Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014: Polar kicks and stolen squats

The Retro Ska Librarian (i.e. me before 2011) started running while living in Tokyo.  And Tokyo is like San Francisco in that it never really gets snowed in or extremely cold. The rest of Japan gets covered in blizzards, but not where I was running. Sure, there were other weather issues, like typhoons, killer humidity and earthquakes, but I never had to worry about running in freezing weather.

Running back in NYC was a bit of a wake up call, weather-wise. But as I got more into the exercise, very little stopped me on any fitness endeavor. I couldn't let weather stop my progress.  That being said, I also quickly realized that there were some limits in regards to certain temperatures for outdoor activities:

  • Lowest temperature in which I could run outside in a t-shirt: 50F
  • Lowest temperature in which I could run outside in shorts: 40F
  • Lowest temperature in which I could walk/jog to the gym in shorts: 30F (it was never a long run)
  • Lowest temperature in which I could run outside period: 19F

I realized anything lower, even when in thermals and properly covered, did not go well, leg-wise, lung-wise or head-wise. Not to mention watching the steam from your mouth freeze your glasses onto your nose.

So, during this Polar Vortex, with single digit days and minus temp windchill hitting the city, I shivered my layered self to the gym to try to get in some hearty workouts. But of course with a new year comes the new crowd to the gym. 2014 freeze out!

My earliest attempts at working out always happened after 10 PM. Gyms were usually uncrowded and seemed less intimidating when there's only fellow, chunky, middle aged guys. After getting into training more heavily, I began going early in the morning. Still usually uncrowded and bonus! I had evenings free! I also had dropped the anxiety of working out in front of people.

Both my previous fancy gym and my current ... not-as-fancy ... one usually have that small handful of people each morning, say 5 or 6 people. That's enough in a small gym to evenly share equipment and work around others' regimens. 

The past few days have been packed at 5 AM. 25 people all with that determination to get in shape for 2014. Now, I naturally support any initiative at getting healthy, whether it involves weight loss, stamina building or what have you. But already that number has slightly decreased as the week has gone on.

And I catch myself giving attitude. There's half of me that wants to grab these folks in their new gym clothes and give them that push of support. The other half wants to them to clear the hell out so I can get to the one level squat rack.

I'm glad the former half is winning at least figuratively. Noting says "creep" more than bugging someone when they're working out, but I am totally supporting this push. I've been there. A recent post on Buzzfeed from one of their regulars hits a lot of the same issues most of us have felt about body issues and determination. Will there be a follow up to his one post? Who knows? But at least one has to take it in the spirit in which it was given.

And to be honest, I'd rather see these folks trying to get their gym on than falling back on a fad diet. Which is why the best 2014 news I've seen so far is this article that some of the bigger weight loss companies are being charged with fraud.

Does this mean more people will stop hoping that sprinkling stuff on their food will make them lose weight? A scan through a lot of weight loss forums does not give me hope. I have not seen one discussion thread on this FTC ruling. Rather it's about more supplements, more miracle foods, and not a lot about exercise or eating better.

It's been a year of blogging about my Streamlined lifestyle. It hasn't really gotten any easier to maintain. But I'm still here doing it. 

So during the next freezing day when a 10 mi. run is sidetracked into a weight training session, I hope to see all you new folks still there. Keep at it. Just remember to share the equipment.


Tanzer, Myles. “Yes, My New Year’s Goal Is To Get In Shape.” BuzzFeed. Accessed January 11, 2014.

Wyatt, Edward. “4 Weight-Loss Companies Charged With Fraud.” The New York Times, January 7, 2014, sec. Business Day.

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