Sunday, October 29, 2006

Endorphins, Seduction and Motivation

Fly By Night Airlines witch, circa 1988
Can you believe that's me? I know there are other old Halloween photos around here somewhere, all from the 1990s, but this is the one I found tonight. It's from about 1988, when I was still a travel agent at Travel Tree on Broadway. You can't read the sign in the picture above, so I rescanned it larger and darkened it up for you:

Now you know why the witch is wearing flight goggles.

Seeing myself that thin is a bit of a shock for me - it's been quite a while since I was merely fat instead of obese. So this photo is a bit of a motivator. I've had several nice bits of motivation in that area tonight.

I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of going to the gym earlier this evening, but having missed a couple of days this week due to sleep deprivation and working late, I knew I had to go. So off we went. I'm so glad we did!

John's been advising me about not pushing too hard on the treadmill, and to extend my time on it; but so far, I hadn't managed to get a good, long session in without my reported heart rate spiking above 160. So tonight I tried something different. All this time, I've been pressing the Start button, setting the speed, the incline (if any) and the time (20 minutes, at most), and pretty much sticking with that. Nobody, not even the trainers, ever showed me anything else, although John had me start slow and work my way up. But the treadmill has a whole panel of programmed workouts, so tonight I thought I'd try out one or two of them.

First thing I found was a submenu called Weight Management. One of the choices for that was a fitness test, and I figured that was probably a good place to start. It had me enter my age and my weight, and advised me that when my heart rate got above 150 for more than a minute the test would end. It then started out slow, only to rapidly increase in speed and incline. I didn't get up to a run; in fact, I only lasted about five minutes before the heart rate monitor ended the test. I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that it gave my fitness level as "0." That's a zero, folks, not O for Outstanding.

I stepped off the treadmill until it reset, and then went for a program of interval training under that same submenu. Again it asked for my weight and age, and this time it also asked for a minimum and maximum target heart rate and target duration of the workout in time, calories or distance. I set it for a heart rate of 130 to 150 and a duration of 25 minutes.

And you know what? It was great! It started off slowly as John wanted me to do, built up to a maximum speed of 3.4 mph (my previous best last year was 3.3 for part of a workout) and an incline of 2.0 (previous best: 1.0), and then cut back each time my heart rate hit 146 or so. I would get a bit of a rest while still continuing to walk, still keeping the heart rate above 130. Then we'd be off again on another "climb" in difficulty. It was interesting, it was fun, it didn't hurt my lungs and my back nearly as much as usual, and I made the 25 minutes easily. Plus, knowing my age and weight, it credited me for twice as many calories as my old routine, almost 200. Yeah! I love it! I'm actually looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.

Then I sat down and read for a few minutes while waiting for John, and had a bit of a coughing fit. Exercise gives me mild asthma, and my lungs never recovered from my cold of a few months ago. (This is unfortunately my usual pattern.) But that's okay. Topping off the unexpected pleasantness of the evening's workout, I weighed myself and discovered I've lost another three pounds, for a total of six so far. That's not much compared to my overall goal of 100+, but it's a good start. Someday when I'm braver and thinner, I'll tell you what my starting weight was.

The dieting is getting easier, too. I'm no longer automatically giving in to thoughts of ice cream or chips or candy. The refrigerator is full of celery and low carb food, and it's all tasting pretty good to me. It also helps a lot that John and I are on the same page on both the food choices and the length of the workouts. That certainly wasn't always the case. John has tried a number of regimens over the years, and I - well, I haven't always managed to get very far in my many dieting attempts. But sometimes I do. It's early days, but nevertheless it's becoming clear that tis is going to be one of my more successful efforts. Hooray!

So happy days are here again on that front. Now I need to get other parts of my life under control. There's cleaning to be done, and email to be read. So what did I do today, besides sleep in, work out and shop? Well, mostly I worked on Wikipedia. I know, I know. It's undisciplined of me to spend hours working on the entries for Mickey Mouse Club, The Aristocats and My World and Welcome to It‎ when I have other obligations. But darn it, it's fun! It pushes all my buttons: the drive to write, the drive to synthesize and share knowledge, and my love of fondly-remembered bits of literature and pop culture. It seduces me with promises to let me do all these things I enjoy. So I researched the early history of The Mickey Mouse Club, rewrote that article's introduction, and added an "infobox." For My World and Welcome to It I got the two screen captures above from an old videotape, and scanned in the book cover shown here to the right. The opening title screen capture wasn't good enough to use, but I uploaded the "Home" one, which is based on a Thurber cartoon, and the heavily cleaned-up book cover. I also learned about a 1959 precursor to the 1969 tv series, moved boxes so I could get to my Thurber collection and bring it in here, hunted for Thurber's three stories about the Monroes (but only found two of them), and added to the article based on all these activities.

I don't know much of anything about endorphins, those fun brain chemicals that are supposed to make you feel good when you exercise or have sex or whatever. But it seems to me that my brain has a great time when I write for Wikipedia, a little less when it's for this blog. It also rewards me for the fiction writing, when it's going well, but it's a little hard sometimes to get started and reach that happy moment. And reading email, well, frankly, that's mostly a slog. It also doesn't help that Blogger's been unreliable all week, and barely worked at all last night. I don't feel guilty about not blog jogging tonight, because Blogger was apparently down anyway. I'll be lucky if I even get this entry to post. So far I've tried about a dozen times, over a period of five hours.

Tomorrow evening, though, Blogger permitting, I will be visiting some of your blogs for the first time in weeks. It will be interesting to see what my brain does as I finally renew contacts with online friends. Be seeing you!


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Barbara said...

I am glad that your work out went so well. Keep up the good work.

julie said...

Glad to hear you found a program on the treadmill that seems to work for you. And congratulations on the weight loss. Three pounds is nothing to sneeze at. And I should know: I've been sneezing all day! ;-)

Bea said...

Hey, six pounds... that's great! You'll get there at that rate. I like the computerized treadmill... what a great invention. You can set it for your individual needs each time you get on it. You are feeling better, I can hear it in your words. Keep up the good work! Glad to hear that John is working with you. Go Team!! Bea

Becky said...

Uh oh... does this mean I shouldn't send the yummy pumpkin cookies or cheesecake I found? Your new motivation may just rub off on me! (after Halloween.) LOL!