Last month I found that I got breathless climbing up my home’s flight of stairs, my circulation was bad because my right hand didn’t warm up properly, even if I had it against a radiator and then I went to my nurse to get the pill and was told I’d put on 4lbs in four months. No biggie as I asked her if I was still in the healthy bracket and she told me I was – phew! But still. It got me thinking.
I started thinking about The Biggest Loser and it made me think about the stairs and my freaky left hand that has a core of ice and the fact that though I’m a healthy weight I am not fit. That made me sad because a) I was writing a lot of stories about incredibly fit people who were running marathons and b) I used to love running when I was a school kid, I was a fit person back then.
The next day I went for a ten minute run. I threw up my heart within the first two minutes and my lungs decided to take a break and stop working after four. All my pores began leaking like they’d never leaked before and my legs could be heard screaming from the other side of the country. I survived though and I did it again the next day.
After two weeks I upped my speed and my time to 20 minutes and today, a month later I am still running five days a week before work for 20 minutes. Last week I started circuit training because I wanted more and I do that two or three times a week for 40 minutes depending on how brave I feel. I plan on upping my to half an hour next week but just thinking about that makes me sweat so it’s not worth thinking about yet.
I still have had no runner’s high or crazy exercise euphoria and it was only yesterday that I noticed a teeny, tiny difference in my body. I hadn’t lost any weight (which is a good thing for me, I didn’t want to lose weight) but there have been changes. I can’t really comment on my hand because the days have gotten warmer but I don’t get breathless from the stairs. In fact, I can chase the puppy around for at least half an hour (she’s fast and that is no mean feat, I kid you not). My body feels tighter and I feel stronger and better and healthier. Not when I’m exercising though, when I’m exercising I feel like shit and it’s taken a whole month to feel strong but still – I’m improving.
However there are a few things they forgot to tell me about exercise. I didn’t get the memo and if I did, I must have forgotten what it said but I have compiled a list of my top four things you need to know about exercise. Not because I’m a fitness expert but because my natural position is sitting, lying or floating (in the sea, swimming pool, balloons – whatever). Nothing to high energy and I wish I’d been told this beforehand. It would have helped.
I know everyone knows that the more physical exercise you do, the more you sweat but I mean you start sweating like there isn’t a tomorrow. More than you thought possible. I sweated on my first run – sure; but I sweat a hell of a lot more now. It is because I’m pushing myself more but I think it’s also to do with the fact I’ve reminded my sweat glands how to work and they are making up for lost time. Without wanting to get too gross – or is that too late? – the more you exercise and the more regularly you do so, the more you sweat, by the end of any sort of proper exercise you look like you’ve been caught in the rain. In films when they show those guys in the gym that look like they’ve just stepped in, and then out, of the shower and are now pressing weights, I always thought were ridiculous. It was silly to try and make an audience believe that a person sweats that much. But it’s true, they do. It seems the better you become, the more you sweat.
Stretching is important
Stretching is a little like waking your muscles up and telling them to prepare because something big is happening. You wouldn’t trust yourself to wake up without an alarm so you shouldn’t trust your muscles to do that either. Stretching is your alarm. You do not want to end up finishing a workout with a calf muscle that hurts so much you have to crawl up the stairs. Not that that happened to me. Ahem.
Breathing like a banshee is okay – so is screaming
If T-Rex, a dog and an elephant had a baby then it would breathe like me when I run. The hard part is not laughing at yourself because when you laugh – everything falls apart. I used to hold my breath when running past people which made me have to pant for the next thirty seconds so I’ve stopped caring. I sometimes pretend I’m a monster as I run past people and see if they look scared at my horrendous breathing. Most just look like they want to laugh, some give me worried looks. Who cares? Screaming is also okay by the way, I do my circuit training at home with an amazing workout programme that I found (although I refuse to follow the eating plan, I will not restrict my food) and screaming helps. I’m not sure it’s the greatest thing to do in a gym – I’ve never been to one though so I can’t judge but screaming at home while you sweat enough to create a little swimming pool is probably the only way to survive.
You do not feel good while exercising or after exercising. Give it a month, two or maybe three before good feelings arrive
Anyone who says they feel good straight after a run is a liar. Strong words I know but it’s true. You can feel proud. God knows I did but you don’t feel good. That’s a lie. Your body is depleted and trying to restore itself after a workout and nothing about that feels good. I actually felt guilty when I didn’t feel good and I felt a little frustrated that I hadn’t had an “exercise high” but the fact is hard work does not pay off straight away and it is only four weeks into a regular exercise routine that I am starting to feel better and feel the difference this bloody running and circuit training has done. It’s become a habit which means, though I don’t necessarily look forward to it sometimes (although I do a little) and though I don’t necessarily enjoy it when I am actually exercising (I am too tired and concentrating too hard on not giving up that I have no space for enjoyment), I am feeling better. But those good feelings take a little while to arrive. When they do, they’re awesome but don’t expect to be feeling those “oh-so-good-joyful” feelings, those regular exercise people harp on about. And don’t give up when they don’t come as soon as you’d expect. The oh-so-clever boy told me it actually takes three months before you, and others, see a big difference in your health, stamina, appearance and mentality. Patience, determination and continued effort is key.