Tag Archives: exercise

Mile 587: An Introvert’s Guide to the Gym

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“I spent my life becoming invisible.
It’s hard to maintain, and it’s hard to get by.”
–Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember”

Miles last week: 51
Total miles: 587

One of the good things about the Internet (that seems like an oxymoron) is that I feel like people generally better understand the difference between introverts and extroverts. That, or the Internet really only exists so that you can validate yourself and I frequently peruse the geek board on Pinterest, which sometimes has pins that tell you it’s okay be an introvert–pins like this one:

Basically, introverts are introspective, watchful, quiet, and need alone time to recharge. This, of course, causes a whole host of problems and assumptions that are slightly beside the point right now. What we’re talking about today is how being an introvert can affect your gym time.

That’s right. There, unfortunately, can be a social aspect to working out. There are people there. And sometimes they try to talk to you when you’re huffing and puffing and generally being a disgusting, sweaty mess. It’s madness.

If you’re an introvert like me (I know–you’re completely shocked to discover this personal detail about myself), then social interaction takes a bit more energy than it does for extroverts, whether you realize it or not. At the gym, though, you need every bit of energy you have to concentrate on burning those calories and not dropping weights on your foot. You’re going to have to take some steps to make sure no one else there does anything annoying, like talk to you.

As an introvert who frequents the gym, I am prepared to share my wisdom with you. Just follow these tips to ensure that you have plenty of fortitude to make it through a workout without collapsing from conversation-induced exhaustion.

Buy noise-cancelling headphones.
Nothing says “unapproachable” like completely covering your ears with technology specifically designed to muffle all sound around you. The only bad thing is that they’ll make your ears sweat. It’s also not very fun when you break them and have to duct tape them back together, but your hair keeps getting stuck in the adhesive when you wear them. I heard that from a friend…who is definitely not me…

Pick one machine and stick with it.
If you’re getting up and moving around to different areas of the gym, there is a chance that you will accidentally make eye contact with someone. And we all know what eye contact leads to: acknowledgement of another person that you may have to speak to. Whether it’s a quiet hello or a mumbled apology for almost crashing into him or her, this is a needless expense of energy that you will undoubtedly need if you have any hope of being able to move after a few sets of squats. If you ever squat and fall over, just know it’s because you nodded at that person when he or she walked past you on the way to the water fountain.

If you must move around, make sure you have your phone.
Your phone is a vital tool in evading social interaction. I tend to wait until after I’m off the elliptical or treadmill and on my way to the paper towels (because I’m sanitary and clean off any machine I touch) before I tell MyFitnessPal how many calories I’ve burned so that I can avoid looking at any people–or, you know, where I’m going. I only SOMETIMES run into things, okay?

Just pretend you know what you’re doing.
Whatever you do, DON’T ASK ANYONE HOW ANYTHING WORKS. There are diagrams on the machines for a reason, y’all.

Close your eyes when using equipment.
This will make it look like you are concentrating and working hard on muscle definition when you’re really just trying to stop yourself from glancing around the room and looking like a creeper. On a side note–don’t close your eyes when using the elliptical or treadmill, as this may result in vertigo or personal injury. I also heard that from a friend…

So there you have it. The key to surviving at the gym as an introvert is essentially to avoid eye contact and act like you belong.

Good luck out there, introvs*.

*I’m so sorry. I was trying to make “introvert” cool and abbreviated. I see now that it was a bad idea and deeply regret my attempt at colloquialism.

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Mile 333.5: On the Importance of Letting People Pass You

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“To me! To me!
To you and you and you, you, and you.”
–“La Vie Boheme,”
RENT

Miles last week: 18
Total miles: 333.5

On both Monday and Friday, I left work early because of snow. I am not a terribly aggressive driver, so I took the entire forty-five-mile drive home pretty slow. People passed me the entire time.

Sure, I maybe could have gone a little faster, but I figured, why risk it? I drive a ten-year-old Ford Focus. I’ve probably spent more on repairs than it’s worth and most of the time I would like to send it over a cliff–you know, in a mostly “Sure, I’d like smash you into pieces but I’d also be sad if you were gone” sort of way.

I have a complicated relationship with my car. This is beside the point.

The point is, I didn’t drive any faster than I felt comfortable. My philosophy was that I wasn’t racing anyone. I was the only one going to my house, and those other people may know better what their cars are capable of. I just did my thing and tried not to worry about what other people were doing while I rocked out to the Rent soundtrack.

(Yes, you heard that right. La Vie Boheme, baby.)

For some reason, it is harder to have this non-racing philosophy in other areas of life. Like the gym, for example.

I am not someone who has mastered the art of not comparing myself to others. It’s hard not to see other people and think you should be doing what they’re doing because they are obviously superior beings who have everything together.

