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Why is Exercise so Hard?

I am really sorry this post comes late this week. I think I have a good excuse. In a way it inspired this blog post. So there is at least that much to say for this.

I have been really working hard to increase my exercise level. I talked about that some in this post. But it sure doesn’t seem to be coming easy and I suppose if it was easy for me I wouldn’t be around 75 pound over weight.

Back as a boy and teenager, I was incredibly skinny. I could eat just about anything and it didn’t seem to matter. I was also more active, playing Soccer through high school, riding my bike everywhere, and just playing outside most of the time.

But as happens with all of us, age has caught up to me. And I am far from an old man, but I am certainly not the teenager I was. When I got my first job, I developed a fast food addiction. I bought it all the time. I loved to cook, but the convenience of a drive thru wins. And then, frankly speaking, it is addictive and the portions are large. I have little control over myself when it comes to food.

Then I developed a coping relationship with food. When I am depressed, sad, stressed, or otherwise overloaded I have to have food. And not a salad.

Finally, I moved in to a more sedentary life style. I stopped sports, mostly because I’d reached an age I couldn’t play youth recreational soccer. I worked full-time, and slowly my job migrated to a sitting position as I advanced within the industry. And I started to develop hobbies that were more sedentary. Video game, writing, movies, reading all replaced sports, playing outside, and running around with friends. Last, I could drive now and I didn’t spend any time on my bike.

Then I discovered I had diabetes. And as they told me all the things I can’t eat, I realized I’d be miserable. And that made me just kind of think, well fuck em, and I ate more of what I shouldn’t.

But I knew it had to change and I set myself some activity goals. Mostly around the None to Run program. The problem with most exercise programs for me, is that I expect instant results. I expect to see something right away. And finally I generally don’t enjoy the solitary nature of exercise. I loved Soccer because I was out there with a team playing a game. The exercise wasn’t the reason I was there.

But there was something about this None to Run program that I really liked. It was slower progress than the Couch to 5K program. It felt doable. Also there was no focus on weight loss goals, or distance, just time. And my wife’s schedule change was making me change my schedule and the time was available now. And I stayed on that program longer than any other program I’ve tried.

But at 9 weeks in I had an injury. My knees were in a lot of pain by week 6 but I’d recover by the next day. But on the ninth week, I couldn’t recover and it turns out it was a real injury and I was out for several weeks. And now I am have a hell of a time restarting it.

Part of the problem was that when I started I had really thought that this COVID thing would pass and by this time I’d be able to run a 5K. And though I still want to do a virtual 5K, it just doesn’t feel the same as running that first 5K with a group of people. But there was something else.

The fear of getting injured again. It took a lot longer to recover from my knee injury than I had expected. Facts are your body doesn’t recover as easy when you get older, but add diabetes into it and recovery is painfully slow.

To satisfy my need for a group, fun exercise I also signed up for a spring learn to play hockey program for adults. It was going to be with a group of friends that I’ve developed through my son’s hockey team. I’ve never ice skated before, and so I planned to take some time on public skating.

I bought all the gear and the next week everything shut down due to COVID. Then suddenly on Monday they announced it would start today with small groups of less than 5 and a number of other safety precautions. Which was great, accept I’d never spend a day on the ice.

I signed up for a private lesson that was on Thursday. It started well, but I took a pretty bad fall. I don’t remember the fall, but after trying to skate again the instructor noticed something and we left the ice. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet.

End result was I got a mild concussion. There is likely some whiplash and other associated muscle injuries. I was told to avoid bright screens for 48 hours (thus I didn’t write a blog yesterday as scheduled).

So here it is Saturday, and I am taking it slow as I try to recover. No ice sports or physical activity until I have a follow up with my primary care doctor. It is suspected that I will need to stay away from activity that could cause head contact for several weeks. It is all pending another evaluation.

And so as I write this they are having the first learn to play class, and I am missing it. And I have to wonder, why the fuck is exercise so damn hard? Why does the motivation come and go? Why the hell can’t exercise solve the problems of a poor diet? (And I won’t get into my diet issues right now, but I am improving those). And how do I do all this without losing my motivation during an injury?

Why do doctors recommend losing weight to manage diabetes, but most diabetes medications seem to cause weight gain? The ones for weight loss never seem to work for me.

I understand this is a bit of a rant and complaining post. But I really hope that by getting it out there, some tips and tricks will come my way. Someone already suggested I start the None to Run program over from the start to try to spark the excitement again. Of course I may have to wait until I get cleared by the doctor now.

Any of my fellow writers, followers, and have tips? Does anyone know of a Couch to 5K equivalent for strength training? How to you find the motivation?


New Year, New Me… in June

New Year, New Me… in June
The New Office

I think we all know by now that 2020 is just all types of fucked up. So I don’t see any reason just to hit the reset button on a number of things both personally and a professionally. It is time to pull out of this deep dive and get back on course. And no better time than now.

The year started off bad for me. Closing Factor Four Magazine was pretty hard on me. I was already in a creative slump with my personal writing, but when I lost the magazine it was kind of an end game for me. And that decision was made at the very end of 2019. Not the best way to close out a year and start another one.

The depression was real, but I made myself a couple of promises entering into 2020. Some plans to keep the depression at bay and to refocus myself and my life. The end goal was to return to my own creative spirit.

