Monday, February 25, 2013

Decadethlon – Lesssons Learned: Underperforming vs. Overtraining, The Ultimate Orange Crush, and How Chocolate, Fashion Magazines and TV Contribute to a Healthy Workout Schedule

So what are some of the lessons learned from over a decade of tracking workouts?

Underperforming (ie- relaxing on the couch, napping, breathing deeply with your eyes closed dreaming about your next piece of chocolate or other vice) is actually healthy. Instead of depriving oneself of these things, reward yourself with rest, you work hard, so rest hard and with resolve. Relaxing without guilt is something I will probably never learn, but I do try.

Overtraining (ie- genus gymus ratus) can get you killed, or at least injured. Let me tell you a little story called “The Ultimate Orange Crush.” This past fall I was working intensely toward my Orange Belt in Tae Kwon Do as well as performing three routines (including one with a stick!) at a tournament in front of 250 people, judges and the whole nine yards. I did nothing but practice for this, kicking punching, twirling my stick and basically looking like a Mom Gone Mad on the playground with my wooden stick. I should have MIXED IT UP, like gone swimming, run on the treadmill, sat on the bike, taken naps instead of done the dishes and walking around the house in a sleep-deprived stupor. No, no, I just had my eye on the Orange prize. My arms were more toned than ever, I won bronze, silver and gold (gold for the stick routine!) and earned my Orange Belt. But my intensity brought on foot tendonitis, an old college injury back to haunt me. I had to stop walking. Walking! My injury was kept rife thanks to the holiday season and hours on my feet in the kitchen. I had to miss this year’s Triathlon. I was crushed. I still am. The tendonitis nags me. I still can’t wear heels, run or even use the bike. No yoga, even. (Luckily, some light pilates is okay.) Moral of the story: Mix it up. Mixing it up keeps you balanced and interested, like anything else in life. There is a fine line between chaos and civilization. Similarly, there is an ever-diminishing line as one ages between benefitting from an activity and doing harm to yourself. I will probably never really follow the Everything in Moderation rule, but I do try.

Working out is Hard Work! Getting to the gym or doing a workout is not always, in fact usually, is not easy to do. And in order to remain healthy in general, epsecially when you live in an urban environment, you have to eat well, sleep well, balance the rest of your life like work and family and the annoying admin that adulthood brings on, and overall be totally organized and emotionally stable. So basically, it’s impossible. But I’m not (always) a pessimist. You have to convince yourself it’s fun, and there are several strategies to achieve this:

Adding Chocolate, Fashion Magazines and TV to your Routine can greatly enhance your performance. How? By making it fun! Simple. Read your book, flip through fashion mags on the treadmill, get your TV or iPad fix on the recline-a-bike, absolutely listen to music that pumps up your jam. You’ll have fun and feel good after the workout. Double good! Then eat that piece (or in my case, pieces) of chocolate.

Eat! A friend of mine said, “It’s all about the calories,” and she may be right. Still, I’d recommend eating a balance (there’s that B word again) of protein, carbs and fat balanced diet (my favorite being almonds and chocolate), drinking liquids and “exersizing almost daily,” to quote my doctor. Don’t be afraid of food, but know what the right food is for you. And enjoy it! Food is truly a joy of life, and seems to take a lifetime to understand how much of it and what kinds one needs, but that’s part of the fun. You can get really technical with Body Mass Indices, etc. Lots of resources online can help with this. Or you can just make sure you balance every meal: protein for your muscles, fat to feel satiated and carbs because who doesn’t love carbs?!

Remember: Just Track it! Have I improved over a decade plus of working out? Well, maybe a little, but the point is more perhaps that I am working out at all, and keeping track of the workouts is helping me continue to do them. So, log your workouts! It’s satisfying to review the log, while you munch on that chocolate bar (with almonds, always!) Remember you need to convince yourself it’s fun. Set yourself goals. My goal is to keep the number of workouts to 20 days per month (or higher, but that’s getting over-zealous of me again), whatever those might consist of.

And do try some soccer, Tae Kwon Do, or ballet, something new you didn’t think you were good at or could even do. You might just find a new addiction, and some new friends along the way.

Now if I could only find a way to log my kids’ time spent on the iPad (new app idea?)…..

While this concludes the Decadethlon series, I thought I’d add another blog entry next time on Gear, because that makes it fun, too: a new pair of sneakers, some fun tracking gadget, or tummy-hugging yoga pants. And music, of course! So watch for those Links and Thinks in the next episode.

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