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Thursday, March 1, 2012

in which i try new things, part 1

I have a confession to make.

Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It's been 35 years since my last confession and these are my-- Oh, wait. Father, do you need to use the restroom? Maybe get a bottle of water or a small snack? Because we'll probably be here for awhile...

No, no, no, no. Not that kind of confession. Though, parenthetically, I have to admit that it amuses and somewhat scares me that even though I have not attended church on any kind of regular basis since 1977 (i.e. when I got old enough that my parents stopped forcing me to go), I can still pretty much recite any of the Catholic liturgy (or at least the 70s versions thereof) by heart, while I am no longer able to access the parts of my brain that contain any math over Algebra I, most conversational Spanish beyond cooing to frightened toddlers "no duele, papi, no duele!", or what I had for lunch two days ago without looking back in fitday. If only I could remember everything I've actually learned at one time or another, I'd be almost as smaht as I think I am.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. My confession: I don't hate cardio.

Now, the whole past month of January when I was doing shit like 45 minutes or an hour of cardio after lifting in my quest to make the Random Number Generator (by which I mean to say, my scale) move in a downward direction, I hated it. Anything done because you feel you must do it, rather than because it's fun or challenging or feels good, automatically turns into a duty and is thus unpleasant. Well, except for duty sex, which usually turns out pretty well. But I'm a freak, so maybe that's just me. Forgive me, father, for I have--oh, never mind. (Damn. I think I promised Elsewhere that this post wasn't gonna devolve into a discussion of sex. At least there's no further Billy Squier in here. YET. Count your blessings, readers, count 'em.)

Cardio also usually sucks at its beginning. There's usually an element of boredom or discomfort for a bit until the chemical soup of endorphins gets stirred up, at which time everything gets Much More Pleasant. Back when I was doing Couch to 5k, an online acquaintance who was a serious runner said something to me that I will never forget. She said that the first mile almost always sucks. This was in the context of a conversation in which she posited that as one's runs get longer, they get more enjoyable. If you can only run a mile and a half, and the first mile sucks, then 2/3rds of your run was just torture. But once you can go five miles, well, your ratio of "sucks ballz" to "is fun!" has changed to 20/80. I am probably not nor will I probably ever be enough of a runner to completely validate or invalidate her theory for myself, but that conversation has gotten me to push on many times when a half mile in I've wanted to stop. I think almost all cardio is like that. Push past the initial unpleasantness and then suddenly--oh! not unpleasant any more!

But, yeah, I don't hate cardio in general. If you've read the post about my past gym-going history, you'll know that the first time I was a gym rat, circa late 80s, early 90s, I did a lot of cardio. Everyone did. That, and eat rice cakes. It was part of the zeitgeist. But now, of course, exercise fads--um, I mean scientific thinking about exercise has changed, and there's been a backlash against cardio. Do too much and it will actually make you fat! Or at least it will keep you from getting the body of your dreams. I'll admit, I read NROLFW and at least partially swallowed that koolaid. But initially severely reducing the amount of cardio I did during my first bulk made me realize: I feel sluggish and crappy when I'm doing none. And adding some back in didn't cause the world to stop spinning on its axis. So I spit the koolaid back out.

One little bit of that metaphorical koolaid stayed in my belleh, though, and that was a wee sense of sneering superiority over the Cardio Bunnies. I mean, let's be real. Is it more badass to deadlift or to go to Cardio Kickboxing? (Real kickboxing where you might end up bloody? That's in the badass column, OBVS.) So while I was happy to do my time on the treadmill, or walk or run outdoors, or even use the recumbent bikes (the ones beloved by my old dude admirers at the Y who are generally amused/horrified/entertained by my Tuesday afternoon power rack adventures!), I steered clear of the one cardio machine that epitomized for me, probably unfairly, the Cardio Bunny stereotype. I refused to get on an elliptical.

Well. Yesterday I decided that was silly. Yesterday I decided that trying it would not automatically shrivel up my metaphorical balls. (I mean, actual dudes*** use them too, and it doesn't seem to affect their reproductive abilities.) I got on an elliptical. And then I almost fell off it. Oh, hush. Getting the right rhythm down was trickier than it looked, and until I did, it was *not* advisable to look down at what my feet were doing. But get the rhythm down I did, and you know what? It was freaking *fun*. Bouncy! Like a little trampoline action going on there. And I got sweaty and endorphined-out as hell. Will do again! Without embarrassment. (Um, unless I do actually fall off. Look for that on youtube.)

Cardio bunnies of the world? I guess I owe all y'all an apology!


***I hate that I apparently have this ingrained bit of sexism that is equating certain traditionally male activities as cool and certain traditionally female activities as wussy. Not true. There are traditionally unisex activities that are far too hardcore for me to ever attempt, like say, marathon running. And there are traditionally female (at least in America) activities like yoga that I rage at people considering wussy. If you think yoga is easy, you've never attempted it.

1 comment:

  1. I know the elliptical has been around for sometime and people really seem to like it. I've never tried but based on your experience, perhaps I will. If it doesn't hurt my hips, like the treadmill does and oh, the stairmaster too (I own both) . Who knows...first that roller thing, next an elliptical (the bouncy, trampoline sensation sounds fun!) That garage may be transformed into a home gym after all.