Making Sure My Body Still Works

I'm one of these people who likes to believe they are smart. This conception of myself has led me to read certain things, try to learn a number of things and so on to maintain the believability of the conception. Other people, from a young age, reinforced this belief. That's cool. I like it.

No one ever said anything negative really about my body or physical aptitude, but at some point as a kid I rejected "athletic" or "fit" as important to my self-image, and so basically ignored it. Problem is, now I'm not a kid and being out of shape is both... not cool, and actually can start to impact how fun my life is. Long story short: I started exercising starting a couple weeks ago back on May 1st.

It all started a few weeks ago with some friends I play the Street Fighter Role Playing Game with online. They pitched the idea of starting up a shared spreadsheet with columns for each of us, and rows with some benchmark activities. Things like: How many Pushups can you do? Pullups? Squats? How far can you walk/run in 30 minutes? How long can you hold a Plank? How many Burpees can you do? Another thing on this spreadsheet is a tab called "Tracking", and it is just a chronological list of exercises people have done. Those exercises don't have to be any of the benchmark activities. They can just be anything at all.

Anyways, what I liked about this is the informality. I can choose what activities to do and put them in the Tracking tab. If any of those activities is a benchmark activity I can record it on that tab as well, so we can see how we are sitting in relation to each other. For the first two weeks I decided on using my rowing machine to do 30 minutes of rowing for distance, then squats and pushups (kinda).

So, I have begun from a place of being very out of shape. Weight-wise I'm a couple pounds over the BMI line into "Obese" territory. Where did I start and reach after two weeks?
  • I could only do 20 squats in a set my first time (though I got to 50 by doing additional sets). My last squatting a few days ago was 45 squats (plus an additional 25 in a second set for a total of 70.) Short term goal is to hit 100 squats in a set (so I'll start upping this so I hit at least 100 across my sets coming up)
  • I could only do 2 bad pushups my first time. This was no good. I then fell back to incline pushups (2 sets of 20), and last time I did kneeling pushups (1 set of 8, 1 set of 4). I think this is progress, but I'll see if I try to increase my incline pushups (maybe another set), or if I try struggling with the kneeling pushups to see if I get improvement there. 
  • I rowed 4021 meters in my 1st 30 minute row. In my last 30 minute row I did 5085 meters, over 5k! I've also starting doing easy "going for a walk" low intensity rowing on off days, and find that "going easy" gets me about as far as I was able to do on my first day with struggle. So, that's definitely improvement. In week 3 I'm upping how often I row and have a dedicated 5k day. My goal is to just reduce my 5k time, using this "rowing level" site to gauge where I'm at and how well it's going.
Now after two weeks, I feel like changing the plan. I was doing "squat/push day, rest, rowing day, rest" (repeat). Now my plan is something like "Row for 5K time day, 30 minute easy row day, squat/push day, 30 minute easy row day, squat/push day, 30 minute easy row day, rest day?" I also want to add some pull to squat/push day so I can eventually get to doing pullups. It's hard to say. My numbers are improving, so I've done nothing wrong, and all of this is just experimentation. 

Bottom line: I really like the rowing for both cardio and how it works so many muscles at once, and also the total lack of impact over running is key. Like, I don't think I want to run and can't see myself maintaining it, so thank goodness for the rowing machine. Also, calisthenics. You can do almost all of them without any equipment. They are movements that are useful to your life. They come in easier and harder variations, so there is a route from wherever you are at up to wherever you want to be. It is easy to set small goals and see them get achieved. Two weeks is too early to boldly claim anything, I realize. Regardless... I'm having hope and already feel a little less like an old man just moving around like a normal human.

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