I am going through a period of re-adjustment right now as I try to get my life back on track after a few years of laziness, slobbery (no, not slobbering), and general physical degeneration. Most of my friends already know that I was a college athlete (recruited, scholarship, NCAA Div-I… the whole bang) and that I suffered a fairly severe injury to my spine sometime mid 2nd year. Against the advice of several physicians (though I maintain it was the right decision) I carried on racing and refused the “easy out” posed by medical retirement. After graduating I ran off to foreign climes and then started my MA. That was the beginning of a serious physical decline that resulted in me starting my PhD maybe 10lbs overweight and substantially less capable than I was 2 years previously.

The thing about certain injuries – mine included – is that you have to commit to a healthy lifestyle or to a miserable existence largely characterized by loss of mobility, stiffness, and associated depression. While I wasn’t entirely resigned to the idea of being sad and immobile for the remainder of my 20s and onwards, I had allowed things to slip.

About 3 weeks ago, upon returning to New Haven, I decided to make a serious change. The gym was to become my new best friend. So for the past 25 days, I have made the very short trek from my home to the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Once there I have pushed myself through a sequence of workouts of increasing difficulty and duration. I am proud to say that 45 minutes of cardio now comes very easily to me and that I have started erging again – with promising results, though it is too early to post those sorts of things in a public forum.

How about results? Well, despite tracking my caloric intake (and output – we are working for net reduction of about 500kcal/day… not starvation) and exercising 6 times a week, my weight has remained fairly constant. That being said, my quadriceps and abdominal muscles are notably stronger and tighter. I have much better endurance and my heart rate is beginning to drop faster after exercise. These are all good signs – probably signs that I am converting fat into muscle … hence the lack of “weight” loss.

But the best part – increased energy, increased flexibility (particularly in my back), more regular sleep patterns, and a much healthier diet. And the bottom line – I am just happier!

Do I think 6 days a week of exercise is sustainable? Over the long run – yeah! Sure there will be weeks when I only get in 5 workouts… or 4; but there will also probably be weeks when I get out-and-about for 7 consecutive days (especially when the thaw comes and I can get back to regular hiking). Graduate school can be time consuming and draining but I would rather spend my spare time doing something that makes me happier and healthier than any number of things that have the opposite or no effect.


My official “before” shot


One response to “Change

  1. Love the before photo and looking forward to some “on the way” photos. Sounds like a great plan to keep up your energy and “happiness” levels

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