Saturday, June 20, 2009

Starting where you are

I was a little taken aback by a comment on my last post but I would agree that the guidelines in the book I reviewed would seem intimidating. I saw it as an interesting alternative to the typical idea of aging, which would suggest that it would be different from what most people do.

Even the authors never suggested that a person should jump right into an extreme exercise program. They are careful to say that those just starting out should consult with a doctor, a trainer, etc., to determine what is appropriate given individual fitness level and physical limitations.

I started my own exercise program just by taking a walk every day until I was ready to do more. I took classes at my gym when I felt ready to bump up the level a bit. When I switched to running, I started out with just a few minutes at a time. When I compared myself to other people, or even to myself at an earlier age, I felt discouraged sometimes. To progress, I had to focus on my own incremental improvement. It took a long time to get better, and I had injuries and frustrations along the way. At one point, I had an injury, tendonitis in my foot, that prevented me from walking comfortably -- not from walking around the block, but from being able to walk around in the I grocery store. I promised myself then that I was going to give up focusing on the competition if I could ever race again, and just be happy to be there.

There is always that temptation to compare yourself to someone else, though. I went to an open-water swim sponsored by the triathlon I'm doing next week. I had planned to do 4 laps (1600 meters) but decided to do only 3 (1200 meters). I was OK with my time, 40 minutes, but the woman I went with (who has never done a swim like this before) was all worried when she found me. It seemed she had finished the same distance in 22 minutes and had gotten scared, thinking something had happened to me. I'm glad I didn't try for the fourth lap or she might have been frantic.

I told her, "It's not that I'm slow, it's that you are fast!" I could be unhappy that someone did it faster than me, but I really do believe I did fine. I am looking forward to the race next week. I enjoy racing because it makes me feel good, not because it makes me feel better than someone else.

1 comment:

  1. You're right, it's not a competition but that's sometimes hard to remember when other people are around or talking about all they have accomplished. Suze Orman says we should not think about what we used to have/do, we should start with what we have now. Good advice for exercise, too. Thanks for this, Jen.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07