Bebe Taian: Taiiku no Hi 2013: I Joined a Gym

October 14, 2013

Taiiku no Hi 2013: I Joined a Gym

Taiiku no Hi is "Health and Sports Day" in Japan. For a short summary on the holiday's history, please see last years' post. Basically, it is a day for athletic pursuits and exercises.

Last year, I talked about how physical anything basically is horrible to me, *especially* running/jogging, or anything high-intensity. And 'dieting' is just die with a T. And... I really like food. Like pizza, and falafel, and cheese ravioli covered in butter. But this year, I joined a gym.

Actually, I joined a gym almost two months ago. I started going 2-3 times a week, about an hour per visit. I have to learn more about the proper way to use some of the machinery, and better ways to stretch and exercise without the machines, but it's a work in progress. I only recently stopped going so often because one week, I tore my rotator cuff slightly, and it took about four days to heal. After that, I was busy hunting for jobs, and now, I'm carless. But that won't stop me for long! I can still exercise at home, and head up and down the apartment stairs several times a day for cardio. So why did I even join a gym?

I chose my gym after figuring out a few things about my situation:

1) I am not motivated very well when I'm at home. Oh sure, I've got an hour scheduled here to work out... but ooh, look at that baking show! Oh, the cat wants pets. Hey, I should read that article! ... and then the whole day goes by, and no exercise occured. I need to actually join a gym... BUT...

2) It needs to be cheap, and without a serious contract. I have watched my friends get sucked into great-sounding deals over and over again. $10 a month to join! $15 a month to come in! $300 to cancel? What? And some gyms didn't even have her sign papers regarding a cancellation fee. In fact, Gold's Gym was put on the TV News for fraud investigations over that very issue. I looked up the gyms in a reasonable distance, near other places I visit (so I have no excuse not to go), and looked over their offers and contracts. I found one that is only $11/mo, and the cancellation fee is only about $40. There is a once-a-year membership fee of $40. I got a pretty good deal by signing up within the last few days of the month, which knocked some of the fees off my membership.

3) The gym needs to be clean, and it needs to have up-to-date machinery with plenty of padding. I have some pretty extensive stuff going on, and I get exhausted too easily for free weights to be safe to use. The one I go to only opened a few years ago, so I know that all the equipment is relatively new, and it's kept in great shape. All of the machinery is adjustable as well, so there's no such thing as straining to reach a bar or struggling to fit into a seat correctly for assisted situps.

Within just a few weeks of eating right and getting a workout 2-3 times a week, nothing incredibly strenuous, I started to have results. DH and some friends have commented on how my shoulders are shaping up, and my legs look more toned. I started with very low weights and limited myself to 15-20 reps, broken down into 3-4 sets of 5. In fact, I'm still doing those very low weight/high reps combos. I can work up to higher weights or reps when these start becoming too easy for me. I don't do more than 10 minutes on a treadmill. In fact, more than 15 can be detrimental to your workout.

So what can you take away from this? 

When you go to a gym, you have to remind yourself: your only competition is yourself, and no one else. Not the skinny chick on the stair-stepper, not the super-buff guy lifting 10 plates like he's going into a real-life Dragon Ball Z battle, not anyone but YOU. And it takes a long, long time to see results. I don't mean a few weeks. I mean a few months! It can take six months to see an appreciable amount of change in your physique, especially if you're like me, building up muscle... under a layer of fat. So at first, you get bigger in inches (because you have muscle AND fat now), and then eventually you trim down some. Hint: buy stretchy pants.

Don't worry about the weight on the scale. Seriously. I'm in a healthy weight range FINALLY, but I'm still skinnier now and weighing MORE than I did when I weighed less and was fatter. Why? Fat is less dense than muscle, so a pound of fat takes up more room on the body than a pound of muscle does. Don't let health be about a narrow waistline. Even doctors are fatphobic; don't hate yourself if you don't "measure up" in their eyes. Focus on how your heart functions, how high your blood pressure is, how good your circulation and breathing are. Focus on your HEALTH, not the size you wear. Focus on what YOU want to accomplish. Then make a plan that fits you!

Oh look! A field of stuff I'm not going to eat!
And if you do start to work out, don't cut down on calories. You NEED calories to be able to work
out without causing damage to your body. When muscles do not have the nutrients they need to build and heal, you damage yourself more than you help yourself. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, which can come in small changes. It's a bad trainer who tells you to cut down to 1200 calories or something ridiculously low to lose weight. Don't do it! It looks good in the short-term, but it can really mess up your long-term metabolism, causing you to gain fat because your body thinks there's a famine going on. It took me years to reset my body. Trust me: I've done the starvation route, months and months on 800 calories or less with a full workload, sometimes walking/biking up to 10 miles a day while keeping on my feet at work. It is NOT healthy, no matter WHAT your current weight is.

I don't like bunny food. I just don't, okay? And no vegan cooking show will ever make me like eating a salad that isn't covered in way too much Catalina or Caesar dressing. But what I WILL do is eat thin-crust pizza with more veggies in it. I'll drink more miso soup, and eat plenty more hijiki. I will make falafel more often (beans, onions, spices, mixed into a paste and fried before being dipped in yoghurt/dill/cucumber sauce. ADDICTIVE!). I can have a ham + turkey sandwich, hold the mayo, upgrade to better mustard. I still eat chocolate, just less of it. Ain't no point in denying yourself the foods you love. You might get hit by a bus tomorrow! You don't know! That piece of cheesecake might be the last piece of cheesecake you ever savor. So ENJOY food, ALL foods, healthy or not! Just watch the balance of foods that give you nourishment vs. foods that don't help you.

Changing your attitudes about self-worth, nutrition, dieting, and increasing physical activity can do wonders for a person. You get to meet new people, try new recipes, and push your own limits! Just find out what your needs and goals are, make a plan, and prioritize sticking to it. You can do it!

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