightly less painful than this classic from Seinfeld... (I don't actually know because, blessedly, there is no videographic evidence of my dancing talents, or lack thereof):
I have been blessed with a fast metabolism and my father's skinny physique. So I can ignore the gym, sometimes for months on end, without suffering any dire consequences or a need to revamp my wardrobe. At 5'6" I weigh 120 lbs on a bad day. But here's my dirty little secret: I am a skinny overweight person. The last time I had my body fat percentage measured it came in at something like 28% and I was horrified. That's 33 lbs of fat - a good 10 more than I should be carrying. I've got tiny little bird bones - the epitome of a small frame - so although I actually register slightly underweight on the BMI, I could stand to lose a few pounds of fat and replace it with muscle.
Before I met my husband 10 years ago, I walked to work 20 minutes one way and carried my gym bag on the "commute" every day. My gym was on the route home and did it really make sense to walk right by the gym door carrying that bag I had packed with the intention of working out even if I didn't want to do it (which was like, oh, every time)? No, it did not. So I worked out. Long and hard. I had no one to get home to, and when I did get home I could eat beef jerky and cottage cheese for dinner to get my minimum protein allowance for the day. I looked good. I felt great. I was more conscientious about physical fitness and nutrition than I ever had been or likely ever will be again.
Then fun with D and eating the lovely meals he prepares for us, longer commutes, inconvenient gym locations, international moves, and well, life, got in the way of my motivation. I've been doing sporadically little to overcome my natural tendencies to laze around and do nothing that could possibly create a caloric deficit or generate new muscle fibers. But age and a slowing metabolism are creeping up on me and I think I'd better get onto it before the situation gets out of hand. Inspired by D who's always been naturally fit and athletic, we recently bought the DVD-based P90X personal training program by beachbody.com.
Before you start, you have to take a fitness test to provide a benchmark against which to measure yourself and to ensure you that have a minimum level of fitness to commence the program. I was a bit worried, but was able to accomplish the targets adequately - except for being able to do 1 chin up, which I have never ever been able to do, and don't know if I'll ever get there. You also have to take a series of photographs of yourself (front, side, rear) in the smallest amount of clothing that could be considered decent.
Although I've not really struggled with weight, I still hate the way I look in a swimsuit and generally manage to avoid being seen in public in one. Bikinis are not my friends. I carry my extra pounds in a little pouch settled around my midsection and I obsess over flat tummies and trim waists. Why can't I look like that? What I wouldn't give to convert this belly fat to a little extra junk in the trunk. But I can look in the mirror each morning after a shower and think: "Not bad... not really bad anyway."
Until I saw these pictures. Oh. My. Goodness. I have been deluding myself all these years. I look TERRIBLE. That lumpy tummy. That square, flat pathetic butt. And despite inheriting my father's generally skinny physique... how could I not have realized I have my mother's puffy upper arms?!
There are plenty of people blogging their way through this program and posting their before and after-90-days pictures for the world to see. (I will not be doing that.) Many of those before shots look way worse than mine and their after shots reflect amazing transformations. The program comes with a fairly strict nutrition plan and I suspect those success stories reflect dedicated compliance with the diet. I will not be doing that either. They say you can't out exercise a bad diet, but dammit, I am going to try.
I haven't been keeping to the strict 6 days of workouts/one day of rest schedule. I have merely been trying to keep pushing through the program every few days or so, fitting it into my manic work schedule whenever I can. I revel in the complaints of muscles taxed in unfamiliar ways after the first few workouts. I've also realized that I am getting old, and no matter how young I feel, the joints just aren't what they used to be. Washed up physically at 37? Maybe, but I'm going to fight the good fight anyway.
I think I'm in for a painful realization though, if at the end of 90 days of workouts I realize that, no matter how strong I've gotten, I'm going to have to diet these few pounds of flab off after all. 'Cuz I really do love me some junk food.