I spent last work week getting a different type of exercise in every morning before work. It was a challenge to myself, because I am looking for ways to use my time more efficiently while getting healthier.
For the past few months, I have been replacing one meal (99% of the time lunch) with a salad during the work week, and at least in the beginning it helped me to shave off a few pounds. Now the pounds have plateaued, but since starting exercising (other than walking- I’ve been doing that for a while), I feel and look better, at least to myself. And if exercising is going to make my self image healthier, well, bring it on!
The Toxic Spiral of Negative Self Image
I know from experience that it doesn’t matter how many pounds I lose or how thin I become. I am never going to be happy if I can’t look at myself and feel confident about it. I used to be 105lbs at 5’4. I was skinny. But I remember thinking about how fat and lumpy I am, and wishing I were skinnier, even back then.
It’s kind of ludicrous to think about now, 30-40lbs higher, but knowing how I felt back then helps me remain grounded. It’s not about the number on the scale, or even really how “fat” or “thin” I am. It’s all about how I feel about myself. Because it’s all in the mind, at least at my weight range. If I can feel confident and comfortable in my own skin, there’s nothing better than that.
On Sunday night, I set my alarm for 5:45AM, unsure if it’ll work out. But I’d been having issues sleeping the whole weekend, so given I barely slept, it was much easier to get out of bed than my normal routine.
Here’s a work week where I decided to work out before work for a week.
Monday: Treadmill at the Gym
Day 1, to me, is the most important. You can consider and contemplate and plan all you want, but you have to show up on that Day 1 for anything to begin.
So I woke up at 5:45AM, and and headed out to the gym. (It’s always so pitch dark outside!) My feeling was, it kind of feels the same waking up at 5:45AM, 6AM, 7 AM, or 8 AM. It’s always just cruddy. So then might as well wake up at 5:45AM?
The gym is down the street from me, so by 6:15AM, I was already walking in. I was so surprised to find that there were people walking OUT already, having completed their work outs. People are mad inspiring!
I got my short workout in on the treadmill, and was ready to head out to work by 6:59AM.
On a normal week, that’s around when I would finally be crawling out of bed!
I felt pretty good the whole day. Energetic and ready to face the day!
Tuesday: Running Outside
I was just going to go to the gym every morning for the week and call it a wrap. Unfortunately, the gym decided the one week I was going to come in was the week to have renovations. So for the rest of the week, it was closed.
To make matters worse, it was raining. But I made a promise! So I put on a rain jacket, and went out for a run.
I got totally drenched, but before 6:45AM, got my mile in, took a quick shower, and rushed out of the door.
The morning seems so much longer and you feel like you have done so much when you have an extra hour in the morning! I felt pretty good during this day, too.
I was really not feeling it Wednesday morning. Waking up at 5:45AM for two mornings in a row was having its tolls on me. It wasn’t that I was going to bed any earlier than usual (maybe 10:30~11PM), so that one hour of sleep was starting to make me feel like I’m missing out. I was so close to telling myself I’ll just go in the evening after work, but I managed to push through.
Because it was so hard for me to get out of bed to go, I was pretty proud of myself for actually getting out and walking the 10, 15 minutes to the pool, arriving at 6:20AM.
Again, I was surprised to find that every single lane was taken! It wasn’t even 6:30AM!
I rocked my awkward pigtails, because you need to have a swim cap to swim in this pool. And only way for me to achieve that is to have pigtails.
I swam for 30 minutes, took a soak in the jacuzzi for 5 minutes, took a quick shower, and was ready to head back home to start the work day by 7:45AM.
I stopped by a local coffee shop for a Chai Latte to take back, because a girl has to treat herself sometimes! (With a filled out points card, so it was free!)
I was that weirdo walking down the street like a weirdo at 7:45AM while everyone is heading to work.
That evening, I was out later than usual going to a JAMF meet up in the city, and having dinner with my old manager and my coworker.
Thursday: Rest Day! Mini Workouts
Ok by Thursday morning, I was SO exhausted that I couldn’t get out of bed. I figured it was as good a time as any to take a rest day.
I slept in until 8AM, loved it, and did mini workouts during the day with my Fitbit.
I also found that just lying down on my back on a yoga mat on my ceramic tiles made my hips, spine, and shoulders crack in extremely frightening ways. I think I need to spend more time on the ground, lying down…
All in all, this was the day that exhaustion was REALLY setting in. I felt very heavy all day, and moving was a chore. This fatigue lasted throughout the whole weekend.
I was going to go take a 7-8am Yoga class at a studio about 15 minutes walk from my apartment. For regularly scheduled classes, it’s $8 a session, and for a few of them, it’s “donation based.” Which is really cheap for a yoga class, especially in NYC!
Unfortunately, when I woke up at 6, I was greeted with the sound of torrential downpour and multiple flash flood warning notifications on my phone. I decided I’m going to do yoga at home instead of going to the studio. Which I guess saved me $8 + however much I was going to pay for a Chai Latte that morning!
I couldn’t really get a focused yoga workout in, though. I got through a few moves, and then was too exhausted to continue.
I thought about just not posting about this week because of the mess the latter part of the week became, but I figured it’s important to post about the failures as well as the successes.
The first few days of the week were great. By the second half, it was an utter mess.
Pacing and/or realistic expectations are important in creating a habit!
I need to start out slow
Having lived with chronic pain for an extended time, I can easily identify “Good Pain” and “Bad Pain.” In the beginning of the week, it was “Good Pain.” Muscle aches, tense calves or thighs, burning when I walked up or down the stairs. By the end of the week, it was the “Bad Pain.” Knee joints hurting when I walked up or down the stairs, all my leg muscles being painfully tight when I got out of bed in the morning, fatigue.
On Thursday, I was in bed before 8PM, tired. One thing I can say is that I have been sleeping VERY well. When I get into bed, I’m so exhausted I knock out after a little while, and then I sleep well. (I was having a short bout of insomnia before I started working out.)
By Friday morning, I felt like I was once again unable to use my body. There’s a feeling you get when you have a physical disability or chronic depression and exhaustion, where your body won’t move the way you want it to move, and it’s just extremely tired or painful to move it. Every movement is heavy, and working out is almost out of the question.
I wasted the whole Saturday feeling like I was either having a head cold, an allergic reaction, or high. My head was very heavy, my eyelids were drooping, and moving was difficult. But it wasn’t like I was sleepy.
Sunday, I spent the morning with a headache and feeling sluggish. In the afternoon, I drank coffee, and I started wondering if I was just experiencing a caffeine withdrawal. The verdict is not out yet on if it was the exercising, allergies/cold, or caffeine withdrawal that ruined my weekend for me. But once I got the caffeine dose, I had a really productive afternoon working!
Lessons into Next Week
Taking note of the fact that by Thursday, I couldn’t get up early, I’ve decided this week to take the M/W/F approach instead of trying every day.
Monday, I got up at 5:45AM to go to the gym. Felt great. Tuesday, I slept in until 6:50AM, and went straight to work. By the time this posts on Wednesday, I would’ve been working for a few hours after spending half an hour swimming. And Friday, I’ll return to the gym.
I don’t want to waste weekends like I did last week, and I don’t want to feel completely fatigued. So with some self-compassion and accepting my physical limitations, I am going to start slow!
Hopefully in the next few months, this will become a habit. And once I have enough energy built up, maybe I can increase my days! Until then, I’ll be slowly building up.