I’m worried it might be a permanent condition. I think I’m just always going to hate the ginger bastard gliding along at ten miles an hour on the treadmill next to me (well, now he’s a few machines down since I’ve been relegated back to the elliptical).

Seriously, what’s that guy’s problem? He doesn’t even break a sweat. What a jerk. GO RUN A MARATHON OR SOMETHING. I hope you can’t find a port-a-potty when you need it.

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, but you can’t always be looking at what everyone else is doing. Trust me–I know how difficult this is. You can only try to do better than you did the day before.

Perhaps the only way to fix this comparison disorder is to constantly pretend I’m driving in the snow and trying not to die. Apparently that’s the only time I remember that everyone is doing their own thing and I’m the only one going to my specific destination.

It’s not a race.

Unless you’re in a race.

Then it’s a race.

But you probably shouldn’t be in a race all the time.

If you are, you should probably rethink some things.

That’s a post for a different day.

Mile 315.5: I Know We’re Broken Up, But…

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“So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body.”
–Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie”

Miles last week: 52.5
Total miles: 315.5

Oh, Elliptical. I’m sorry–Lipty. I know you like it when I call you that.

I promised myself that we were through, but goddammit, I just can’t stay away from you.

The treadmill hasn’t been treating me too well lately, Lipty. I know it doesn’t mean to. It’s just that sometimes I push it, and the treadmill pushes back. It’s not the treadmill’s fault. It’s mine. This is what I get for trying to increase my running intervals, and right now, my left hip is paying for it. So, I’m feeling a little bit like an old lady and I need a friend.

That’s why I’m here. Well, that and the fact that all of the treadmills were taken the other day. I can’t believe that bastard is cheating on me on top of everything else. What a jerk. Do you have any cake? No–wait. Don’t answer that.

I suppose I’m a little lucky, though. Seeing no available treadmills sent me back to you and made me realize that you wouldn’t hurt me like the treadmill. With you, I’ve never questioned whether I should start looking into joint replacement.

Don’t take this for more than it is, Lipty. I’m only here because my left hip has decided to start protesting higher impact and I’m trying to prevent self-injury. I’m out of here after my new Dr. Scholl’s Sport Insoles (which are specifically made for all-day shock absorption and stress on the lower body joints) start to kick in and I feel a little more like my normal, older-than-young-adult self. This is purely physical.

SportInsoles

I had to buy the boy ones.

Don’t look at me like that, Lipty. I can’t help it. I need the treadmill. But right now, I need a little safety.

We’ll have fun while it lasts, though.

Mile 180: Things No One Tells You About Weight Loss, Part 1

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“In a few weeks, I will get time
To realize it’s right before my eyes.
And I can take it if it’s what I want to do.”
–Two Door Cinema Club, “What You Know”

Miles since last time: 69 (hehe–sorry, sometimes I’m 12)
Total miles: 180

When people talk about losing weight and getting fit, there are a few obvious things they’ll refer to: new clothes, more stamina, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

There are also many things that no one tells you–or at least, no one told me. I’ve started a list.

1.) You can feel your heartbeat in your torso when you lie down.
Try it. Press your hand right above your belly button, down to the muscle. Some of us (ahem, me) might have to press a little more, but you’ll feel it. I don’t know what blood vessel is right there, but it pumps hard enough to move your hand up and down. It’s kind of weird.

You can also put your other hand on your neck and see how the pulses are just a millisecond off of each other. It’s kind of cool, if you’re curious about that sort of thing…

2.) You notice it in your hands.
I’ll never have a thigh gap, but I have a finger gap. Am I pretty yet?

Has my hand always looked like that?

Has my hand always looked like that?

3.) You lose all ability to regulate your body temperature.
Since my teen years, I’ve been someone who is basically always wearing at least two layers of clothing, even in the summer. I guess I just like the layered look (and have a pretty high amount of body shame, but whatever). Now, though, this has a lot more function. I’m freezing when I get home after working out, but I may wake up sweating during the night. I’ve also become someone who doesn’t understand why people walk into her office and comment that she and her officemates are basically sitting in a furnace. And if the A/C is on, I start to wonder if it would be weird for me to be wearing two sweaters and my gloves.

I imagine it’s like a much, much lesser version of being bipolar–but without meds. That being said, I still (and will always) prefer winter to summer. I’m just going to need more sweaters.

4.) If you’re a lady, you become more…um…regular.
I considered not including this one, but this is supposed to be the start of a list of things no one tells you, right? Well, a lot of overweight women don’t menstruate regularly. When some of that weight starts to come off…well, you get the idea.

Okay, talk about normal, healthy body functions = over.

