I have just finished the fourth week of my new exercise regime, a 20-30 minute daily program of high-intensity exercise involving weights and cardio intervals. You have asked me to report back. How am I doing?
Faithfulness: My biggest achievement is that I have actually done it for four weeks. I have done something I don’t like–intense exercise that makes me huff and puff and sweat–because it is good for me. They say you won’t keep up an exercise regime you don’t enjoy. Well, I have. So there. They also say if you keep something up for more than three weeks you have established a new habit. I hope so. It is not getting any easier.
Kicking it up a notch: I only missed a few days when I was traveling, and working out with weights and intense cardio were hard to do (I require machines for that because I do NOT run), but I was doing a lot of walking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If doing the 5-mile Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk seemed like slacking off, I guess I have raised the bar on my own standards for exercise. I also worked in my special athletic talent, a cold-water swim in Lake Superior.
Progress: Although the manual I downloaded from the Internet says the exercises I am doing now are “Level 2,” I feel like I am still “Level 0” in a lot of things, that is, somewhat below the described minimum. But considering that this regime is supposed to be for the buff as well as the decidedly non-buff, like me, I don’t feel bad about that. I am seeing progress. I can get my chest closer to the floor in a knee pushup and my thighs closer to parallel to the floor in a squat. Whereas at first I could barely hoist 5-pound dumbbells above my head, I can now lift 8-pounders, no problem! That is, in some cases I am a higher “Level 0” and in some I have risen to an actual “Level 1”.
How I feel: This is the best part. I feel great! Stronger! More energetic! I sleep better and not so long. I feel more solid and sturdy, less like I am edging toward old-lady frailty. I have not only arrested some age-related decline but I’m turning it around. It is true that the older you get the harder you have to work at staying even or improving. I am working harder and it is paying off.
Weight loss: Nil. Zilch. I have not lost (or gained) in four weeks. This is a little disappointing but I tell myself that a) weight loss was not my primary motivation and b) I am adding muscle, which weighs more than fat. (Although the tummy roll seems just as thick as ever.) After four weeks I don’t put much credence in the claim that increasing intensity increases metabolism.
The prospect of weight loss is what really sells programs like this one. Weight loss is the Holy Grail, the American Dream. But if I listen to my body it tells me it’s rather fond of that muffin top and it’s feeling pretty good. I should keep up the torture regime.