This came in as a comment to one of the “Day in the life” posts.
One movement involves leaning forward; this irritates my lower back so I substitute something else.
Jesus! You’re practically crippled by your weight. A normal person would be able to do this easily.
It”s enough of a workout to get my heart into the aerobic range
If a bit of shuffling around gets your heart rate into the aerobic range, you are seriously, seriously unfit.
Don’t kid yourself that moving around and breathing hard constitutes exercise.
Getting past the fact that my lower back is stronger than it has since I initially cracked my tailbone in 7th grade and that aerobic exercise IS whatever gets your pulse into a particular range, this does bring up one point I thought worth talking about.
That is: I don’t claim to be especially fit. I don’t think I AM fit. There’s quite a few reasons for this.
First? A lot of the “fit”, “not fit”, and “fitter” ties into the comparison trap. Not helpful.
Second, I’m pretty damn jaded about the whole fitness & weight loss industry. I spent many, many years losing weight through diet and exercise and then regaining it. I also have no illusions that “Exercise is all you need to lose weight” applies to me. Each time I’ve worked out regularly without dieting, treadmill for a couple miles and then weights, 3x a week, for over a year? I’ve lost ~10lbs total the first month and then stabilized at my new weight. I’ve gotten stronger and usually felt better (yay – not everyone does). But exercise hasn’t made me thin, which, of course, means I’m not and can’t be “fit” in the popular culture.
Third, of course, is the question, “what is fit”? What is the standard in use? There is one standard by which I am “fit”: metabolic fitness. To quote Glenn Gaesser,
[M]etabolic fitness can be defined in terms of how the human body responds to the hormone insulin. “Insulin sensitive” bodies tend to have excellent glucose tolerance, normal blood pressures, and heart-healthy blood lipid profiles.
My ARNP assures me that my blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids are all quite good. By this measure, I am “fit”. Yet – and this is the really big reason – I don’t feel “fit”. Why not?
- Lifting 35lb speakers or the swivel chair is difficult. (Lack of strength)
- Half an hour of walking tends to make me want to sit down. (Lack of endurance)
- The man of the house walks a lot faster than me. (Lack of speed)
- I am fat.
Now, item #4 is pretty much one of those emotional things that goes back to 4th grade and overhearing my mother ranting to my aunt how it didn’t matter that I played soccer well or that my team made the state playoffs, because “she hasn’t lost any weight! We bought her cleats, the uniform, paid registration fees, went to every practice and game – and she hasn’t lost weight! It’s all a waste!!”
But items 1-3 tie into the fitness standard I find most useful, which is “being able to do what I want to do in my daily life”.
Problem? My best employment skills are in an industry that requires me to glue my bum to a chair and focus for hours on end. Focus. Flow. Problem-solve. These are sedentary tasks. Physically speaking, the only thing I need to do is to go up and down the stairs at home, get to work, sit all day, and come home. That’s it. My life does not require a lot of activity – even the crunches and such that avoid the back pain common to many desk workers is optional. Which means that activity is something I have to consciously do. It doesn’t just “happen”.
I’ve also learned from years of being clinically depressed that exercise helps me manage depression, even while depression makes me not want to exercise. Which, again, means I have to think about exercising.
That’s why I think about exercise, and, guess what, thinking about it makes me more likely to blog about it. It’s why I’ve been riding the bus this last year – because it makes ~40 minutes of walking (round-trip) my going-to-work habit. Doing it 4 or 5 days a week means that I am getting more than 2.5 hours a week of walking from commuting, and I’m increasing my speed and endurance. It’s also why I work out with dumbbells – and those 35-lb speakers are easier to lift now. Longer walks on the weekend also help with building endurance.
There are other ways to increase activity in my life, of course. Taking a pay cut (and possibly going back to school) to get into a field which doesn’t require as much bum glue, selling my house in a crappy market to move to a more “walking” neighborhood, or finding someone to pay me to follow Springsteen on tour and dance the entirety of every concert* are all examples. But at the moment I’m comfortable with the steps I’m taking now.
To sum up: By some measures, I’m fit. By others, I’m not. I am currently working to improve my level of fitness, using my own personal measures, for my own selfish reasons. And I’m including it in this blog. Not because this blog is about how “a 400lb woman starts working out and loses 250lbs and becomes a triathlete like magic!”, but because this blog is about what it’s like being me. :)
* Offers to finance the latter can be directed to living400lbs at gmail dot com…. ;)