What do you mean it’s closed?

Is it bad blogging etiquette to post something on Thanksgiving?  Maybe so, but given why I need to post this today, I think you’ll forgive me.

ymcaToday, Thanksgiving, is the first weekday that I’ve NOT worked out since October 19, 2009.  Today would be the 29th weekday straight of either lifting weights or playing basketball.

Because the gym is closed, I’ll reluctantly take a (well earned) day off and enjoy time with my family.  Ok, that’s a lie.  I’m pleased as punch that I don’t need to go exercise today (even though leg day is my favorite).

It all started with a conversation with @gingervieira on twitter one Friday night. Within a few hours it evolved into an actual list of exercises to do the following Monday.

We need to pause here so I can tell you a bit more about who Ginger is. Taken right from her blogger profile:

T1 diabetic for 10+ years. Writer. Powerlifting for almost 2 years. Set 7 world records in the World Powerlifting Association and won overall best lifter on May 2, 2009. Won VT State Bench Press competition in July 2009.

Holy shit, right?  I met Ginger at the Roche Social Media Summit this summer.  We didn’t have much time to chat there, but I think her “awesomeness” was very apparent to me.  She’s a humble, genuine, funny, and super intelligent young lady.  And no, I’m not just trying to get out of doing more single stiff leg deadlifts (and yes, they are every bit as hard as they sound).

I’m no idiot.  When someone like Ginger starts sharing personal fitness training plans, I almost HAVE to listen, right?  People pay good money for this stuff!  And here I am getting it for a byte or two of bandwidth and some thumb typing on my iPhone.

So I’ve been working myself very hard for the past 28 weekdays straight.  In many ways that seems like forever.  Especially when I’m pulling up at the gym for another day.  It feels like I should be seeing some visible results by now.  But I’m not.  It feels like I should be losing some weight by now.  But I’m not.

When I stepped onto the scale and had actually gained weight, it was crushing.  I had been working so hard for so long – how can this be?!  There are a million and one reasons I’m not losing weight.  I don’t want to get into them right now.  Stepping on the scale was a serious mind screw.  With even a slice of positive feedback, I can boost my motivation and keep going with something that is hard.  But when doing something that is hard AND being faced with negative, motivation-sabotaging news, it gets twice as hard.

It made me ask myself why I was doing all of this.  Why am I physically hurting myself on purpose three times per week (basketball 2x/week is total fun, so that doesn’t count)?  I thought about that first day.  I thought about how much better I felt mentally, and how much more I was able to accomplish.  That is why I’m doing it.

The visible results and weight loss will happen over time.  It’s only been 28 days!  That’s nothing when you think about it.  Nothing.  In those 28 days I’ve only exercised my biceps (for example) five times.  I’d be crazy to expect giant guns after five days.  Thinking about it this way helped me be more realistic about the visible results.

The weight is a sensitive subject for me.  At first I thought “I am not getting my ass on another scale for six months”.  If I was doing this for the mental health of it, why do I even care about the weight?  But after thinking about it (well, sulking about it might be more accurate) I need to keep an eye on the weight.  It is another piece of information that can help me make better decisions.  It’s a hard piece of information to swallow at times though.

Balancing insulin use is important for me in this area too.  Not only does it directly impact blood sugar, but it is a powerful fat storage hormone that also inhibits the ability to burn fat.  It gets complicated quickly trying to keep blood sugars in range (when high or low my muscles are not getting what they need to build) while minimizing insulin use.  I’m not ready to take on all of that complication quite yet, but it is on my radar and gaining import every day.

When it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, I do feel better physically.  I feel strong, and I don’t hurt in places that used to hurt.  That feels good.  That along with the mental health benefits that I saw immediately will be enough to keep me going for some time.  The visible results will come with time.  If I were looking strictly for that, I would have been done with all of this right after stepping on the scale.

As Ginger once said, it is all annoyingly character building.  So true.

Thank you Ginger.  And a big “thank you” to all of you out there rooting for me – it is often a big boost right when I need it!

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…