The Highlight of My Weekend

At some point yoga became the highlight of my weekends. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was just supposed to be something that I happened to do.

But it wasn’t just something that I did. In Starkville at Firefly Yoga, it was taking away my mornings. In Stillwater at Red Earth Yoga, it steals the middle of the day. I was having to dedicate real time to these things.

I didn’t realize what would happen as a result. Ashtanga is a special kind of evil yoga that goes after pretty much every muscle, even ones I didn’t know I had.

Because I couldn’t lift after a shoulder issue kept me out of the weight room for a while, I quit the gym in Mississippi and was left with yoga as my only real source of upper body strength training. For the most part, that’s not going to cut it. Ashtanga disagreed. More specifically, 58 vinyasas disagreed.

I almost threw up the first time I went to an ashtanga class. This was something I had to take seriously.

I started making sure I was prepped for class. I generally wouldn’t run the day before class. I was getting a good night’s rest. It was still kicking my ass, but I was getting used to it.

Flash forward to the move, and I had a new studio to acclimate to. I had the luxury of a weekend ashtanga class again, but I had to deal with it a new time, a time I didn’t want to spend sweating on a synthetic mat.

After a few weeks of procrastinating, I finally made it in. I then proceeded to attempt dying after 90 minutes of 90-degree yoga. It was brutal. I was wiped. But I made it. And that’s what matters.

I’ve been back a few more times, and as I’ve acclimated to the heat, I’ve started being able to make it through class somewhat successfully. A few weeks ago, I was able to do all but a couple of the vinyasas available to us. Last week I did them all.

Crap. You know what that means. Time to make it harder on myself.

Once I started doing ashtanga here, I went from 3 weight room sessions to 2 so I could have the rest before masochism took place. It was working. I was about as fresh as I could hope for going into ashtanga, but now that I’m no longer dying, I decided that lifting the day before might not hurt so bad. I took it relatively easy, but I was still lifting. I woke with sore shoulders that were bound to appreciate all the vinyasas I could throw at them.

And I threw the vinyasas at them. I lucked out. The studio was in the 60s when we arrived because someone turned the heater off (the windchill hit low 20s this morning), so it took a while for the studio to heat up. My shoulders still hate me, but I survived again.

So in the middle of the pie-eating contest that is academia (and the prize is more pie), I keep adjusting my week around 90 minutes in a musty studio.

And I’m cool with that.

Adios, dorks.

-Q

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The Gym Newbies

College towns. No matter which one you’re in, there’s a certain predictability.

Summers turn the place into a ghost town. And August brings new students and worse, new parents.

But there’s another predictability: The start-of-term fitness kick.

You see all types. There are the regulars. The people who were here before the crush, will be here through the crush, and will breathe more easily in their supersets after the crush.

Then you have the people who USED to be regulars. They know what they’re doing; they just can’t quite do it as well any more.

And then there are the newbies. They’re easy to spot. They’re tentative in figuring out what to do. No real purpose. They’re awkward in what they do (and sometimes end up on Reddit for their failed efforts). And they just aren’t strong yet. The weights are light and the muscle tone hasn’t arrived yet.

I would venture to say most regulars don’t hate the newbies or used-to-be regulars. They genuinely want them to succeed, but they also know they probably won’t.

Most of the used-to-be-regulars and the newbies will fall of the wagon eventually. Some of them will even get run over by the wagon on the way down.

And why? They don’t know how to maintain. They don’t know how to make it a part of their lives instead of just trying to add it to their lives. They’ll get busy. They’ll get tired. They’ll get bored.

Whatever happens, they stop. Every term, every year. It’s always the same. After about a month, the gym starts to empty out a little, and the community that was assesses the damage to see who survived. What comrades did they lose? What comrades did they gain? And all the while, they knew the majority of the non-regulars wouldn’t last.

And here’s the worst part: I’m one of them. I rarely survive the wave myself. I might be able to ride it a little further, but I always fall off the wagon for one reason or another.

I’ve been a part of this push a few times, and I can only think of two times where I rode the wave. Unfortunately, even then, I wouldn’t be able to sustain into the next terms. I would always fall off.

I don’t know how to fix it. All I can do is my best to pay attention to past patterns of failure and success.

One of the few bright spots for me was yoga. With the exception of a summer when I was at least lifting, I stayed consistent with yoga during my 3 years in Mississippi. And how? One, it was a part of my schedule. I literally booked it. Two, I enjoyed it. I found teachers I liked, which helped me get through it all (and when those teachers disappeared, I stopped going to class).

