Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Inconvenient Truth

I could blather on for several paragraphs to lay the scene for the cold, hard truth, but instead I'm going to flat out say it: really building muscle, increasing stamina, changing your body composition from fat to lean is hard work.  You can't do it with light weights, going for an easy 30 minute walk every evening, or pedaling on the recumbent bike while reading the latest issue of Elle or Men's Fitness.  You have to challenge your body, really challenge it, dealing with discomfort and frustration, push yourself to the limit more often than not.

Fighters from Giganti's Scola overa Teatro from

Back in the days when I did a lot of historical European martial arts, my friends and I would joke that the style of Nicoletto Giganti was lazy man's fencing.  The postures were very efficient, utilizing body mechanics to defeat one's opponent in the smoothest way possible.

The human body likes this; like many natural phenomena, it will seek the lowest energy state.  Not engaging in a lot of physical activity?  Slow down the metabolism.  Not using those muscles?  Recycle them for their proteins.  Ingesting extra fuel?  Burn some of it, then store the rest as fat for later.  Unlike other mammals who can rest for months during periods of hibernation without significant muscle loss, humans must use it or lose it.  Even a few days in zero gravity will leave one weaker.

So, especially for a woman in her mid-30's who has never been particularly athletic or even believed that she could be athletic, it's an uphill battle all the way.  I won't lie: right now I'm battling some pain.  Active trigger points in my trapezius, overworked hamstrings, and pectorals and triceps that will be really sore tomorrow.  It was all I could do to reach 6 reps in my third and last set of push-ups.

Why?  Why am I battling myself just to do 6 push-ups?

Because, a couple months ago, I could only only do 3.

It's hard to see the gains when they come so slowly, but they're still there.  I am stronger than I was.  I can lift more, run farther, climb higher.  While it is a work in progress, and hard work at that, I can see the progress, slowly but surely.

Last week, I decided to sign up for 6 months of online coaching.  It was at a reduced price, to be a beta tester for a trainer's new body recomposition program.  The program officially starts on Sunday, July 20th; I have yet to see any of the details.  I had to take photos of myself: front, side, and back, and send them in.  That was psychologically very difficult, as much as I love myself and my body, I have no delusions of my photogenicity, especially under fluorescent lighting in the gym mirror on a cell phone camera.  :)  I am excited and optimistic, keeping my goals realistic, and believing that I can really be fitter than I ever thought I could be.

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