Thursday, December 26, 2013

Race to the End (of the year)

I have been proud of myself that I have managed to maintain the exercise ethic and good eating habits during this tense holiday season. (The holidays don't make me tense, but let's just say it's bad timing). A great 10 mile run on XMas Eve Day, some frozen bike riding yesterday and today I was up at 5 AM to get my heavy chest/tricep regimen done before having to schlep to work.

Except the gym wasn't open. Mind you, it was supposed to be, but it wasn't. And I stood there for 25 minutes in my winter coat and shorts, hopping up and down, assuming they were just running a bit late and at least I could get in a partial workout. Or maybe quick cardio. Or something, which soon became less and less of something...

But it was not to be. Someone just didn't bother coming by to open the place up. Well, you get what you pay for. So, I took that pissed off attitude and channeled it into some sort of sweaty activity. In this case, 15 minutes of HIIT on my apartment floor (much to delight and amusement of my cat) and then a brisk icy bike ride up to work (with several more blocks of walking. The NYC bike rental program doesn't yet go that far uptown). So I arrived, cold, sweaty and late.

Do I feel better about this morning? Not really. Better than if I did nothing, but I wanted something much more intense and had given myself the time to do it. I tend to know that unless I get some sort of intensity going in my workout, I don't feel like a lot has been done. Back in my retro Ska Librarian days, a little bit of exercise made a huge difference. But in Streamlined form, I can't just slack off and think lowering my calorie count is going to make the entire difference to health. Even if one is not looking to lose weight, just getting your butt moving helps.

It's the reason I took up running in Japan. I was bored, I had no money for a gym and I got breathless walking up stairs. This from the once-young Ska Librarian who would be dancing non-stop at most ska shows in the tri-state area. Running was for health and stamina. The weight loss idea came later. 

But that being said, it is the intensity that matters. I should feel like I got a workout when I exercise. I'm not in the "must do it til you puke or are injured" school, but you should feel sweaty and used (as it were.)

And now, as if on cue, here's the latest from the NY Times telling us that studies show that intensity does matter, especially if don't have much time to exercise. And it can cause a profound difference in our physical and mental well being. 

And that's why I do it at an intense level. I can see how much better I handle stress, how much better I feel, how less likely I am to grab that infamous tub of frosting. And that's why it's frustrating when it's out of one's control like when your gym "accidentally forgets" to post the hours for this week.And knowing enough that substituting a 15 minute HIIT workout instead better mean that I'm going to (paraphrasing the Times article), "maintain a thumping heart rate and spray sweat droplets around the room."

So, if I have to think of resolutions for 2014, these would be mine:

  • Find a new gym that keeps their hours
  • Find a new trainer to increase that intensity
  • Make 10 miles the minimum for each run
  • Make sure that even my "make-up" exercise sessions induce sweaty floors and a thumping chest

It's not about weight loss, it's about returning to that good feeling. 

Happy almost 2014.


For Fitness, Intensity Matters. (n.d.). Well. Retrieved December 26, 2013, from

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