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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Exercise Routine Initiated and Healthy Eating Renewed

Well, like I promised, I got myself an Alumnus Membership to the University Fieldhouse. It's been almost three years since I used to work out there on a semi-regular basis, and while last year I tried 24-Hour Fitness, this year I've returned to the Fieldhouse for three main reasons:

1) It's within walking distance from where I live, which limits my excuses for not going. Plus the walk is a great warm-up for the actual workout (I'll save that walking bit for warmer times, though).

2) It's much cheaper than other gyms. It was about $25 a month at 24-Hour, and it works out to only about $15 a month at the Fieldhouse. And there's no other hidden fees unlike 24-Hour.

3) They had the cycling bikes that I know and love.

I say "had" in number 3 up there because it turns out that the Fieldhouse has made some major changes since I last went, one being the replacement of my beloved cycling equipment. I liked the old bikes because they were analog, and completely manual. There was a little knob to control the resistance, and I knew how much of a turn I needed for the purpose I aimed to achieve. In that system, it was much easier to quickly jump from a low resistance to a high resistance, which I would frequently do to alternate standing and sitting.

The new bikes are all digital, which is handy if you want to passively let the bike determine your workout for you. They also feel like exercise bikes, whereas the old model felt like a real bike. Figuring out how to stand properly on the new bikes is something I'm still working on. Finally, the new bikes lack foot straps. I like the foot straps because they allow you to keep using your leg muscle throughout the entire rotation, pushing down, and then pulling up. Without the strap, you are just using the inertia that follows the push to let your foot come back up.

So I'm bummed about the bike situation, but I bet these new bikes are easier to service when they breakdown, and they are less intimidating to people who might not have had instruction in cycling technique. So I guess I understand why the Fieldhouse went this route.

Today was my first session at the Fieldhouse, and I managed to workout for a full 30 minutes, which is pretty good for my atrophied ass. We'll see if I can work that up to the 50 minutes I used to do back in the day. I plan to hit the gym Thursdays and Sundays, and I'm taking a Community Ed Yoga class that emphasizes some pilates techniques on Tuesdays. Hopefully three days of exercise a week will hasten my results; I've got some serious ground to cover after the holidays.

As for eating, I've been thinking that when people say you should eat five or six small meals a day, I think they have in mind much smaller "meals" than people realize. Like maybe an apple is a meal. And a granola bar another. I don't know though, people already have a skewed idea of what an appropriate portion size is. I think a serving of cereal is only a cup, for instance, and I'm pretty sure I tend to fill my bowl with twice that. And forget about the serving sizes in restaurants!

So here's going to be my technique: I will bring a small healthy lunch to work that I eat bits of throughout the day, then I will have a somewhat larger dinner. My problem is going to be the snacking, because a little bit of cheese here and a chocolate piece there adds up to more than you think. So I'm going to try to snack less. And in restaurants, I will automatically cut my meal in half and plan to take one half of it home. That way I can have at least some control over portion sizes while I'm out.

That's going to be the key: portion sizes.

I'll be hard pressed to give up some of my favorite naughty foods, but if I can moderate the size and frequency of consumption, I think I will still be ok.

So that's the current battle plan on the Healthy Eating & Exercise Diet!

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