5.) You start to feel more comfortable answering “What if?” with “Let’s find out.”
Two years ago, I never would have considered running, even for a minute at a time. But what if I did? I swore I would never own skinny pants. What if I just tried them on and maybe just got some on to wear with boots? Or, what if I referred to menstrual cycles on my blog? And, of course, the big one–what if I joined an improv class and built some comedy skills?

This might be where you have the urge to congratulate me on the self-confidence to try new things, but let me stop you there. I see this as more the result of thinking, “Hey, I did a thing I thought was impossible (i.e., going thousands of miles)–I wonder what else I can do.”

As you start to test your physical limits and discover what you are capable of, you get curious. And if you’re a lifetime daydreamer like me, you have lots of what-ifs to choose from.

Unfortunately, you can’t test them all. I mean, I don’t really foresee a scenario in which I should find out what would happen if I decided to start parting my hair on the other side or something. Let’s not get crazy.

This journey ain’t over yet, folks. More revelations to come.

Mile 2703: The 2014 Tally

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“No, this ain’t nothin’ new.
The only thing you’ve got is you.”
–The Black Keys, “Year in Review”

Miles in 2014: 2703
Pounds lost in 2014: 62 (98 total!)

Yes, this is the obligatory year-end/new-year post. Welcome.

At the beginning of the year, I posted three resolutions:

  • Write every day.
  • Find a happy place.
  • Do 2,014 miles.

I succeeded at only one of these. I’d tell you which, but I like to keep secrets. I’m mysterious that way.

As it is the start of a new year, the mile count is starting over again. Ah, new beginnings.

Which also means new resolutions. Ah, promises to myself that I will feel guilty about not keeping in fifty-one weeks.

I may not have the best track record with these things–or with challenge goals in general (may I point you to my string of attempted 30-day challenges and NaNoWorkMo?)–but I’m going to keep making them. Call me an optimist. Or delusional. It doesn’t matter. I can’t hear you, anyway. I’m half-deaf, too.

1.) Write every day.
Yeah. We’re trying this again. I may or may not fail again. I may or may not fail better.

2.) No MyFitnessPal on holidays.
You know, like New Year’s, Christmas, my birthday, TV show premiere days, National Green Sweater Day, any time I visit my aunt and cousins, and various other days. There are just some times when it’s not necessary to keep track of your calorie intake. I reserve the right to work out on holidays, though.

3.) Take an improv class.
This is definitely happening, so I might be kind of cheating with this resolution. Maybe the resolution part should be not to chicken out of taking the improv class I’ve already signed up for. I registered right before Christmas and will start in a couple of weeks. This may be terrible. This may be great. I am unsure which.

Wait. That’s kind of what improv is all about, isn’t it? I have a head start!

4.) No more elliptical.
It’s been real, Lipty, but I think I’ve outgrown you. We both know I’ve had a thing on the side with the treadmill for a while. I definitely wouldn’t call it love, but there might be something there. And maybe I want to venture out and try weight machines or yoga or something. I don’t know. I do know that I need to push myself. I’m still just discovering this side of myself. But really, you’ve made me a better person, and for that, I will always be grateful.

5.) Be better.
This is pretty much the crux of every resolution, isn’t it? Still, sometimes it’s nice to explicitly say it. I want to make sure that I put time and energy into being better. A better sister, a better friend, a better daughter, a better aunt, a better niece, a better cousin–just a better human–and, of course, a better writer.

One resolution you might not notice is a number of miles for this year. I’m still going to keep track of the number, but I’ve decided not to set a specific goal for 2015. I think we’ll just see how far we get.

So, 2015. Let’s do this.

Mile 2420: Sometimes You Have to Hold Up Your Own Pants

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“Shed this skin I’ve been tripping in
Never to quite return.”
–John Mayer, “Bigger Than My Body”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2420

I made myself a bargain a few weeks ago. I’m not allowed to buy any new clothes until I hit the next big weight loss milestone.

I’m certainly not someone who goes shopping all the time–my philosophy thus far has just been to buy new pants when I need them–but I thought putting it off would be a nice reward for myself.

This would not normally be a problem, but I currently don’t have any exercise pants that fit, as I haven’t needed them since last winter. Capris I have–pants, not so much.

Not surprisingly, this decision against shopping for the moment has come to bite me in the gluteal region.

What follows is a very true story.

On Monday, it was seventy degrees outside. On Tuesday, it was thirty. Gotta love Oklahoma. On Wednesday, I decided I needed to wear actual pants to the gym and not capris.

It’s okay! I thought Wednesday afternoon. I have safety pins and an older pair of drawstring-less pants!

I grabbed that safety pin, tried to jab it through the elastic, and bent the pin beyond usability because apparently the pants are part steel or I have Hulk hands. The jury is still out.

