PUMPING IRONY: Mission Accomplished

My 44-day fitness challenge ended this week with kind of a whimper.

I didn’t do any running or play three sets of tennis or enter a triathlon. But I still feel like I learned a few things about myself: Like, it’s the things I do as a matter of course (meditation, morning kettlebells, bicycling to work, weekly yoga) that have the biggest impact on my health. And that getting to bed early gives me the best chance to make the day a success. And that all the work I’m doing on the house and yard has a serious fitness component. And that, yes, sometimes reality intervenes — and that’s OK. I didn’t do as much running as I hoped I would, and I didn’t give up sugar altogether, but I have to say I feel at least as good as I did 44 days ago, and that should count for something.

Day 40, Monday, 10/17

Well, my 44-day fitness challenge is winding down, so instead of ramping up my workouts to gain momentum, today I didn’t exert myself at all beyond my 2-mile bicycle commute. I should, however, mention my efforts at cutting back on processed sugar. As you may recall, my glucose level was slightly elevated, and I’ve known for some time that I need to be more mindful about my sugar intake. But I’m not ready to dive into the kind of detox diet that various doctors and nutritionists are preaching. I can’t imagine spending two or three weeks drinking nothing but green tea and eating some tasteless broth.

I have in the past week moderated my wine consumption quite nicely, enjoying a single glass with dinner rather than lingering at the table with a refill (or two). This doesn’t qualify as processed sugar, really, but it is a certain habit I’d like to moderate. I’ve also reduced my tea drinking to three or four cups a week. I want to watch the amount of caffeine I’m consuming, and because I like a teaspoon of honey with my chai, that is reducing my sugar intake as well. I long ago gave up on donuts and other pastries — although MLW and I will share a dessert when we’re dining out. And then, of course, there’s dark chocolate. But everyone knows that’s medicinal. On the unprocessed sugar side, I’m still enjoying fresh fruit as often as possible (bananas and raspberries or blueberries in my breakfast yogurt, a mid-afternoon apple), and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Everything in moderation, MLW says. Even moderation.

Day 41, Tuesday, 10/18
Fitness isn’t just about building rippling abs and buns of steel. It also means keeping your brain in shape. So Tuesday nights this fall, MLW and I have been taking a French class through our local community education program. Sitting in a high school classroom brings back all sorts of bad memories of my teen years, and revisiting verb conjugation can be awfully humbling for a guy who’s supposed to know something about grammar, but it’s actually been a pretty gratifying experience so far. And, before the recent cold snap hit, we had been riding our bikes a couple of miles to and from the school, so it has involved real exercise, as well. Drove the car tonight, though. C’est que c’est.

Day 42, Wednesday, 10/19
Up late last night and, of course, that required that I sleep too late for a morning workout. (So much of my day depends on when I get to bed the night before.) A brisk bike ride up the hill, though, always gets my heart rate up.

Day 43, Thursday, 10/20
An abbreviated workout (30 pushups) this morning, then yoga in the afternoon. Five miles on the bike also counts for something, right?

Day 44, Friday, 10/21
I figured since it’s the final day of this fitness challenge, it would only be fitting to actually work out this morning. So I ran through my full 3X kettlebell circuit before breakfast. You know it’s a good workout when you really wish it were over, and I really wished it was over about halfway through. (Goblet squats are just brutal!) Worked up quite a lather. Always feels great when you’re done, though. Later, I had a nice chat with my wellness coach, who said I was doing really well. And she didn’t add, “for an old guy.”

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