Friday, 27 January 2012

#5 A Dedication to Fitness

At times I have fallen into significant lapses in physical fitness.  I was never a gym rat but I was blessed with a naturally strong metabolism and growing up I was surrounded by a very active family.  As a teenager I was involved in organized hockey, soccer, and volleyball.  I chose to spend much of my additional free time shooting baskets or fitting in as many rounds of golf into a summer as I could.  As a university student I had various reasons and excuses why I couldn't keep active.  It cost too much to be involved in any organized activities, and I had to rely on the transit busses to get to activities.  Occasionally I would take part, playing intramural soccer for a few winters, attending the University gym for significant periods of time and so on. 

Nearing the end of 2009 I was falling further and further out of shape.  I had finished the summer soccer season on a division 2 team, but I was struggling badly to keep up.  I worked a little in the fall of 2009 to get myself where I wanted to be physically.  The results were a small weight loss from a decent running regiment, but once winter hit, my sedintary lifestyle kicked in again.   I gained a few pounds back, but the most significant problem was the complete loss of stamina and athleticism.  The spring of 2010 came around and another season of soccer began.  In short, I embarassed myself.  We were the worst team in the league and I was a key reason.  I could not keep up, and I would come of the field gasping for air at least a couple times a game.  Thankfully, I could recognize the problem I was facing.  I don't feel that I am old by any definition, but the days of eating horribly and lazing around the house without punishment are over for me.  If I make bad choices with food intake and activity levels, I pay for it.  I did get out of the house on occasion during the late summer and fall to jog in the neighbourhood, and I would jump on my bike for a fast paced ride through the city, but the dreaded winter months were coming, during which physical activity opportunities mean spending money, of which I had very little. 

In October, Sheila and I finalized a deal to buy our first home.  We moved mid month and were blessed with significantly more space then we had before.  3 bedrooms upstairs, one set aside for the baby to come, and plenty of spare room downstairs.  We have a small spare bedroom, and a recroom of 18 X 20 dimensions.  As we moved in, the sofa set and tv filled one side of the rec room, and the computer desks were spread out to fill the other side.  A few months later, on a suggestion from my brother, we rearranged the basement.  We moved the computers behind the sofa, opening up a large area on the other side of the room.  Ian and I were determined to get ourselves in better shape, and we now had to space to do so.  After considerable browsing on Kijiji we got our start.  We found a great deal on a bench press set, complete with barbell, full set of olympic weight plates and a bench that featured an incline option to give more exercise choices.  The bench alone retails for $600 new and we were able to buy the whole set for $250.  Excited about the deal, we got to work.  The weight set was complete a few months later when we added a full set of dumbells with a stand for $200.  This has proven to be an invaluable addition, I find myself picking up the dumbells a number of times a day to quickly do a few exercises. 

In the spring Ian and I were able to find time a few times a week to jog together.  The routine with the weights was informal, jumping on for a set or two whenever we felt like it.  Also, with the new addition to the family, we made a point of attending the pool every Wednesday as a family.  Asher loves the water, Jasmine swims endlessly when we go, and this gave me a chance to swim a few laps, run in the river, and get in some relaxing time in the steamroom and sauna.  I was able to find time almost every day for some form of exercise, and conversely I felt great.  If I didn't feel like jogging, I would talk myself into a bike ride instead.  When April came around, soccer started again, keeping me busy once a week on Mondays.  I was happy with my progress, and Ian and I were proving a sucessful motivating team.  It was around this time that we both started looking at supplements as a way to maximize our results and to improve our health even further.  After some extensive research I have settled in to a fairly extensive regiment of supplements aimed at helping my mind and body. 

As the soccer season moved into full swing, I found myself enjoying the game more then I had the last few years.  I was better conditioned, able to keep up to the pace of play better, rarely needing a break as badly as I had needed them in the past.  I had played on a team with Ian only briefly in the past, and we enjoyed some great chemistry together.  Ian is a much better player then I am, and trying to keep up to him was proving to be a considerable challenge.  We had a good group of guys, and we were playing well, winning most of our games.  As some team members were having a few drinks after a game, hockey was brought up, and it was soon apparent that a number of the guys played rec hockey in the winter.  Ian and I are both former hockey players, myself being 10 years removed from my last spate of organized hockey.  Dan, one of our midfielders, thought there might be room for us on his hockey team if we were indeed interested.  Knowing that there is a considerable cost associated with playing hockey, we were both interested but unsure of our ability to afford the fees.  In hindsight, I am very glad that I decided to take the plunge.  I have met a bunch of great guys playing hockey, and we have seen success together.  We are currently in second place out of 8 teams, and we find ourselves on a 9 game winning streak.  I always look forward to our games, and it has been a great way to keep active during the winter months when I usually go into hibernation.  We play once or twice a week, which provides plenty of game action, but also a nice amount of time to recover between games.  Although my running routine has stopped for the winter, I have been able to maintain a solid fitness level between hockey, my trips to the pool with the kids, and the weights in the basement.

In general, I am very pleased with the changes I have made in my life in regards to fitness.  I have never been as active on a daily basis in my adult life.  I feel like I showed some extreme discipline over the summer with my eating habits which helped me get to my desired weight.  I have relaxed a bit in regards to my discipline, but my hockey games and my almost daily use of the basement weight set have kept me active in the winter months.  As this is the first time that I have ever lifted weights for a long period of time I have seen some amazing changes in body compositon and despite adding some decent mass, my metabolism has remained high, and I have been able to maintain my body weight.  I haven't been at this weight since I was 18, and I can confidently say that I have more muscle mass then I have ever had before.  Here is to another great year of fitness!

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