Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stronger but not thinner

I'm kind of shocked that I have not updated my exercise progress since the end of July.  While I've been neglecting my blog on cyberspace, in reality I've been very active, especially after school started.  Now that the fall term is coming to an end, it's time to just update a few things that's happened since the summer.

I think I avoided writing about my exercising because I was disappointed and ashamed by my lack of progress over the summer.  After the July Instagram challenge ended I signed up for a few August ones that were yoga or plank related, but what had been so much fun in July had just turned into various excuses to take selfies every day and putting them on in the internet.  I felt no progress, and taking a picture of yourself in some tiring yoga pose is not a fun activity to do.  So gradually I've given that up.

(In fact, I've all but closed out my exercising-related account and switched it to a journaling account, documenting all my journaling adventures.  If interested, the new account name is techo_love).

Things were not great on the gym class front either.  Toward the end of August I had all but quit going to class.  The days were getting shorter, I never really developed into an early morning person (all I got was sleep deprivation), and I disliked my cycling class and wasn't comfortable with doing extraneous activities early in the morning.  By the end I realized one thing: I'm not an early morning person and there's no point in trying to change myself.

And running.  Oh boy.  At least last year I had plantar fasciitis as an excuse.  This past summer was just one lame excuse after another in lieu of any running at all.  I was getting fat and disgusted at myself.

Which is probably why I added some exercising regiments and abandoned any morning activities.  I enrolled in a monthly membership at my yoga studio, basically forcing myself to go to yoga class once a week, which apparently was not something I could even keep doing before.  I also registered for a gym class that met in the afternoons 3 times a week.  I had heard good things about the class, and traditionally it was a popular course that gets filled quickly.  It's called Dartfit, and essentially what it is is this really intensive HIIT course.  Somewhat similar to the HIIT course I took in the summer but way harder.

It turns out that I just wasn't pushing myself hard enough.

I had already known that doing anaerobic exercises like HIIT is better for fat burning, in that you burn more calories doing HIIT for an hour than running for the same amount of time.  Granted you can't do HIIT for hours and hours so if you run a lot they sort of even out.  But since I don't run a lot, I need all the other help I can get.

The class was brutal.  I went in pretty confident with myself since I had done HIIT in the summer and thought I could handle whatever that was coming for me.  Instead I thought I had died after the first class back in Sept.  I drank at least a liter of water during class and when I got home afterwards I sat on my chair for at least an hour before I could manage to do anything else, like showering or eating dinner.  I seriously considered quitting after that first class.  A friend who also signed up for the class left the gym half way through the class and never came back (he showed up to class sporadically afterwards but was going even less consistently than I was throughout the term).  I hated the feeling of running out of breath, and seeing how everyone else was faster and was having an easier time.  But I didn't end up quitting because I knew there was no other way I would ever work that hard if I just work out on my own.  And veteran students of the class kept telling me that it gets easier, it really gets easier.

And I really wanted a Dartfit T-shirt and be worthy of it.

So I stuck around.  I don't think I've ever gone for the full 3 times a week regiment.  Sometimes I just go once a week.  But the others were right.  It did get easier.  Sometimes I cheated.  Sometimes I focused so hard on my breathing I manage to beat it out without feeling like dying.  Sometimes the class was easy so we all felt like we were getting stronger.

I took it easy after realizing that I was getting shin splint on both of my legs from running around the indoor track.  It baffled me.  I thought if anything else I at least knew how to run.  So I learned some new stretching moves and took it easy at the beginning.  I still get shin splints some times, but I get it because I was running faster.  When I had to sprint I actually sprinted, sometimes faster than others in class.

I could feel that I was getting stronger, and I would never be able to do it if it wasn't for this class.

But with Dartfit and yoga, and badminton at the beginning of the term before I hurt my wrist, I didn't have time to run anymore.  I got lazy on the days I didn't have class.  I just couldn't get my butt to the gym when I didn't need to be there.  And when I finally was running again a few weeks ago I found that while I could run faster I couldn't run as long.  I struggled for 2 miles and gave up on doing a 5K, and more recently I've been afraid to do prolonged running in case my shin splint gets worse.  It's a constant struggle but at least I'm getting more cardio workouts in.

And today I had my best yoga class ever.

I had lost about 2 pounds recently and have been eating healthier and more sensibly.  I did not lose a significant amount of weight.  If anything I gained weight and I don't know why.  I assume I have more muscle mass now and the fat has not gone away, because I didn't feel heavier and my clothes still fit.  Anyways, I felt really good today.  I felt curvier and lighter, and when I was doing yoga I felt that I had more space around my body to work with.  Fat usually got in the way of the more badass moves.

But today I felt light and strong.  I was more flexible and I could twist more.  My upper body was flexible and my arms could handle push ups more easily.  I still sweated a bucket but I didn't struggle with any of the moves (except I still suck at balancing).

I can safely say that I've never felt so strong during a yoga class before.  And I felt really, really good.

I think most of it has to do with the Dartfit class I'm taking.  I'll definitely keep it up next term.  But more importantly I'm glad I decided to stick with the class and work though my struggles, knowing I'll be better and stronger if I can safely make it out on the other end.  I still dread at the thought of going to class, and I still feel like I'm dying sometimes during or after a class.  But at least I know now that if I do it for a while there is a real effect.  A good effect.