What can I tell you? As I write this, I have a lot on my mind. Let's just say for now that I am in the midst of a tough decision, which I am sure I will be sharing with you in the next few weeks. I am trying to keep myself from being too stressed about it. And speaking of lowering one's stress, it made me think of how much better I have felt the past year now that I exercise more vigorously than I had been in the past. Fortunately for me, my weight has never really been out of control. To the average onlooker, I was always fairly slim and in decent shape. But I knew it could be better.
By the time I had reached my late 20s or early 30s, it was becoming quite evident I was growing girthier. I can still recall being at my parent's home and taking off my shirt in preparation for a haircut and enduring the exclamation from my mother and sister that my mid-section was more prominent than it had been in the past. Of course this is a natural occurrence of maturation, but it was not fun being the recipient of the ribbing. However, I had no one else to blame, I had become more sedentary than in the past - plus my diet was not as good as it should be either. So although I wasn't fat, it was still a big difference for me.
Moreover, the choices I was making were leaving me at risk for hypertension.
I can still recall my first brush with the fact I may be at risk. There was a health fair on the Toyota campus and when I did the blood pressure check, the nurse asked me whether I exercised. I told her I did do some. That is when she said my pressure was a bit high. I guess, I was one of those anomalies: high blood pressure reading, coupled with a fairly low pulse rate due to my exercise. However, I didn't do much about it. It wasn't until spring of last year, when I casually took my blood pressure reading in front of a bunch of people, only to discover mine was way higher than everyone else's that I was aghast. Here I am, the youngest person in the room by almost 30 years and I have the worst blood pressure reading. By every indication imaginable I appeared to be the in better physical condition. Yet my blood pressure reading was far and away the worst. True I had finished off a whole bag of Munchos potato chips, and while I would love to blame my temporary indulgence. I knew I would be lying to myself. So, could it have been a fluke? Of course. But I knew deep down that it wasn't.
But it was that embarrassing moment that finally acted as a wake-up call for me and forced me to realize I needed to make changes which included eating healthier and exercising more vigorously. I now regularly do a workout I affectionately call the U5000 because it's a three mile run (5000 meters) coupled with strength exercises. And as many of you know, I am a fairly avid cyclist – and I have been so since my early teens. For instance, this past summer I rode over 500 miles (my goal was 1,000 so I actually came up quite short) incorporating my rides into my normal commute from home to work. All of this has added up to slimmer fitter me, with a much more acceptable blood pressure reading.
So when my friend Rorie sends me a text message the other day and asks if I would be interested in doing a spin class with her, I immediately tell her yes. Given that I am once again in reasonably good shape and I cycle fairly vigorously, I figured a spin class would be something fun and familiar. Oh how wrong I was. How can I best describe my virginal experience in a spin class? I think I will just break it down and say it in the most frank manner possible: it KICKED MY ASS.
First off, I will be honest and say I came into class sporting a superior attitude. My initial assumption was that I could easily take on this workout based on my years of experience cycling in all sorts of conditions. For those of you not familiar with spin classes, it's basically an exercise class performed on stationary bicycles. But what I didn't realize - and this is huge - spin classes are exactly that: spin classes. What I mean is, you're literally required to keep your legs moving the entire session. There is no coasting or cruising like you would have on a conventional bicycle. Another key point to consider is that almost the entire class is spent riding out of the saddle in addition to moving your body back and forth. We only had a few short rest periods where we allowed to sit - and remember, we still have to pedal at all times. I can't remember the last time I felt so exhausted and frustrated at the same time. Imagine the agony as I looked up at the clock with streams of sweat pouring down my face, and realizing was only about a third of the way into an hour class (it also didn't help that I had forgotten my water and my energy bar - exacerbating an already dire situation).
But I kept at it and by the end of the class ironically I felt stronger (not to mention slimmer) than before I began. I will definitely be doing one again.
Well, I gotta scoot.