I found the perfect motivation for getting into shape. Watch "Spartacus":http://www.starz.com/originals/spartacus. It's kind of like porn, but the acting is surprisingly good and the story has lots of high-eyebrow and pursed-lips moments. And everyone is in unbelievably good shape.
Watching this video, you will understand why:
So after watching a few episodes, I decided it was time to move fitness to the front burner.
I had been honing my diet for the past several months: vegetarian and sugar-free. The sugar-free thing had been going about a month. No sweeteners of any kind: no honey, no maple syrup, no artificial sweeteners. I allowed myself fruit, but that was it. I wanted to see what it was like to not experience a sweetened life. And it was fine. After a couple of days, all the cravings disappeared and regular food seemed sweet again. But I was surprised that it didn't result in any great weight loss. Clothes were slowly starting to fit more loosely, but the scale didn't budge. My sweet tooth had always been my big downfall. I was surprised that I didn't lose more weight.
So clearly, it was time to get into a regular exercise regimen.
I had somewhere stumbled onto an article about a "Run/Walk" plan for marathon training. I don't remember where the original article is. But essentially, you run for a specified number of minutes and then walk for another set of minutes. It seemed like a good idea, because last year, when I was running on a somewhat regular basis, it took me a very long time to build up my endurance to run a significant amount of time. Running is hard on the body and it takes time for your system to strengthen all of the parts in preparation for long-term running. A run/walk program is supposed to help you condition your body faster and with less of a chance of injury.
Plus, I no longer believe that exercise should consist of pushing oneself to extremes. It just demotivates me.
I found an "article online that outlines a run/walk program":http://img.timeinc.net/health/i/20070102/runwalk.pdf for people that are just getting started. Today was the first day.
The first few minutes were a shocker. I am not in shape. But it's always such a surprise to realize how far off you are compared to what you expected. Those first three minutes of running felt like torture and I thought I would not be able to keep up the pace for 35 minutes. But then, those three minutes went by pretty quickly and the walking felt good. All the pressure on my system lifted as I kept a steady walking pace. And after 2 minutes of walking, I was ready to try running again. With each run/walk set, I felt better. I wasn't intimidated by the running part and in fact, it started feeling pretty good. I finished the run for the day on a strong note. (On a side note, my body has felt a long springier and resilient since I gave up meat, so I attribute some of that to vegetarianism.)
One of the things I like about this plan is that they tell you about how much you should be exerting yourself on a run. I had to continually remind myself that I'm aiming for 6-7 out of 10. I have a tendency to push myself too hard when I run so I had to ease up on occasion.
Looking at the plan, I see that Saturday, I'm supposed to run 5 miles. That's a little intimidating right now. I still feel like a beginner. I'm guessing that when Saturday rolls around, it will happen in the same relatively easy way that today happened. And I also need to remind myself that I can easily walk 5 miles. I will be using the same manageable pace for those 5 miles that I used for today's workout.
The other thing I like about this plan is that allows for two days of weight lifting. Because while the running is nice, and I hope that it will kick-start my body into shedding some pounds, I will still be watching Spartacus and feeling woefully inadequate if I don't get to the gym and put on some muscle.
Here's another Spartacus image for motivation: