Thursday, April 18, 2013

Get Active

So you know I've been hiding out on Pinterest and it's a different world than where I come from, and it was freaking me out a little bit. I know I shouldn't take Pinterest as the state of the union, but it's so fractured! If that's how it is, it needs to be fixed! So many conflicting images and ideas! Who even knew so many things could be made with oreos and cool whip, and are those woman's abs real? Why are there so many workouts for melting this or that, I thought everyone knew by now that you can't spot reduce fat and my heart hurts for these people bragging that they lost six pounds in nine days like it's not just water weight.

I mean, can we forget about losing weight for a second? Maybe you need to lose weight, I'm not saying that's not a thing. Though not only is it not the only thing, it's not anything I'd organize myself around. I don't even mean that how fit or how strong you are is so much more important than how much you weigh, though I do think that. I do think that being fit and strong is way more important. I'm just saying even if what you want is six pack abs or just to look good in some jeans, it's your body composition that's relevant and how much you weigh not so much.

And I'm also saying that getting lean is a thing, but it's not the only thing. Because guess what, you can be perfectly happy without a six pack. Let me get even more radical and say that you can be perfectly healthy without a six pack. Because I feel like a lot of sensible people look at all these thinspiration pics and think very sensibly, nah I don't need a body like a hood ornament. But then I worry that people think that's all that fitness has to offer, this one luxury item that you could be perfectly happy without. When there's stuff that you actually need, that you can't be healthy without. That is, you need to be active. Maybe sensible people already know this; they are sensible, after all.

get active

So let's talk about this.

I dunno, am I sedentary?

There's an actual definition for sedentary—i.e., less than three months doing less than 30 minutes of moderate activity 3x/week. If you don't have that under your belt, I sincerely hope that you make it your goal. And remember that you don't start at your goal, you start short of your goal and your goal is where you want to get to—that's why it's a goal, right? Start where you are with what you can do; if that's 10 minutes of low intensity activity, get started with that.

But do you know what, don't assume that you're sedentary. Count! So you don't "work out." Find where you're active in your daily life, and figure out how much it counts. Do you know what I used to do, I used to count skating as fitness and biking to work five days a week as transportation. Aagh, what?! Like it wasn't a perfect hill workout, it started with a flat stretch and then a longish slight incline and then a short steep incline that was murder and then it flattened out for the home stretch. Don't be crazy, count what counts. If you don't bike to work, do you walk to the train? Are there stairs up to a platform? Are there stairs up to the street? Is there a bit more of a walk to your office? Or hey oh, do you work on your feet all day? Geez, that counts. I was on my feet for five hours one day when we moved offices, and that wiped me ouuut.

Here's how you figure out how much it counts, take note of:

  • frequency of activity—i.e., how many times per week
  • intensity of activity
    • if you can speak comfortably, then it's low intensity
    • if you can speak but not comfortably, then it's moderate intensity
    • if you can't speak, then it's high intensity
  • duration of activity—i.e., how many minutes per day

So for example, let's look at my commute to and from work:

  • Frequency: 2-1/2x per week, which is to say 2x/week alternating with 3x/week every other week
  • Intensity: hm well, maybe 10 min from my house to the train, two sets of stairs down, stand on the platform (there are some shenanigans here, geez, is that how you spell shenanigans), stand on the train, then two sets of stairs up, and then I'm right at my office. Walking and stairs down is low intensity, just stairs up is moderate intensity for me. Then going home, all this in reverse. So maybe 2 minutes moderate intensity activity, and let's say 28 minutes low intensity activity.
  • Duration: which I have already figured out above, pretty much 30 minutes total for this activity for the day.
Okay so, let's pretend that's all the activity I get. Which you know, it isn't. Pretending! So this is a sedentary person; this person needs to be active more frequently (one more day per week, every other week) and with more intensity (say, walking more briskly), but is active for a sufficient duration—and this is just doing what she just does in a normal day in her life.

Getting in the game

Clearly I'm making a point here, so why don't I get to it, i.e., activity is not something separate from your life. It's a part of your life, probably already at least to some degree. And the point, in my opinion, is to increase if necessary and improve the activity throughout your life. And by the way, this is no less true if you're an athlete who works out five times a week; but it might not be true in the way that you think, but I will get to you later.

Anyway I can't cover everybody's possible situations with this one post or with this whole blog, like what if you drive to work. Or what if you take the bus to the train. If I was your trainer, I would talk to you in person about what we could do with your normal daily activity—it doesn't work for everybody's situation, but commuting is a great opportunity to look into. But if that doesn't work, then something else that gets you up to that 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 3x/per week.

What is it good for?

I started out by saying slightly out of order that if you don't have this under your belt, I sincerely hope that you make this your goal. And it's not because I think everybody should be strong and good looking, you want to hear something crazy for a trainer to say? I don't. Chances are I do think you're good looking, but who cares. I'm sure I've said this before, I believe that everybody is an instance of life and the game isn't for everybody to be the same instance. I mean, that's the opposite of the game. So you can't deadlift your body weight, you could very well be doing something more important with your instance that uplifts us all. Thirty minutes of moderate intensity activity 3x/week isn't going to get you a six-pack—but is getting a six-pack going to get you what you think, we can talk about that later. It's just that your instance of life is carried in an electrochemical machine that needs at least thirty minutes of moderate activity 3x/week, at least according to conventional wisdom, so that we can get instances of music, or photography, or cultural theory, or unswaying friendship, or really hilarious facebook statuses.

So, I do. Think. That everybody should be active. I say that with hesitation because of still believing that the game is to generate as many instances as possible, and some of those will be inactive instances. So this is in the context of, I'm not involved in every instance. I mean, obviously—there's seven billion instances in the world, and right now I'm involved with, like, ten. That's my instance, see.

I can't figure out how to wrap this up, and I've gone on long enough on the bowl of egg bites that I scarfed four hours ago. After I've eaten I will either come up with a few more ideas for getting active, or continue on my merry way down this skeleton...