Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's like I've been living on another planet...

It has officially been 9 years since I stepped inside a gym. Even more if you count that I really used a gym more regularly when I was in college – a good 17+ years ago. A real gym with sweaty men, free weights, grunting sounds, women in spandex, and that extra lovely touch – mirrors. Today for the first time I entered the “gym” part of my YMCA (to date, I’d only ever attended a few Pilates classes prior to my back herniations diagnosis, or used the pool there). I looked for the little paper & pencils where you’d write down how many reps/sets you’d accomplished on a certain machine. I searched in vain for a machine (cardio or weight) that I could recognize. No success: things sure have changed in 9-17 years! My oh my. Being utterly incapable of navigating the foreign surroundings of sweaty men, mirrors, and now strange machines with COMPUTERS, I had to ask a trainer to help me get started.

Their “Fit Traxx” system or whatever it is called is absolutely astounding… like having your own personal trainer hanging over you at each machine! I slowly learned I had to enter my pin number before using each contraption, and then watch as the computer told me if I was within the correct range of motion, if I was going too fast or too slow, how many reps/sets I’d done, if my seat was adjusted correctly, etc, etc. The array of cardio machines was mind-boggling: treadmills, stairmasters, optical elliptical octagonal whatchamacalits, rowers, “cross-trainers” – and a few that even elicited this comment from the trainer: “those over there are really too complex and strange to use”.

The thing I finally chose was the cross-trainer. All the buttons made me feel I was in a cockpit. The pilot then had to decide upon the various options: did I want to know the calories burned per hour or overall calories or the distance or the time or a combination of any of these; did I want to push or pull the handles; did I want the fan on high or low (yes, there is a little personal fan on the machine!); did I want to know my heart rate; did I want to watch the large TV overhead or the personal one attached to the machine (OH MY GOSH!); and if so, what channel did I want to watch???? There was more, FAR more I didn’t even get to… I just pushed “express start” instead of selecting one of the various “programs” I could choose. If there were any more decisions needing to be made, it would’ve been time for me to pick up the kids!

Suffice to say, I warmed up for 5 minutes and proceeded to “run” while sometimes pulling and sometimes pushing with my arms for another 25 minutes. My heart rate was around 160 (which apparently is the very high end of my “zone” – I’m learning the lingo!), and in that time I covered a distance of a bit over 2 miles. I was drenched in sweat at the end, but proud and happy. It was amazing to be able to “run” but without the back pounding that normal running incurs (and the kind my orthopedist has told me to avoid). I approached the trainer who had taught me the machine and told him my toes were numb (“is that supposed to happen? Does that mean my position is wrong?”). He was so perplexed by this that he took a few steps back (from the weirdo lady, obviously), and said slowly, “Uh, noooo, didn’t you feel it was happening?” Of course I did, but I had continued anyway. When I told him that the feeling was starting to return to my feet, he gave me a limp little laugh and moved away.

So here is the kicker: want to know how many calories (according the computer) I burned in this effort? A whopping 233! So tonight as I was eating fish (dover sole) and green beans, I was hoping that the olive drenched over everything (olive oil flows like water in this household – I’m convinced that for the kids, it makes EVERYTHYING go down easier and tastier) was not more than my half hour of effort, but I fear it might be. I cannot BELIEVE how few calories I burned! OH MY GOSH for the second time! (I’m trying not to say Omigod too much – something I picked up from watching the Sopranos, albeit one of the tamer things!).

I completed the workout with two sets of weights (just 5 machines) – but it seemed lame because the time spent on the computer gave me more than ample time to rest. Hopefully as I become more savvy at this business, the weights workout will improve.

In any event, after a trip to PA and back, finally resettled at home, I promise myself and Michel and Lane that I’ll restart with the calorie counter tomorrow. There has just been too much craziness until now. I’m feeling guilty that I’ve accomplished much less (in terms of actually losing weight) than Michel and Lane, but baby steps, baby steps. At the very least, I’ve stopped gorging myself on bad stuff. And after today I certainly will think twice about 233 calories and what that translates to in actual effort. Michel and Lane, you’ve both inspired me so much – to count calories AND start exercising. I’ve realized that it cannot be diet alone. There is another LOOONG story about how challenging it was to get my daughter to stay in the kids’ care they have at the Y, but we’re over that hurdle now, so I want to forget that story and focus on the future – the possibility of what might happen if I could do a workout three times a week and how wonderful that would feel. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I find a way to manage the kids and actually GET to the Y!!


Lane said...

Congrats on making it to the gym! I know you were frustrated by the number of calories you burned, but just getting there is the first step! Next time you won't be as overwhelmed by the machines (I've never been able to figure out all the buttons, either - I just do Quick Start also), and you'll be able to just get started. It only gets easier than the first time. One thing that has been helping me get my bum moving is to think about the time I've already spent working out - I don't want that to end up being wasted time by not working out again and getting right back out of shape.

Good luck!!

Michel said...

Great job going to the gym Annette!! I've had issues with numb feet while exercising as well, and I have determined that its becuase my feet swell when running/exercising. So I loosen my shoes and in fact, I've now purchased running shoes that are 1/2 size larger than I would normally wear, and that's done the trick- no more numb feet for me!

And don't worry about the calories for now. Eventually, you'll work out more intensely and for longer periods and then the calorie burn will go up. For now, its good that you went and have a plan to go 2-3 times a week. GREAT JOB!!!!

Anna said...

I really suggest that you concentrate on eating good food like vegetables, fruits, seeds, soy, nuts, beans, etc. Before you worry a lot about calories. Get the nutrition you are missing and the cravings will start to go away. Your body will also recover its abilities to improve appearance and burn fat!