Monday, January 12, 2015

Back to the Gym Blues

As many of my friends, coworkers, family members, and anyone within my social media circles are aware (soooo sorry for being a whiny baby, by the way), I have been sick - really sick - since just before the beginning of the year. And this is no surprise to anyone, especially me. I get sick every year this time of year, although the last 5 years have been particularly bad. I take that back - last year was ok, but I had pneumonia three years in a row the years before that and caught the flu (despite having a flu shot) this year. Frustratingly, doctors haven't been able to explain this phenomenon and so I just do what I can to manage it when I get sick, and make concentrated efforts to prevent it (with varying results) for the rest of the year.

Along with the negative side effects I endure with the medicines prescribed to me when I get sick, I also typically suffer from idontwanna-itis. I don't wanna diet after subsisting on a diet of soup and juice while I was sick. I don't wanna fix myself up after feeling bloated and grey from medicine. I don't wanna workout after spending days of having difficulty breathing. Basically, I throw myself a pity party and decide that I just "wanna" exist, feel better, and try to stay healthy and injury-free for a few days (weeks... months...). It's a very flawed philosophy, and I decided long before the new year that I would fight the idontwanna-itis should it rear its ugly head in 2015 and beyond.

So.... as soon as I could start breathing again, I took the first baby step and started walking my dog again. We didn't go far, mind you. In fact, I probably only walked a total of two miles (split up in two separate walks) that first day. And I felt terrible. The air quality where I live has been horrible (I love you California, but this sucks), and I realize now that those short walks were probably too much considering that I was mostly bedridden for the five days prior. Ugh! So, the next day I walked a little less (about a mile split in two walks), and ever-so-slowly built up to that two mile mark. 

Today I woke up feeling MUCH better finally, a full 14 days after I originally got sick. I'm breathing better, my energy has returned, and my voice is almost back to normal. I decided that today was the day to get back to the gym. Hurray! I was so excited. I couldn't wait to throw on my new compression pants, lace up my Asics, and hit the company gym. I knew I had to take it slower than what I was doing before the holidays, but I was ready.... right?

See that frown on my face up there? Yeah... This wasn't how I thought I'd kick off my fitness efforts in 2015. It wasn't a total loss, mind you, but it wasn't exactly an ideal workout experience.
  • Wins
    • It felt so good to be back in the gym. I like the routine, and I was happy to be there. 
    • I lost weight! I always kickoff my Mondays with a weigh in (usually in the morning, but made an exception today), and I discovered today that I've lost 16 pounds since the end of December. 
    • New year, new stock. Everything was in stock again, which was a nice change from December when I had to bring my own towel. (It's the little things...)
  • Frustrations
    • I work out at the company gym. It's tiny, but it's usually not crowded - especially when I go after 7:30pm. Tonight, I had to wait for my favorite cardio machine. Not a huge deal - I'm just a creature of habit and I'm being honest :)
    • The weight loss is good, but it's mostly attributed to a loss of appetite while I was sick. I'm a little concerned that I will gain this all back now that I'm feeling better (although I am going to try to maintain it and keep losing... healthily).
    • My body couldn't keep up. While I have been the queen of "occasional fitness" for the last ten years or so, I spent the bulk of my early and mid twenties having a regular gym routine. As such, I knew that I had to reduce my workout intensity and gradually work my way up to my regular fitness level when I returned to the gym. I thought I could do 20% less intensity... I was wrong, and my body quickly told me to cut back.
Returning to the gym after illness or injury is frustrating. It can make you feel as if your previous fitness accomplishments have gone to waste, and that you're starting from ground zero. THIS IS WRONG. While you may need to work your way back up to your previous fitness level, your fitness habits give you a leg up in being successful in same. You know how to train and how to get back to where you need to be. Don't be too hard on yourself. You didn't plan on getting hurt or getting sick, so cut yourself some slack. I'm going to try and remind myself to do the same!

There are a ton of articles on the internet that will offer you tips and tricks for how to return to your fitness regime after illness or injury. I'm not going to link those for you (there are internet search engines for that), but I will share with you my personal "back to healthy" plan:
  1. Ease into my workout. I cannot return to the gym with full intensity. This will only prolong any remaining congestion issues, and will likely lead to injury. I'm not a professional or competitive athlete... I don't need to compete with anyone but me. I'll get back to where I want to be, and will improve, with time. 
  2. Water, water, water. I will do my best to consume more water throughout the day. This has and will continue to be a challenge for me, but I know it's the best way to hydrate my body. DRINK MORE WATER, BECKY!
  3. Vita Health. I began a vitamin regimen last year that worked for me, but I sort of slacked on it at the end of the year. Related or not, I also got sick. I don't want to get sick, so I will start taking my vitamins with more regularity.
  4. Feed my face. I like food. (Duh - I wouldn't be a certified chubster if I didn't). And I like healthy food. My goal is to eat at home more, and out less often. I already ate fairly healthy, but it doesn't hurt to try to incorporate more healthy options. It's a lifestyle, not a diet. I want to make sure that the lifestyle I have is healthy and tasty!
  5. Listen to my body. Pushing my body beyond its limits, especially if I'm sick, overly tired, injured, or in pain, only hurts me. I need to respect what my body is telling me, and not push it as I have a tendency to do. We only get one body - I need to respect mine more.
I'm going to sleep feeling much better after writing this than I did when I first got home from the gym. I'm sure my thighs will be burning, but I'm glad I went to the gym tonight. And I look forward to returning to it again tomorrow. My motto for 2015? Onward and upward! Hope you're having a healthy week!



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