When I came home from February’s vacation, I decided it was time to start a new exercise program. Friends were uploading pictures of our trip and what I saw of myself didn’t make me very happy. Winter coats may hide a multitude of sins but I knew what was under that parka, and I didn’t like it.
So I started thinking: I needed to come up with a way of making exercise into a fun project instead of a sweaty chore. I needed definable goals, for starters. I needed a reason past a simple “get in shape” to keep myself interested in working out day after day.
And thus, Operation: Badass was brought into being. I’m not just “trying to get in shape” – I’ve been in training to become badass for almost two months already! What are my goals? I do have a weight and bodyfat percentage in mind, but more significantly I’m aiming for accomplishments:
- Sign up for a 5K and cross the finish line in under half an hour.
- Ride the W&OD Trail from one end to the other and back again, almost 90 miles. (This is a much longer-term goal; I don’t even have a road bike yet!)
- A shorter-term bike goal is to ride the ~13 miles up to Route 50 and back, on the mountain bike. That route has some wacky hills.
- Twenty pushups in a row!
- Chop firewood without hurting myself. I live in a log house on top of a mountain; this is a skill I really ought to have, and I’m not yet strong enough to swing the maul more than a couple of times.
- Not be the first one to have to stop, out of breath, asking other people to slow down and wait for me.
- Build up enough cardiovascular strength and endurance to not need Singulair anymore, which will save me $30 a month.
- Just basically be able to do what needs to be done without killing myself!
At first glance, this may seem to be a picture of the cats, sacked out at the foot of the bed. But if you look into the background, you’ll see a Concept2 rowing machine – a significant part of Operation: Badass. At this point I’m going more for cardio and fat-burning than for muscle-building, so I have the resistance set pretty low – 2/10 – and I row steadily for at least twenty minutes, twice a week. If it gets to be too easy, I’ll raise it to Level 3, which approximates the resistance of calm water.
I try to get outside exercise as often as the weather will allow. I’m not yet Badass enough to work out in the rain! I have mapped out an eight mile bike route on the hills at the base of the mountain, and a four mile walking route – I’m working on building up strength in my legs before I begin the Couch to 5K program. Last year I went into it too fast, hurt my ankles, and wound up in physiotherapy instead of at the race’s starting line, so this year I’m starting more slowly and gradually – if you can call a four mile hill walk in an hour “slow”. I also have a core strength routine that I learned when I was in physio for the first time. I alternate all of these things and aim to work out four or five days a week – although I stretch daily (at least, I try to).
Of course, the old saying holds true: “You get fit in the gym, but you lose weight in the kitchen.” Exercise isn’t enough! I’ve been tracking what I eat on SparkPeople and counting calories, fat, protein and carbs. Since we can’t get food delivered up to the house, Pirate-Husband and I cook most of our meals at home. We already eat quite well, but now we’re making a conscious effort to cut back a little on some of the less healthy dishes and to add in more vegetables and other good stuff. It’s not too difficult to make healthy, low-fat foods that also taste good!
After seven weeks of Operation: Badass, I have to say that I’m feeling great. I haven’t lost much weight but I’ve certainly gained quite a bit of muscle. My clothing fits better (actually, some of my jeans are too loose now), I’m sleeping more soundly, and I have more energy. Why didn’t I start this project sooner?