I probably should have recognized this as a bad omen. I did not. Instead, I shoved another safety pin through the waistband, made it work, and went on my way.

Since I started running, my workout has pretty much been a few miles on the treadmill and the rest on the elliptical. My slow weaning from the elliptical is going surprisingly decently, other than some knee pain.

Everything was fine last Wednesday…until about the last two minutes on the treadmill.

I felt a pop. Not a bad, I’m-in-excruciating-pain-and-my-legs-aren’t-working-anymore pop, but an oh-no-I-might-lose-my-pants pop.

That poor safety spin. I imagine that it held on for as long as it could, it’s poor little imaginary hands clasped together as tightly as possible. I assume that I couldn’t hear its pleas of “I’ll never let go!” because I had my headphones in. I couldn’t recognize that it was about to give up. For that, I blame myself.

I may need a min–eh, I’m fine.

I managed to catch the pin before it fell onto the treadmill’s belt and possibly shot across the room. And, friends, I was so dedicated to finishing my jogging miles that I did not immediately run to the bathroom to fix it. I adapted and tried to play it off like “Oh, yeah, I’m walking with my hands on my hips because people do that sometimes even when they aren’t holding up their own pants. Nothin’ to see here.”

When my three treadmill miles were done, I quickly, but not suspiciously, walked to the bathroom with my safety pin and firmly reaffixed my pants.

You know, now that I think about it, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I should just be glad I didn’t accidentally stab my alleged Hulk hands. This bargain is already biting me enough as it is.

Mile 2362: NaNoWorkMo

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“We are strong.
No one can tell us we’re wrong.”
–Pat Benatar, “Love is a Battlefield”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2362

If you know what NaNoWriMo is, you probably follow a writing-centered Twitter account.

If you don’t, I will tell you that it is a buzzy abbreviation that stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” November is the month that a lot of writers decide to crank out a fifty-thousand-word novel in just thirty days while dudes are growing mustaches.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. (The writing part, not the mustache part. Of course, I have no idea what goes in to growing a mustache, so I may be totally wrong about that.)

A few fellow writers at work have decided to undertake the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I am, too…sort of…only insomuch as I’ll be writing fifty thousand words and working on my novel.

My plan for this month is to use this time to really figure out how to fix the novel I started while still in college, work through them, and go about starting to make those changes. (And then completely finishing it and all that jazz. Some of that will probably have to happen after November 30, though.)

Basically, fifty thousand words worth of work will be happening, but my novel probably won’t be fifty thousand words longer. It’s confusing, but it makes sense to me, and that’s all that matters, right?

 

Since my novel work has pretty much been in limbo since I graduated from college almost two years ago, I’m using NaNoWriMo to give me the kick in the pants that I need to get back on track. This may or may not be considered cheating at actual NaNoWriMo, so I sometimes tend to think of it as NaNoWorkMo–which really should be every month, I suppose–but sometimes you have to make up your own rules that don’t really apply to anyone else and no one else cares about, anyway.

My two big goals for NaNoWork(Wri)Mo are:

1.) Crank out a significant number of words every day.

One of my goals for this year was to write every day. It hasn’t been happening so much. Better late than never, right? That’s sort of how a lot of things in my life have gone.

Fifty thousand words in a month averages to 1,667 per day, which is approximately seven pages. Yes, that does seem like a lot. Quite frankly, so does nine miles of jogging/elliptical-ing a day, but I’ve managed to make that part of my routine.

2.) Stop overthinking and just do it.

May I speak frankly? Sometimes the pressure of trying to write something worth reading gives me so much anxiety that it gets in the way of my productivity. However, I also can’t not try to write. It’s frustrating, and I’m not proud of the nerves, but that’s the situation.

Part of the unofficial point of NaNoWriMo’s high word count is that you don’t really have time to think about it. You just do it with the full understanding that some of it isn’t going to be so great. You get the story out and fix it later. It’s what you have to do.

That’s what I have to train myself to do.

And after nine days of NaNoWorkMo, I think I’ve discovered something–the big bad secret of NaNoWriMo.

Fifty thousand words in a month is surprisingly not as impossible as you think.

You’d be amazed at how many words you can crank out during your lunch hour or in the half hour before going to bed. It’s completely doable when you take it a little at a time and don’t freak out about the big picture.

Honestly, before starting the Mile Project, I would probably doubt my ability to train myself to do anything. Now, though, I know that working every day–especially when you stumble sometimes–is way more important than doing everything absolutely correctly all the time.

Wait. I think I’ve had some professors who tried to teach me that. It sounds vaguely familiar. Hmm. Weird.

Gosh. It’s almost like exercising has had a ripple effect in the rest of my life and my self-discipline. What the heck, man?