Scheduling is what I think was the most difficult part of lifting. I don’t like crowds, so afternoons are a rough time to go to the gym. The early morning is the only other way to get around the workday, but eventually I get tired and I don’t maintain so well. And I fall off.

But what about going around lunch? I’d never given that a try, but I think it’s come to that. Luckily, this gym is closer to me that the ones in Florida and Mississippi were, so that makes walking more doable, cutting down on gas and time.

I don’t know if this will stick and I’ll get to be a regular again, but I know I have to keep trying.

Recapping the First Week with New Gym

I’m not overly fond of the general update/recap thing, especially when there is no real accomplishment (e.g., finishing a race). I prefer to have an idea to share or a story to tell. But sometimes you can learn from someone else’s process, and I suppose getting started somewhere new is an accomplishment in itself.

It all started with an idea. And that idea was that I didn’t want to die of a heart attack at 40.

After getting into a good swing of things with yoga in May and June, things got completely derailed in July as I was prepping to move, then moving (and I have some stories to tell about that), and getting settled after the move.

Basically, I stopped working out and started eating like I wanted to have a heart attack at 40 (lots of battered food). I knew this would be problematic. One, I just can’t treat my body like that without paying a price. Two, my mental health will go to crap if I don’t pick up my activity level.

So that’s where the idea starts.

Two posts ago, I mentioned some perks to the new job: free gym access and massage therapists on campus.

I technically started work last week, but I was out of state most of the week and blatantly exhausted the rest of the week. I vaguely considered yoga when the weekend came around, but I still wasn’t having it. By the time Monday rolled around, I knew it was time to do something, so I packed my gym bag and mentally prepared myself to re-enter the world of the college rec center.

Did I mention I’m not overly fond of those rec centers? There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but they’re filled with people who are 18-22. Did I mention I teach people who are 18-22? It’s just weird to see a student in the gym, especially as I’m slogging on an elliptical because my knee has vetoed running.

As I got into the right mental headspace, I put on my clothes, tied my shoes, and put on my wireless earbuds so I could roll into the gym.

I drove. It was a 1-minute drive. It’s a 5-minute walk. I’m lazy.

Not being familiar with the gym, I didn’t even really know where the entrance was or where I could park. I just assumed something would work out as I got ready to work out.

Getting into the gym is a little confusing. It’s an odd layout when you walk in. There’s no obvious direction to find anything. I’m still not sure if the weight area I found is the only weight area. Same for cardio equipment.

But that’s ok. It had what I needed and wasn’t too crowded (in between terms right now).

I had my plan typed into my phone, so I got to plugging away. As soon as I could find an elliptical that was on. I have a genuine dislike of cardio machines, especially when I can’t tell how to turn them on or if they’re already on but just sleeping. So that was 3 minutes wasted.

I finally found an elliptical machine and turns out they’re not all the same. The one at physical therapy let me adjust the length of the strides and resistance. The ones at the rec center let me address angle of the steps and resistance. I burned out my glutes in 5 minutes because I was basically doing a slow climb. Do not recommend.

Lifting was mostly an entertaining fiasco after such a long layoff. I loaded what I thought was reasonable to find out it was too heavy, then I’d go light on the next thing to avoid issues and swing the other way. And then I did single-leg deadlift and tried not to fall on my face in public. Entertaining all around.

Upper body was mostly cut the first day to avoid issues, but I got all of my leg work and most of my core work.

The next day I realized I made a fatal error: I didn’t foam roll. Whoops. Foam rolling the next day is a good way to make a grown-ass man cry.

I returned midweek but went to the other rec center (they’re adjacent to each other). The other is smaller and usually frequented by faculty instead of students, but it doesn’t have the same amount of equipment (or in some cases the same equipment). That said, it has what I need, so awesome. This went a little better because I knew where I was at physically.

And the day after that? Massage time.

The free rec center is the most important thing for practicality. But the MT on campus was the thing I was most excited about.

And it was fantastic.

Another small-framed lady like my last MT, but this one lived with her elbows digging into my muscles. Seriously, have another happy dance:

She did a great job, and I was comfortable. It took 6 months to find the right place in Mississippi. It took another 3 to find the right person I stuck with. Took me 3 weeks here.

