Channeling My Inner Athlete

I’ve always been active and considered myself athletic. With two older brothers looking out for me–both athletes and both several years older than me–I could throw a football in a perfect spiral and sink a layup in basketball before I was in fourth grade (i.e. before most of the boys my age), and I swam competitively from age 9 to age 13. I never believed there was anything physical I couldn’t do, and do well. Okay, except for skiing and that’s only because it hurt (my knees turn in when my feet are straight, making it painful to ski for any length of time). My fall from fitness had nothing to do with being unable to exercise and be active and everything to do with just not moving my body.

It became abundantly clear to me a few years ago that I needed to stop with the excuses and start moving. Last year, from spring to late fall, Mr. W and I decided to try to walk every day (at least, when the weather cooperated) for at least an hour. If we weren’t able to walk outside, I generally tried to do some sort of physical workout indoors, though I confess the word that best described those workouts was sporadic.

As part of my goal to lose weight and become more fit this year, I’ve committed to being active every day. In order to track our activity, I created a chart using Post-It flip-chart graph paper and taped it to the wall in a prominent place (using painter’s tape!). The chart is divided into 7 weeks, and each week is divided into days. Mr. W and I write our activities on the chart in brightly colored markers. It’s very satisfying to watch the chart fill up!

I’ve channeled my inner athlete and increased the frequency and intensity of my workouts. When we moved to Oregon, we knew we faced longer and more severe winters than we were used to in San Jose. Instead of joining a fitness club or gym, we invested in a couple of pieces of workout equipment for our home. First was a rowing machine. Mr W enjoys rowing, but for some reason I find it boring as all hell. However, I will occasionally row as a way of changing up my routine.

The second piece of equipment we purchased was a treadmill. Once I made the “be active daily” commitment, I started walking on the treadmill more frequently. I never thought I’d actually prefer working out using equipment, but I’ve fallen in love with my treadmill! In December, I was doing well if I walked for 40 minutes a couple of times a week (without raising the incline). I’m now walking on the treadmill at least 5 times a week for 60 minutes, and usually with an incline.

In addition to the treadmill (and occasional rowing machine), my workouts include yoga, light weight work, and a step routine–not always on the same day, of course. We’ve also taken up bowling as a fun and inexpensive way to keep active indoors during the winter. When we bowl, we use two lanes and rarely take breaks. I figure throwing a 12 pound ball down a lane for 60 to 70 minutes is a decent activity. 🙂

My yoga routine is taken from Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Yoga exercise plan. I’ve been using this book as a reference since I was in my teens and I put my own routine together from the exercises I enjoy doing.

My weight routine consists of using 3-5 lb dumbbells: bicep curls, military press, upright row, bent over dumbbell reverse fly, one arm standing tricep extension or tricep kickbacks. In the next few weeks I will start adding squats, lunges, pushups and situps to my weight work.

Here’s what a week’s workout might look like:

Day 1: Treadmill 60 minutes, varying incline from 7 to 3

Day 2: Yoga (20-30 minutes), Weights (3 sets of 10 each exercise)

Day 3: Yoga (20 minutes), Weights (2 sets of 10 each), Treadmill 60 minutes doing windsprints (alternating 60 second sprints with 60-120 second recovery), cooling down with fast walk for 10-15 minutes

Day 4: Yoga (20-30 minutes), Step routine (45-50 minutes)

Day 5: Bowling (60-70 minutes)

Day 6: Yoga (20-30 minutes), Weights (2 sets of 10 each), Treadmill 60 minutes, varying incline from 7 to 3

Day 7: Yoga (30 minutes)

Each week varies, of course, but so far this is fairly typical. I must say, I have more energy and feel better than I have in quite awhile.

How do you stay active during the winter? How about year around? I’m always on the lookout for additional activities to incorporate into my workout routines. 🙂

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