What I'm Doing: You can see this post for a review of what I aimed to do before I began the New Regime.
As it happens, I have been going to the gym 3 times per week (@60 min each). Why? Well, it's not actually as horrible as I thought it would be. Sure, it's summer and the living is easy, but it strikes me I should habituate to the best of my ability before the bad weather sets in. Also, the classes I've opted to do aren't overly crowded (but they are well-attended).
I'm also practicing active yoga at home twice a week (@45-60 min each). Those practices have been more active than restorative because I'm trying to re-establish my muscle strength (while maintaining flexibility) to build on the work at the gym. If I'm feeling mentally lazy I do a couple of online yoga classes back-to-back (free ones from Yoga Journal).
At the gym, instead of doing cardio machines (which I've used a few times), instead I've gravitated towards the classes. I like their interactivity and the fact that they're in a separate, more quiet space. My goal is to try them all (and there are like 60 variations on a bunch of styles). So far, I've done yoga for one of those gym sessions each week. Why? Well, if I'm going to try them all, I might as well start with the ones that don't scare me. Also, I'm very intrigued to see how gym yoga has evolved in the last 20 years. (Natch, I have a post-worth of info on that which I'll bore you with another time.)
In addition to yoga, I've also been taking the classes that focus on core strength and muscle fitness. I just don't love jumping as much as using my body as leverage. However, I'm pleased to tell you that those muscle-based classes are VERY cardiovascular. I leave with rubbery muscles and covered in sweat (ugh, but I tolerate it).
You might be thinking: Kristin, you still seem to be doing more yoga than anything else. Yeah, well what of it? I'm also doing all the walking I used to do (nothing new there) but I'm systematically adding in some new stuff, approached in a style I can manage. It's a start. Point is, I'm doing much more active fitness than I was a month ago.
What It's Doing For Me:
Let me start by assuring you that, if you're a person struggling to manage your regular life and all of its bits and pieces, you can add the gym, or some other kind of regular fitness you enjoy, without it sucking up every last bit of energy you have. (Time, well that's another matter entirely, I'm afraid...)
The reason for this, as near as I've been able to determine for myself, is that you use a different pool of energy for fitness than for other pursuits. As an analogy: Imagine that you "pay" for your regular life in cash (let's not suggest we're using credit, people!). The energy for the gym is "paid" by, let's say, an energetic debit card (still energy you own, but of a different format). You replenish the funds available by engaging in your activities of choice. Then you live off the proceeds while you're going about your day-to-day.
I'm amazed to say that I don't feel more tired doing all of this activity, though I am freakin' sore. But it does cut into the time I have to do other things and I'm still coming to terms with that.
But never mind the preamble, what differences can I see or feel?
- I am stronger, more aligned and more flexible, which is very enjoyable. I've been so weak and exhausted since I had pertussis. This enlivens me.
- I have a bit of observable, improved tone in my upper abdomen and backs of legs/lower derriere. I assure you, it's not going to get me my own reality show, but a couple of people have commented.
- However, the main difference - and it's pretty notable - is in how it's undercut the symptoms of my, ahem, menopausal journey. Mercifully, my headaches are being well-managed by a couple of hormonal precursors (prescribed by my naturopath). But the epic that is PMS is playing at a lower volume in the last few weeks. I am far less bloated (it's almost all worth it for this reason alone), less prone to night-sweats and hot flashes. It's too soon to say, but it might actually have some impact, eventually, on the hemorrhagic aspect of my cycles. Of course, so will full-on menopause :-)
I should say one other thing, since you'll note I haven't discussed whether I've "lost any weight". I deliberately didn't step on the scale before I started this exercise and I have no intention of doing so at any time going forward. IMO, scales are reductive and I don't understand the obsession with them. They don't tell you if you've lost fat (unless you have a fancy one and even then, the jury's out), they don't explain how you've gained muscle. They cannot advise you (like a simple tape measure), whether your waist is an inch less large.
I have eyes and clothing to tell me whether this regimen is having the intended external impact. And so do we all...
Today's questions: Have you recently begun to exercise hard? How are you feeling? At the gym, do you prefer the cardio or the muscle-tone classes? Are you one of those scale-watchers? Is there some hidden benefit to the scale, in your opinion, that I just don't get? I wanna know.