And the bonus? I had to drive 60 miles roundtrip and pay $20 more for the same thing in Mississippi. This is a serious perk.

Two lifting sessions chased by a brutal massage session. And how do we close the week? Back in the weight room.

I made it in the late morning, and there was no one else working out. It was glorious. The workout was kind of meh as I baby myself, including a rogue shoulder, but something is better than nothing.

And what’s on tap? Yoga class. I’d say things are looking good.

Making a Plan for the Gym

What gets measured gets done.

It’s an old adage, but it rings true. If you want to see you change, you need to document it.

But that’s only part of the battle. The other part is making a plan. You need a plan so you can actually hit your numbers.

I’m getting ready to re-enter the gym for the first time in almost two years. I had a shoulder issue (re: I still have a shoulder issue) that sidelined me, and it didn’t seem worth paying for a gym membership if there was a decent risk I couldn’t do many things. Now I have a free membership through work, so cost isn’t an option. I’m going to venture into the gym so I can try to get back to lifting and also keep up my PT exercises that I’ve completely neglected the past couple of months (in fairness, I was doing a lot of yoga, which gets the same muscles, mostly).

I can hear your thoughts: “Q, if you have a plan to succeed, what the hell do you need to tell us for?”

A couple of reasons.

The first, and the most important, telling people matters. Whether it’s something like working out (like the Super Awesome Year of the 5K) or asking that attractive gal out (winks at cute yoga girl)

I’m a lot more likely to follow through if I tell people I’m going to do it. It’s peer pressure. It’s a good version of peer pressure.

The second is I haven’t written in a while. Turns out a knee injury does wonders to derail a running blog (even a running blog about hating running; actually, at this point, I guess I should just call this a wellness blog). I haven’t been great about posting in part because I just can’t be active in the same ways that I was. I’m mostly just trying to manage things until my knee either decides it stops hating me or I get surgery.

And third, maybe this will help one of the five people who reads this far. Sometimes you hope you actually help someone out. Sometimes.

Alright, let’s get to it. Some ground rules. When I go to the gym, I’m getting the whole body. There are no leg days. There are no upper body days.

I don’t have a lot of time for lifting, and I still want to keep yoga in my routine (because my back will not allow other options).

The other thing resembling a rule is I need to keep up the PT exercises for my knee. I can’t do what I used to do in the weight room in more ways than one.

Let’s track this the way we’ll go through the workout:

First a warm up. I hate that it’s come to this: 8 minutes on the elliptical. Because it mimics running without the impact, PTs said I could do this. Ugh. I’ve also taken up jump rope, but no telling if there will be one there (and I’m not taking mine).

Next, let’s take care of those legs. This will be a few more things, so let’s see some bullets:

  • Leg press. One leg at a time. Also ugh. I’d rather just do squat. Stupid machine. I think I was going light at about 70 pounds in PT. I’ll probably up it some, and it’ll be ridiculously easy for the good leg, but balance is balance.
  • Weighted calf raises. I jumped rope for like a minute yesterday. My calves were burning. I need to do more calf raises.
  • Lunges. Multiple lunges. I’ll probably only do one or two of the varieties per workout, but these are the ones in my wheelhouse now:
    • Walking lunges – We all know this one well. It’s like the slowest way to travel from point A to point B. Seriously, crossfitters do their handstand walks quicker than you can travel doing lunges.
    • Lunge matrix – Forward, side, back. I may default to this one because it gets a lot of movement in.
    • Trail leg lunges – This just involves leaving your back leg elevated on something and dropping into your lunge.
  • Single-leg deadlift. Otherwise known as pick up the golfball. It’s not too different from warrior III in yoga. Just add weight. This one is neat because it fries my hamstring with weight and flexibility. I have issues.

Now the fun stuff. Upper body:

  • Bench. Finally. Something I know. I alternate days between dumbbell bench and barbell. I take a wide grip on the barbell and dumbbells keep my arms in tighter, so they amount to a slightly different workload.
  • Rows. Every push deserves a pull. I tend to do seated cable rows but some barbell rows get thrown in. I also do some rows with dumbbells and inverted rows, but the first two are the main ones. I have a crappy posture, so rows are a must.
  • Overhead dumbbell press. This is where I have to start being careful. This is what got my shoulder a couple of years ago, but it’s also a favorite of mine because it works the muscles that will help you look good in a shirt. I’m vain, but it’s hard to ignore that shoulders are an easy muscle to see a difference in.
  • Lat pulldowns. This isn’t where I got hurt, but I also have to be careful here because of shoulder mobility.
  • Lateral raises. Again, another shoulder exercise.
  • Shrugs. Maybe. This or upright rows, but this seems less stressful for my shoulders.
  • Bicep curls. ’cause people need tickets to the gun show. I alternate between dumbbells and a curl bar.
  • Tricep extensions. ’cause no one wants to be the guy who only does bicep curls. Might as well do them in the squat rack if you’re going to be that guy. Overhead with dumbbell and push-down with V bar are my rotations.

