Thursday, June 07, 2007

It Ain't Easy

I've been dutifully exercising at the fitness center since mid-January, and for the past couple months, actually going five days a week. I've improved my strength tremendously, such as going from being able to leg press 130 lbs (10 reps) to leg pressing 230 lbs (10 reps). I can even do bicep curls of 25 lbs (10 reps), up from 10 lbs when I started.

I'd give myself a pat on the back, except that one of my main areas of weakness hasn't really improved much at all. Flexibility. I still can't touch my toes. (Well, I can...but only if I go really really fast, which, after the ripping sound it made in the back of my leg, I figured isn't such a good idea.) I also found that there comes a point where you plateau.

I should be proud of myself for reaching a plateau. I had read about the elusive concept in the past, but never really knew what it was like. But here I am...on a plateau. Because, try as I might...those strength numbers stopped improving about two months ago.

Worse yet, if I miss a couple days, or have a long weakend...err, I mean weekend...I find that I've actually gone backwards, and the following week is spent making up for what I lost.

I'm not at all sorry about this, however. I'm far more in shape now than 6 months ago. Even my wife can tell the difference. I like being able to move furniture and do various heavy-labor tasks that, before, wore me out. I like the fact that my pants, which in recent years had to be upgraded from a size 32 waist to a size 33, is actually a bit loose-fitting now. I can use the third hole instead of the second hole on my belt. I can even see my...uh, mini-me...when I look down, without having to suck in my stomach.

But despite the positives, what I'm realizing is that I'm not in my twenties any more. Okay, yeah. I knew that. But I didn't realize just how much those ten years can change you. You have to work at keeping in shape, where before, it seemed almost natural. They say that, once a man hits 30, his testosterone levels begin to drop. Testosterone helps build and maintain muscle mass. (Evidently, it also means greater risk for testicular cancer, so loss of testosterone isn't all bad.) So, now, to maintain, or even gain, muscle mass takes serious effort on my part.

When I started out, I had dreams of having arms the size of my thighs, and thighs the size of...well, something bigger than my thighs. I had dreams of seeing very distinct muscular lines covering my abs. But, I'm afraid, I'm no where near that. I still have a gut that sticks out (just not as far as before), and I still get winded climbing up the second flight of stairs at work.

I'm a diabetic. I have been for 25 years now. If there is one thing I'm constantly aware of, its that the disease is silently trying to damage me. I won't give in without a fight, however. Eating my oatmeal is no longer good enough. Gotta work at staying healthy, so that I can live well beyond 55 years old, which was the life expectancy of a Type 1 diabetic when I was diagnosed. I'll hit 80 if it kills me! (And, after a mile on the treadmill, it sometimes feels like it just might!)


Scott K. Johnson said...

Way to go Ryan! And it is definitely not easy!

Bernard said...

Good for you Ryan. And I feel your flexibility pain!

Hmm, I wonder what the expected lifespan was when I was diagnosed 35 years ago?

I'm guessing most of us alive today will easily get through 60. It's the years after that which worry me.

Denise said...

Strength training is a slow process. Sounds to me like you are doing great!! I have been training for over three years now and an just now starting to see things change. Will long term things. There are some things you can do to show fast results but it takes time to change things. Are you doing any stretching with it. That is what enables you to touch your toes. And it also makes your muscle move better. Make sure you get enough protein to help build your muscles.
You will get there Ryan just don't give up. Take it from one of your elders. it is good for you in the long run. I'm pulling for you!!!!
From another (Bruner or use to be)