Friday, March 16, 2012

History of exercise since high school

I've been reading fitness magazines (Shape, Runner's World, Bicycling, once in a while Outside and Men's Health) for over 20 years and to be honest, none of them has helped me in terms of getting better at technique or getting personal records or just becoming a better "exerciser". Where it has helped is with motivation and I have finally come to a point where I realized that they don't provide that motivation any longer. Most of the articles are just a recycle of the same information and some of it is blatantly wrong! How many times can you read about delicious desserts that you can have or wear "stability" control shoes if you over-pronate or have knee issues? And still not lose fat (I don't care about weight loss just care about the fat on my body and how to minimize it) or still have knee pain even though I bought the orthotic inserts to wear in my thickly soled shoes.
I exercised casually in high school, I took one aerobics class, one dance class and one weight lifting class. The aerobics was fun because it was easy (so not really effective but it boosted my ego), the dance class taught me that I can't count to a beat and I have no coordination or grace (and will never practice enough to get either), I don't remember much from the weight lifting class other than we only used Nautilus equipment so I never learned how to use free weights, barbells or do any of the Olympic weightlifting moves that I love (and find effective) now. Move on to college, again more aerobic classes, hooked on Stairmaster,tried yoga one semester (hated it), and one swim class (required to graduate), very little weight lifting and again mostly on machines.  After college, I joined an expensive gym in Cambridge, MA because it had a pool (never used it) and again, did some of the machines but mostly Stairmaster.  I also tried step aerobics at home and that was great for awhile but after I sprained my ankle on the step, I quit.  I also bought a mountain bike (a rigid) and would go on very casual rides around the Charles River (I thought  that my 8-10 mph rides for 1 hour or so was a workout, little did I know). 

I just found an old record of my "health stats" in the Cambridge gym from 1999:
Resting heart rate: 76 bpm
Resting blood pressure: 114/54
Peak heart rate: 160
Total weight: 135 lbs
% Body fat: 27.6% (skin fold measurements)

My current stats 2012:
Resting heart rate: 65 bpm
Resting blood pressure: 110/70
Peak heart rate: 184
Total weight: 135 lbs (!)
% Body fat: 22.5% (skin fold measurements)

After four years of working, I went back to school in Amherst, MA.  The first year of grad school was stressful for me and I gained a significant amount of weight (I think I topped out at 150 lbs) so  I got motivated again to start exercising.  I tried running because it was cheap and finally found that I liked running, especially on the greenways and the trails (again the Robert Frost trail is one of the most awesome places to go trail running).  Weight lifting was still something I did only occasionally, even though by this time, I had a bench at home! I tried some bench presses and curls and tricep work but nothing else. 

I made friends who were "real mountain bikers" and they took me and my rigid mountain bike on the trails and I learned that I liked riding on the trails but didn't find it comfortable. Hence, I bought my first "real" mountain bike: a hardtail Gary Fisher Big Sur.  I loved that bike and started riding the trails around Amherst (Batchelor st was tough, the Robert Frost Trail was kinder).  Since mountain biking was tough for me, I did get in shape but I still wasn't really pushing myself (my average pace was 4-5 mph!, those hills were hard for me).

I also got into Spin classes during the winters which was also fun because I was getting my ass kicked by the classes.  After about 2 years of running regularly (15-25 miles/week), I started getting pretty severe knee pain in my right leg.  I went to the doctor who referred me to a podiatrist who gave me orthotic inserts to wear.  For awhile the orthotics helped but I noticed that whenever I ran longer or tried to run faster, my knee would hurt the next day.  Icing post-run helped a great deal and allowed me to continue running but after awhile, I just decided I couldn't do it anymore.  So I quit running when I moved to Syracuse and went back to being a gym rat.  Again more Stairmaster and I tried the ellipitical even though I never felt like it was doing me any good.  3 years in Syracuse meant very little mountain biking but more road biking.  Then we come to North Carolina where I got back into mountain biking (great trails, great community for bikers).  I also discovered I had a fibroid which had caused me to get tired frequently and was partially to blame for my increasing weight (I was about 142 lbs back in 2010).  Well, once the fibroid was removed, I was back to biking and running and discovered Forged Fitness.  I haven't looked back and it's been fantastic!  I can't wait to see what else is in store. 


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