Now for the stuff I truly hate: core. If you ever see me actively annoyed in a weight room, I was working on core. Ideally, I’ll do all of these each workout. I’m already annoyed.

  • Planks. Another of the more important exercises I do because of cruddy posture from sitting in at a desk all day. Usually I shoot for 3 sets of 30 seconds, but PT introduced a new variety this round: 20 5-second holds. The time load is similar, but it just doesn’t feel the same.
  • Side planks. See planks.
  • Dying mermaids. Side plank with a dip or lift is a more common phrase. I like my PT’s label better. You start with your hip down and then lift it to a side plank. Holy crap this one will get you. And you’ll look like a dying mermaid. A sweaty, dying mermaid.
  • Plank rotations. Start in plank, open to a side plank, back to plank, open to the other side plank. Repeat. With this, I really have to watch my form so my hips don’t dip or rise.
  • Plank with shoulder taps. I like this one because there can be a speed element. I default to forearm planks because I want the core work, not the shoulder work of a high plank. This one variety forces me into a high plank, and then you’re lifting a hand and tapping the opposite shoulder, alternating hands. The big thing to watch here is that you aren’t swaying. You’re trying to keep your body as still as possible. Even tutorial videos don’t always get this part right.
  • Side planks with leg swings. If you’re still with us, you might drop your hip down and let it rest. This one involves swinging the higher leg back and forth tapping it down on each end of the swing. It doesn’t seem like much, especially if you drop your hip, but you’ll feel it after 3 sets of 10-15.

That’s it for the plan. There are some other things I still need to be doing for PT (namely a variety of dynamic stretches and lateral movements, but they all involve those elastic bands that I’ve got at home). I just need to build them into my morning routine.

Otherwise, that’s a pretty full workout as it is. I hope you found something useful. If not, I really just wasted your time and I have ZERO shame about it.

Let you know how it goes, sports fans. Adios.

-Q

Phases of Improvement: Brainwashing My Way to a Six-Pack

Health, fitness, wellness, whatever you want to call it, is an iterative process. You don’t get from point A to point B by just piling on ad nauseum. You have to be methodical about the process.

If you’re just going blindly, you run a few risks. First, you could really hurt yourself if you add too much too soon. Second, you could just burn out on the process if you overdo it. Third, you might get nothing because you don’t really have set goals for what you want to accomplish. Fourth, well, I don’t have a fourth thing. Fifth, you’re going to be inefficient in your process. Hey, I guess I had a fourth thing after all.

Recently, I’ve upped my effort again. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to maintain it, but I know I’ve got a better shot right now than I had at the beginning of the year.

I thought I’d walk you through the process. It worked for me, but it may not be right for you. It’s a very slow build, which may drive some people nuts. At the same time, there are people much busier than me who may not even be able to sneak this in.

I guess you’d say the base started after moving and doing yoga twice a week. I’d injured cartilage in my chest about 9 months prior to that, so my workouts had been derailed in that time. This was a nice intro back into physical activity for me. This was also when I dropped 10 pounds. This was about a four-month period. Toward the end, I started realizing that I needed more overall activity, so I started parking farther away at work and began contemplating the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.

This gets us to the next stage: adding running. For about the next five months, I was doing three to four workouts a week, mixing running and yoga, with running taking priority. Just adding running had a big impact on my personal time. I was already noticing I had a lot less of it, and running could leave me wiped and unable to actually enjoy that time on many occasions.

Then in May I added weights at the expense of yoga. I was doing four to five workouts a week, mixing running and lifting as best I could. Because they both can be pretty impactful, causing a good deal of soreness if I pushed too hard, I had to be careful with both. I still threw in some light yoga every now and then, but I wasn’t nearly consistent enough to consider a part of the routine, and it usually only lasted a few minutes, enough time for me to basically stretch out achy muscles.

