Row, Row, Row Your Plastic Gliding Seat And Steel Cable

Biking still does not work for my knees, so I have begun rowing as an addition to walking. I discovered I am incredible bad at rowing.

First, there is the form. Legs, Lean, Arms, Forward, Repeat. That is the order of the motion. A smooth, fluid motion that when executed properly is a beautiful thing. For me, I jerk about, slam into the end of the movement and almost fall off my seat at least once every session.

Second, there are my weak-ass arms. I fool myself with all the laps I swim thinking my arms are getting stronger, but holding my arms in proper form as I row is haaaaard. After a rather short time, my deltoid muscles are screaming at me. I tell them to shut up, they tell me to &*$# stop.

Third, there is the lack of grace in getting on and off the contraption. I have to actually lift my leg over the machine and try to sit down on a seat that moves without anything to hold onto. I am not a teenager I need handles! I have to strap my feet in and grab the bar that is now too far away without falling off; if I strap too tight I can’t reach the bar, too lose and I will fly off mid stroke. When I am done and tired, I have to do that same process in reverse.

I am incredibly bad at rowing, but somehow I am able to go a bit farther and a bit faster each week despite my arms protesting the whole time. I am just going to hold onto that and ignore the whole form and grace part and hope when I do fall off the machine or face plant trying to get on it, anyone looking will laugh with me because that will be a damn funny sight to behold.

I Am A Turtle, Trying To Be A Rabbit, Sweating Like A Pig

I have been researching the best ways to get fit as part of Operation Suck Less 2014™ and of course there are many differing opinions and philosophies. I have found three general themes that I believe will help me in my mission: increase intensity, don’t get in a rut and incorporate rest days. While variety and rest are not a current issue, speed and intensity remain a challenge.

I would like to think if I were an animal, I would be a cat. While that might be accurate personality wise, with my speed, agility and crusty exterior, I would more likely be a turtle, a slow, steady, plodding turtle on land and probably just as slow in water. This slowness, while good for something I am sure, is of absolutely no help when it comes to Operation Suck Less 2014™.

In order to make the most of my workouts, I need to get my barely detectable heart rate into the right zone for my daily exercise goal, especially on those days I am attempting High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where I need to hit 80 – 90% of my maximum heart rate for short 30 second bursts.

Continue reading “I Am A Turtle, Trying To Be A Rabbit, Sweating Like A Pig”

In Praise of My Fitbit

When I began Operation Suck Less 2014™ I knew walking would be a key component for both exercise and reflection so I decided a pedometer would be useful to provide accurate progress updates.

Doing absolutely no research other than seeing it mentioned by Wil Wheaton and others on my social streams, and it for sale on Amazon.com, I decided to get a Fitbit One; Wil Wheaton walked along a rail road track looking for a dead body in a movie ages ago, I figured he must know something about walking.

Once it arrived, I clipped it on immediately and completely ignored the instructions until I realized it needed to be charged and I had to do all that initial set up business which luckily was quite easy.

My first few days were about getting an understanding of just how little I was walking; I knew the golden triangle of bed, couch, kitchen, was not packing on the miles but seeing the actual numbers on that tiny digital screen reinforced that doing just about anything was going to make me Suck Less in 2014™ but that I had a long way to go to get back to my 3 to 5 miles of walking a day.

I have a tendency to overdo, skipping that whole enjoying the journey business and wanting the immediate results; this usually leads to big setbacks and cranky moods. So while I had a long way to go to hit my goals, I also needed to take care of my injuries and make progress gradually. The Fitbit provided the means to do this by allowing me to add a number of steps each week and telling me when it was time to stop and to ignore that other voice in my head telling me I was being a wimp and should keep going until I crumpled in pain.

Slowly, I was able to build my daily steps from nearly nonexistent to 8,000 – 10,000 depending on the days other activity and I am confident I will continue to increase until I am back to 10,000 a day minimum.

My walks vary each day from pacing the hallway to wandering around the neighborhood in random directions and I use the gym track and the treadmill when I am focusing on intervals or trying to be less pokey. No matter which approach I take, I can always tell how far I have gone in a day and how many more steps I need to reach my goal.

When I remember to clip it on, the Fitbit is so easy and it automatically syncs with my phone app and the website, tracking steps, miles, stairs and more. It can go quite a long time without needing a quick charge, which is a huge plus. The product has several features I have not bothered to use such as a vibrating alarm and sleep monitoring but just knowing I have that option works for me.

Fitbit has a social component as well and although I was hesitant to add my first friend, I like having the playful competition as well as sending cheers, or taunts, to others. I was concerned about privacy but it is easy to keep hidden what I do not feel like sharing with the masses. I was also concerned about feeling like a lazy slacker compared to others, but decided I am just doing my own thing and I am only competing with what I accomplished yesterday, not my friends; I tell myself this, yet I am totally annoyed when others walk more than me. Grrr.

A favorite, and silly, feature is the messages the product will randomly send like “hold me” and “walk me”; they always make me smile. The badges are nice as well as they are not over done but only for meaningful milestones. When I received a badge for walking my first 50 miles, it made me feel good knowing that all my little, slow steps could add up to a trip to the burbs and back.

I have mixed feelings about the notifications telling me how many steps I need to make my goal. When I am feeling motivated, they make me get out there and walk. However, when I am feeling tired or my knee achy, it makes me what to tell the little bit to piss off and mind its own business. Either way, so far I have reached my goal each day. Go me!

Right now my Fitbit feels like an obsessed friend encouraging me in my quest to Suck Less in 2014™ but I can see a time where it might feel like a nagging pain in the butt, judging and stalking me as a sit on the couch being a slug. It will happen but I hope that day is a long way off and, more so, that it only lasts a single day.

I think it is cool that I know 4 people so far that have purchased one of these handy gizmos based on my usage of it, but it would be way cooler if I got some kind of a commission or maybe a personalized one in a sweet color as a thank you. For the time being, I will have to be satisfied sending them cheers now and again until they go ahead of me on the friend leader board and I will have to decide to walk more or just unfriend them.

So thumbs up for my Fitbit. It is doing exactly what I needed by helping me reach my goals without going overboard and is adding a bit of fun to the process. And now it is time to stop typing and go walking.

Exercise Pet Peeves

Working out would be so much more enjoyable with out the sweat and other people around. My current exercise pet peeves in no particular order:

The people that show up to water aerobics class and huddle in small groups talking the entire time and never move as if the few of us actually exercising are in their way.

People that clip their locker keys so they jingle with every step, even more annoying when they have headphones and remain oblivious to the clinking.

People that talk to me while I am working out and doing my best to convey my disinterest in their existence.

My shoelaces that always come undone after a mile.

People that drip sweat on equipment and do not clean it after they are done.

Old lady at the pool that puts a towel on the tile when showering but never picks it up when she leaves.

People that toss banana peels on the ground.

Biker dude that yells “on your left” but he is really on my right making me wonder if I have forgotten my directions again.

People that walk behind me on the greenway and gripe loudly about their annoying relationships and won’t pass me no matter how much I slow down.

Cars that drive into puddles.

People that let their wiener dogs jump on me as if they are the most precious things that exist on earth when I know full well they are Satan’s spawn.

My hair.

My laundry that won’t yet wash itself.

My slowness.