“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” –Buddha
I Wanted a Big Positive Change in my Life and Here’s What Happened
On March 9, 2016, I began a journey to get healthier by going to the gym. I have been every day, rain or shine, since. Yes, I know that I am not supposed to go to the gym every day as evidenced by the rolled eyeballs of any trainer with whom I’ve spoken. People are not supposed to go to the gym every day. I tend to be an all or nothing sort of guy so I committed to going every day. Whether I felt great or not I went for at least thirty minutes, at the very minimum walking slowly on the treadmill. Most of the time, however, it was far more intense than that for between thirty and sixty minutes.
I will not claim to have made an incredible transformation, perhaps far from it. All told I have lost net twelve pounds over the year and have dropped two sizes. At the height of my loss, I had lost twenty-eight pounds. Yes, that means I have gained sixteen pounds, or one stone, back. Based on the way my clothes fit and my measurements, my guess is that a good percentage of that may be muscle. I have not changed my clothes size since my lowest weight.
On other health-related notes, my blood work has improved significantly. As it relates to my blood sugar levels, my A1C score dropped from 6.1 to 5.4 due to a combination of diet, exercise, and prescriptions. My blood pressure which had been 160/110 is often around 120/80. Suffice it to say I feel better physically and my doctor at least is tentatively pleased.
Mentally, I feel more confident. I realize that though I do not look as I want to, yet, I am pleased with the lifestyle I have adopted. Depending on how one views it, it is a lifestyle that may be hard to maintain directly given some of my dreams. On a positive note, I believe it can be the catalyst to at the very least maintain a somewhat active lifestyle where I would incorporate some exercise into my life on a very regular basis. The gym and resistance training is a component of a healthy life but not necessarily the totality of a complete exercise regimen.
For the first time in my life, I can do more than one pull-up unassisted. Yes, now I can do two. For someone who was struggling to even do one with one hundred pounds of counter weight a year ago, it is a significant improvement. For a guy who struggled in PE class growing up just to do 15 sit-ups, jumping jacks and push-ups, I am amazed that I regularly will do 100-200 of each on any given day.
It is said that the average adult gains an average of one pound per year from age 25 to age 60. Given what I weighed when I was 25, this would have been extremely dangerous for my health. I graduated college at 242. I weigh 214 now. What does concern me is that they say that the average adult should take 10,000 steps per day. Even as active as I was, I was closer to 6,000 and that was going to the gym and getting some treadmill in for warm-up and cool down. It is only recently that I have been averaging around 10,000 steps per day and that is with my training for a half marathon.
I intend to exercise every day in some fashion. My main hesitation of saying going to the gym every day is impractical is acknowledgment that this does not fit with my desire to backpack the Appalachian Trail in 2018. Given that I will probably be hefting between 30-40 lbs for between 8-20 miles each day on the trail, I guess I will more than make up for missing those gym visits on those days.
Even if one goes to the gym, I have also learned that it is easy for me to let myself slide on how hard I push myself, which makes classes or personal training very valuable for me. I may have enough discipline to get up put on my clothes and show up. Apparently, I need that additional push to really get the results that I desire.
I have also learned that it is important to mix things up, otherwise one tends to plateau. My biggest results happen when I force my body to do something outside of my normal routine. This is another reason why I doubt I will continue to go to the gym every day in the future. Muscle confusion tends to be useful for good health.
Having been to the gym for over a year, I would sum up my advice to the average couch potato. Commit to moving on a regular basis, even if it is a little bit each day. Chances are you will be glad that you did.