And now, we’ve gone off the deep end. I’ve been recommitting to yoga, which means my week can have up to 6 workouts (2 of each), depending on my schedule and timing of 5Ks. I’ve actually worked it so that I have 3 rest days, which is nice. It means I know I’ve got a couple of days that are going to eat my lunch, but I also know that once it’s done, it’s done. The trick with this schedule, especially early, is that I can’t push very hard in any individual workout. I’m trying to get a good balance, but if I tweak a muscle in one, then the other two workouts are in jeopardy and could lead to more injury.

So far, so good in the new routine. I’m being very careful with how I manage my time and how I fuel and rest so that I can keep up the pace. At some point, I’m sure a curveball will come in and send a week completely astray, but the longer I can maintain, the easier it will be to get back in the cycle when I fall out of the cycle. And if I survive this, I’m going to look freakin’ awesome. Like seriously. Reality show producers will want to follow me just to bask in my awesomeness. They won’t even want to film me because they’ll know my level of awesome is simply unattainable for mere mortals.

But yeah, so how is all this working out for me? Well, the 10 pounds I dropped last fall were pretty much it. I’ve fluctuated some a little above and a little below that, but that 10 pounds has pretty much been it for weight loss. Now because of the increased activity, I’d at least like to think there has been some weight redistribution that’s occurred.

Now there is one caveat to all of this: No matter what, adding more workouts means you lose other leisure time. This is something I’m really struggling with. I like to play guitar. I like to read. I like to veg out and watch TV shows occasionally.

These things have taken a serious hit over the past year, and aren’t going to get any better in the coming months if I maintain my workout regimen.

I’ve had to get more creative. I watch TV as I eat, do dishes, etc. I sneak in reading time whenever I would otherwise be goofing off on my phone at odd moments (thank you e-reader apps). The guitar hasn’t really been helped, but I do try to be more mindful to play on the days that I’m not swamped with work or workouts.

So that’s that. I’m trying push myself a little further without getting crazy. Who knows? Maybe I’ll push myself easily enough and far enough that I’ll be in great shape without even realizing what I did to myself.

Party on, Wayne.

-Q

#ihaterunning

An Early Review of the Clif Builder Bar

I have a problem.

I suppose we could just stop there and the people who know me can go, “yep.” But let’s be more specific.

I have a problem. When I work out, my appetite spikes and makes it almost impossible to eat within healthy limits. Fatty’s always a jerk, and he only gets worse when I’m active.

The problem is compounded when I lift.

This happens for two reasons. One, lifting just spikes my appetite more. For two days, I will want to eat every piece of food in sight. Probably just the nature of breaking down muscle more in lifting than running. Two, I lift in the morning versus running in the afternoon. After a run, I’m going to eat supper anyway, so it doesn’t really matter if I’m hungrier. I at least get some food.

With lifting and trying to control what I was eating, I was waiting until lunch to eat again. I have to eat before I lift, so that was breakfast. I would have a handful of peanuts, but that wasn’t doing the trick, and then I was bingeing at lunch (Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the bingeing and honestly don’t regret like the addict I am).

Finally, I decided to do something I’d been dodging for a while. I was going to eat a protein bar.

I’d always avoided them because I associate them with serious lifters. I’m not a serious anything related to fitness. I mean, I hate running and I still try to provide a comedic take on this non-trafficked blog. It just didn’t mesh with my self-image within the fitness realm. Seemed unnecessary.

But I couldn’t take the hunger. I had to try.

So I went looking for a protein bar. A friend recommended Quest bars, but they were only sold individually, and I’m stingy. I saw the Clif Builder’s bars and at least recognized the brand, even if I’m not sold on all it’s selling.

http://www.clifbar.com/products/builders/builders

So that was a long way to get to the real story: the review of the bar.

I should go with why I bought the bar I bought. It was unadulterated chocolate. No peanut butter, no mint. Just chocolate. I’m a simple man with simple needs.

I also opted for a protein bar versus other types of bars because I knew what I needed. I didn’t need energy. I just needed to not feel like I was starving. The obscene amount of protein (20g) and fat (9g, 6g saturated) took care of that. I’m not a fan of the sugar content, but you can’t win them all.

The gluten-free (they don’t use those ingredients, but they still can’t guarantee it’s gluten free because of how they make them, whatever that means) and GMO-free claims are things I could care less about. There’s no evidence those are actually useful attributes, but they sell you that if you care to buy it.

