Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Getting better

In personal news, I am happy to say that I have finally started making some real progress with my health and weight. I was terribly awkward and uncoordinated as a child, and the ridicule this brought kept me away from sports or the playground growing up; as a result, I've struggled with obesity for most of my life. (Pride stops me from admitting my precise tonnage, but it ain't healthy, let's just leave it at that.)

The effort of the last two years is paying off: I'm less heavy (though I still have a long way to go), I can do chores in the house and yard without gasping, I don't sweat when I walk around the house, and I can go though a sparring or grappling round without being half-dead by the end of it. My weight loss has been modest so far (partly because I've been adding muscle as I lose fat, mostly because I still eat too much sometimes), but it is nonetheless the first time in my life that my weight has been going down, not up, and the changes in my strength and endurance are noticeable every day. My progress was slow at first, but now that I have so much more energy, I've been able to really get serious about exercise.

I owe most of it to my study of the martial arts, and to the encouragement of my instructor and fellow students. (It's primarily a kenpo school, but the instructor is a big believer in cross-training, which I also recommend.) For those seeking a motivation to get off your ass and improve your health, it can be a great source of inspiration. It has given me milestones and goals that are more concrete than numbers on a scale- the first time I made it though one of our conditioning sessions without needing to stop and rest midway through, the first time I successfully executed a submission on an opponent, the first time I did all my yellow belt techniques without tripping over my feet, or the first time I finished a round of sparring and realized I still had the energy for another go.

Lifting weights or riding an exercise bike for an abstraction like "health" is boring, at least for me. Lifting weights and riding the exercise bike because it'll make you a little bit better next time you train or spar is much more satisfying, and that means I'm more likely to get off the couch and actually do it. I can't recommend it enough.

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