The first was that I’d run a 5K by the end of the year. I’d start my None to Run program in April with a hopes to be ready by summer for my first 5k. It is a 12 week program so I planned to be ready by the end of June.

The second was to make an effort to stay connected with my best friend by seeing her at least once per month. We used to work together and I saw her 5 days a week. When I changed jobs in 2017, that stopped and it wasn’t easy for me. I have a phobia of messaging people out of the blue, let alone inviting them out. I worry I seem clingy, needy, overreaching, and maybe even a pest. I never think that people think as high of me as I do of them. And I figured if I committed to one outing a month with her, I’d start to break down some of those walls. My job offers very little social interaction now, and I need the interaction despite my inability to break the ice.

Well, as we all know, COVID is a son-of-a-bitch. Working from home, everything is closed, and the general fear of the unknown all came slamming at us all early in the year. My wife is an essential worker and has to go to work every day. I used to work one day a week at home, and five days a week seemed great. No commute, even though I just bought a new car for a more comfortable commute, seemed like ideal.

Wear a mask, it isn’t that hard.

But as weeks went by it becomes obvious the impact it has on you to be at home all the time. I worked in my home’s “media room” and after awhile, working in there meant I didn’t was to be there after work hours. Which meant I didn’t want to do some of my favorite things like gaming and watching movies.

Of course, there was no way I was able to see my friend once a month and that goal was shot. It was a real bummer for me and kind of made me feel like I had nowhere to turn anymore.

My son’s hockey team was making a playoff run and that was canceled. I lost the interaction with my fellow hockey moms, which was a fun source of social interaction while enjoying my son’s hockey.

I was able to start my None to Run program early, but around week 9 my knee was injured and that put it on pause to heal. And I still really haven’t picked it back up yet. The lost momentum is more to blame than any injury now.

One of my first weeks on the None to Run program

In general life just seemed to be on pause.

I did decided to start a long needed home project. To take one of the really large rooms and create an office. Where once was my son’s really large bedroom and a tiny utility room, would now be a place for me to work that was separate from the other areas of the house. My wife and I decided it was a good use of the time and stimulus money. Plus we needed to fix some unsafe electrical work.

That project was longer, harder, and more costly than I expected. It drained my savings (which is a new source of stress) and took a lot of hard work. We added Ethernet and coax to the entire house and made the electrical safe again. It took two months to complete, though it felt like ages.

But this week I was finally able to work in the new office space and it has me suddenly inspired. It feels like a space to create, build, and relax. And despite working in it all day, I am quick to switch from the work laptop to mine at the end of the day and start creating.

Add that, my middle son, who is quickly becoming a very avid reader, has started to read my books as well. And talking books with him has been enjoyable. This combination has lead to a sort of “ah-ha” moment.

So this week I fired up my personal laptop for the first time in months. It took ages to power on and update. But once it was ready I needed to get the creative juices flowing. And I knew where to start.

I was right here at this website. I needed to bring the old blog over to the website for a more seamless experience. And I needed a website I could update easily. And so I’ve spent my week working on this website and I’ve decided I need to make some other promises to myself.

Ultimately I need to hold myself accountable, but I also hope that by sharing the journey with my friends, family, and supporters you can help me.

Here is what I need to do:

  • Get physical. Run again. Both my job and my hobbies are sedentary, and I need to change that.
    • Starting Monday I will go back to my three day a week regiment working to get myself back up to Week 9 conditioning for None to Run.
    • I will commit two days a week to injury prevention training.
    • I will find a strength training regiment that works for me.
    • I will get at least a Virtual 5k in this year.
    • I will find other group physical activities that I enjoy.
  • Read again. I need to read, I love to read, but somehow I never make time.
    • I’ve set a low goal of 8 books for the rest of the year.
    • My website as a currently reading section on the left, watch it to be sure I am reading like I should.
    • Rather than spending hours scrolling my phone, I’ll set aside a minimum of an hour most days to read before bed.
  • Write again. Oh how this one seems to be obvious, but also the most difficult.
    • I am going to get back into my once a week blog habit. When I blog regularly, I always wanted to write more.
    • I will go into the short stories folder of my remote drive, and get them submitted to places. Sure, I’d love to be paid for them but more importantly I just want to get them out there. Move on from them.
    • Set to work writing the third book in The Serenity Saga. It is overdue and needs to be brought to life.
    • Remain active on Twitter so I can stay connected with my writer audience and they can hold me to my progress on these goals.
  • Work out some ways to be more social despite trying to remain safe and healthy.
    • I have to work out a way to communicate with my friends and push aside the feeling that I am being bothersome.
    • Undoubtedly some of my friends will be reading this. Their support will be helpful in bridging the gap when I am too scared to do so.
    • Maybe a once a month video call with a few of my friends isn’t too much to ask after all. Maybe I can figure that out someway.
  • This one is the least measurable and probably the hardest one to obtain. But I really want to return to publishing in some form.
    • I don’t know what that looks like.
    • I should allow myself to continue to think of ideas.
    • Valid ideas should be fleshed out to see if they are possible. If they aren’t move on, if they are explore it.

So there you have it. It is a new year, new me… in June. I hope you’ll subscribe/follow this blog. Follow along on Twitter. And most of all, I hope you find your own ways to maintain your mental health during this unusual time. Please share you comments, thoughts, experiences, and tips below. I’d love to learn from you!