This is partially why I’ve dodged Clif bars so long. Seemed like hippy food. I am not a hippy.

As I ate the bar, I was fearful. I didn’t know how I’d react to it. I’ve never eaten anything like it, and there are a lot of different nutrients in those suckers. I was sitting, waiting for something bad to occur, but all was well.

Of course, eating the bar was interesting. It’s not a big bar. It tastes fine. But I was also aware that I was eating dense food and it felt like it as I was consuming the matter. It’s not like eating potato chips. There was no absentmindedly eating this thing. It was a chore, honestly.

But it worked. I survived until lunch.

And things got weird.

In the afternoon, I was dealing with mixed feelings. There was part of me that wanted absolutely no part of food. That part was still being affected by the bar. There was also a part of me that still just wanted food. And I genuinely felt hungry in a way, not just absentmindedly wanting food.

It’s like eating an obnoxiously big meal and reaching your next meal, knowing you want to eat but also just being weighed down by the last meal.

I don’t know if the hunger was psychological or just me wanted more food to eat in earnest. I had all the nutrients I needed to get by, but a bar is not a meal.

But again, it worked. I got through the day without eating everything in sight. The only other snacks I had were a couple of handfuls of peanuts and a banana after supper.

All in all, we’ll call it a win. I also had a true Clif bar for the first time today just as a regular snack. I’m realizing those hippies do make good food, even if they are hippies.

That said, the Builder bar will never be a true snack. No part of that sounds healthy or like a good idea. Maybe I’ll give the protein bar a try after running just to see how it goes, but if nothing else, it works for lifting.

-Q

#ihaterunning

The Fitness Trifecta: Running vs. Yoga vs. Lifting

I think the first thing to be acknowledged is that my spirit animal is the Hulk.

I’m not sure why that’s important, but I’m certain that it is.

I digress (probably). Recently I decided it was time to start lifting again. I’ve shied away for a couple of reasons. First, it’s been a long time since I’ve lifted regularly (3 years). Second, there’s the issue of scheduling. Because it’s the Super Awesome Year of the 5K, I have to run. I try to run at least twice a week, three if I’m on my game (I’m rarely on my game). I also try to make yoga a priority, for reasons that I’ll elaborate on later. I try to do that twice a week, three if I’m on my game (I haven’t been on my game since I started running). If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 4 days already accounted for.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Q, can’t you do more than one of these a day?” Probably, but I’m lazy. Very lazy. I spent 5 minutes thinking “I’m thirsty.” I was about 15 feet from the sink that gives me water. It took 5 minutes for me to work up the energy to stand up and get water. And that felt a bit hasty.

The other issue is that I don’t want to overdo it and hurt myself (I’ll tell you the weightlifting story in a minute, and maybe my crossfit story if you’re lucky).

So onto the heart of this story. I’m now back to where I was a long time ago. I’m running, lifting, and doing yoga. I’m sure I will be an athletic specimen to be marveled at by scientists across the globe.

Or not. Whatever.

I’m sure we all know what running, lifting, and yogaing (just go with it) are. I’m sure you know the benefits. Each has research articles out the wazoo talking about the benefits (and how they can go horribly wrong).

But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about what they mean to me. I have a favorite, but I recognize each as having their value. Sort of like the kids from Captain Planet.

No one really appreciates the girl producing wind, but it serves a purpose.

And without further ado:

Running

Have to start with the theme of the blog. In terms of my overall fitness, running is the most important. Easily.

I got winded walking around one day. Casually. Winded casually walking. That’s inexcusable for someone under 200 pounds.

And so I started running. Conditioning is still the weakest thing for me. Always has been, always will be. There’s no getting around that. But running at least makes things more manageable. And I get to run for 15 minutes and people will thinking I’ve been running for 10 miles based on how tired I am (and I occasionally tell strangers I ran 10 miles; I’m not above lying).

In terms of time commitment, I can get a lot of calories burned over a manageable period of time. Running out of doors, my workouts go 30-60 minutes. That’s 400-800 calories. That’s almost a good meal. It’s not a quick commitment, but at the same time, it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Running also benefits the other activities. Like I said, I get out of shape easily. Things like yoga and lifting, which I don’t do either in a cardio-intensive manner, leave me short of breath. Running has made it so that my muscles are fatigued, not me.

