Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The long road to a more fit life: part 1
The 80's and 90's...
I was not bad about working out in college. For the most part I would get to the gym a couple of times per week. Not as good as a varsity athlete, but better than many. During this time, I would say that fitness was not unknown to me.
I would characterize my 20's as a time with period bursts of motivation. I might go six months with workout frequency of two to three times per week. Then I might go another six months with something much more sporadic.
Then came the first half of my 30's, and I got horrifically lazy. I would hit the gym a couple of times every now and again. I might take a long walk on a weekend, but I think I can safely say that my sweat pores were underutilized. Curiously, this was the time of my life when my weight was peaking. Funny how those things go together.
My first daughter was born in early 1998. To get ready for my house-bound life, I bought a bunch of home gym equipment (a bunch of dumbbells, a bench and a bike) with the very best of intentions. Suffice to say, said equipment sat idly for about two years. Apologies for the cliche about the weights and exercise bike being used to hold up drying laundry, but it's true (except that we had a dryer, so it's not really true). In other words, I followed the well worn path of many men in their 30's: physical fitness abandonment.
The new millennium (a new dawn, even)
In the beginning of 2000, my second daughter was born, and I joined Weight Watchers as employee (and member). I knew that I really was going to have to get into an exercise routine if I was going to do the program seriously. Having a toddler and a baby forced me to better appreciate the quiet times, so I started early morning expeditions down to my basement where I kept my set of vintage (two years old) exercise equipment. I bought a book of weight lifting routines, and I made myself a mix tape that I was really into. Suddenly it clicked.
I started looking forward to listening to my mix and the time to myself. I also started doing helpful little tricks like setting my clothing out the night before. Next thing I knew, my dank, grimy basement became a minor oasis. My friends referred to it as my Silence of the Lambs workout room, except without the whole serial killer thing.
This was the year I became a workout person. This was the year exercise became a fixture in my life. It takes a long time for a new habit (like working out) to become a second nature behavior. I suppose it is why so many people start to exercise and then quit after a month. For me, I had to find the hook that made it enjoyable or at least have something about it to look forward. In my case, an outstanding mix (I fancy myself quite the DJ) and a little me time at the break of dawn did the trick.