The problem with running is that it takes the worst toll on my body, even when I’m being careful. A good run can make me feel like I’ve survived a car wreck. I’m not built for distance, and my body likes to remind me of that when it can.

6 months into running, and I still feel like my legs have been shot after running. My back isn’t taking the toll it used to, so there’s that.

Yoga

Yoga is the most important for my overall wellness/wellbeing. Seems counterintuitive to say one’s good for fitness and the other’s good for wellness, but stick with me here.

Yoga is what allows me to function. The main reason I started doing yoga was pain management for my back. I didn’t really understand at the time that strengthening your core would help back pain; I just knew that yoga is supposed to help back pain. I thought it was just the stretching.

After doing yoga just about every day for a few weeks, I saw lots of benefits. The back pain went away, but my knee also started behaving better, too. I also noticed my posture was better.

In relation to the other activities, yoga makes it possible for me to keep running and lifting. All the crap the other two put me through get taken care of, mostly, through yoga. There’s not really a whole lot to say about yoga except that it’s like maintenance.

But yoga has its drawbacks. One, I’m terribly inconsistent if I’m doing it on my own. I’m lazy (see above). I started going to a studio to help with that, but the studio’s not a perfect option. I still do it some at home, but I’m usually not in the mood to push myself through a good session. In a class, I always go at least 60 minutes. At home, it’s usually 5-15. At my best, I’ve done a 45-minute session. This inconsistency means I don’t get the most from my sessions, though it’s still better than doing nothing.

The other downside is that yoga, while awesome overall, doesn’t do much for calories. In a class, I’m looking at about 200 calories burned over an hour. At home because I’m a slacker, it can get all the way down to 20. It’s hard to justify bingeing afterward, and I so enjoy the bingeing.

Lifting

And last, we get to my favorite. Lifting is the one that produces the most visible results the quickest.

A good session of running leaves me drenched in sweat and exhausted. A good session of yoga leaves me feeling like every piece of tension has vacated the premises. A good session of lifting leaves me drenched in sweat and feeling like the Hulk.

I knew the Hulk reference would make sense later.

I get some strength from yoga. I get some strength from running. But I get a lot of strength from lifting. And there’s muscle memory sticking around for years that helps me fall back into form much more quickly than I can in yoga or running.

And again, the changes are more visible more quickly. If you want a lifting hack, focus on your back, chest, and shoulders. That’s where changes show up the easiest through a t-shirt. Just don’t skip leg day.

The Hulk is all over the place today.

The other big benefit that lifting has is that I can get my best workout in under 30 minutes, whereas running and yoga can run up to 60 minutes.

Even taking on all the stations I can really take on, I never need more than 30 minutes, assuming I’m not dawdling. I can 8 to 10 stations easy (though not easily).

There are a couple of drawbacks. Because of the nature of tiring out muscles, yoga and running results will take a dip in the short term as I adjust to the new addition to my routine. The other drawback, comparatively, is the lower calorie burn. A full workout is only about 120 calories. That said, I simply become a more awesome, fuel-burning machine in the long run, so we can view it as an investment.

In Summation

In an idea world, I’ll be able to balance all of these and would somehow make doing each three days a week and including a day of rest work. Problem is that I’m still lazy. It’s not going to happen. I don’t really want to do more than one a day. At best, I can lift and run on the same days, but I feel like I’d be biting my running routine if I put in a full weight session, at least right now (I used to run 2 miles before lifting, so it is sort of plausible).

Here in the real world, 2 X 2 X 2 is more realistic, with a day on the weekend to rest. The trick to making this fully work is finding a good routine of it. One of the days for the weekend has to go to running. I’m going to binge on the weekend anyways, so I might as well feel like I’ve earned it. I can just balance in my second run some time during the week. Weights are also easy (for now) because I can just throw them into the morning to start my day (and jumpstart my appetite in a way that I can’t even fathom when I’m only running).

Yoga’s the real trickster. I really need to be in classes, but the studio I go to is on a lightened schedule, so the class I like is only offered sparsely, and I don’t know if the classes at my gym will work (this will be investigated in the near future). Worst-case is that I keep doing lighter yoga at home. If nothing else, it’s a stretching routine, even if it isn’t full-blown yoga.

But we’ll find a way. If I can’t make it up those stupid effing hills from the last 5K, I can make this routine work.

-Q

#ihaterunning