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My birthday present to me: longer life

As has been mentioned around the place, I just turned 40. The time has come to start trying to keep fit. So I have joined a gym club in the European quarter, in an effort to do some systematic exercise.

I do do the occasional bike ride at weekends, but I feel that isn't very systematic and also eats into my family time. I suppose I could have saved the membership money and just gone for systematic jogging and cycling first thing in the morning; but to be honest I felt I needed to make a financial commitment to increase the chances that I would stick with it (sunk cost fallacy I know, but it works psychologically). Also with the membership you do get advice from the instructors, which saves me trying to navigate through websites or read up on it from elsewhere.

I have never done regular exercise, and need all the incentives I can manufacture to stick at it. The really big incentive is of course the most intangible one of increased longevity. My father died as a result of an unexpected heart attack changing planes in JFK airport when he was 62, in 1990. His father had dropped dead beside him, also after a sudden heart attack, at church one day in 1949; he was 68. My mother's father also died of a sudden heart attack in his mid-60s, in 1977. The pattern is clear, and so is the moral. My paternal grandfather was probably the fittest of the three, and also lived longest. (Though like many ex-colonials he suffered from the aftereffects of malaria, etc.)

Anyway, I have now done two gym sessions and feel very virtuous. They have put me on what is presumably the standard beginner's programme, 15 minutes biking, 20 on the walking belt, 15 on the striding machine, and then a few dozen abdominal stretches. I did it for the first time on Tuesday and felt tired but good for the rest of the day. Wednesday was hell, though, with every part of my body (especially the abs) thoroughly aching. But I got out of the house early enough on Thursday to do it again, and now feel fine this morning.

Timing is a bit of an issue. The gym's location makes it tricky to get to work on time even leaving home an hour early. Also I am still looking for somewhere to get a decent breakfast - there are loads of places between gym and office which will do the standard Belgian croissants and coffee, but I do hanker after bacon and eggs.

Anyway, will report back here regularly on how it goes.

On a largely different topic, thank you everyone for your birthday wishes yesterday! And I particularly appreciated the thoughtfulness of this card (you know who you are - it was in a locked entry so I feel I can't give you the credit you deserve).



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2007 07:07 am (UTC)
I didn't notice you turning 40! Sure, you're still only a young man...
Apr. 27th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)
I find that much of the key to sticking to these things is to ensure you think of them as an enjoyable experience. This may not work as well as music, but I know you listen to a lot of audio-books. As long as you're not exercising so hard you can't follow the story, perhaps it would be nice to get into the habit of listening while you jog?
Apr. 28th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm ahead of you there - have indeed been getting through the Doctor Who plays much more rapidly this week than previously!
Apr. 27th, 2007 07:47 am (UTC)

Both the birthday and the commitment to physical workouts. I have had my own gym experiences, motivated largely by others' advice to get more physical activity. I didn't luck into aikido first thing, but the gym was an important step along the way to discovering what things I was looking for in an on-going program.

Which discernment process I see alive and well in your own approach. Much sympathy about the lack of eggs and bacon, though. On the other hand, I've noticed sometimes with workouts that my appetite's actually slightly reduced for an hour or so after... would it work for you to defer the reward of a special meal until you reached home again? (Er... yeah, that is asking a lot, I suppose.)

Crazy(and cheering the working out)Soph
Apr. 27th, 2007 08:14 am (UTC)
I'm one of those people who loves reading about other peoples' workouts and the like. Peculiarly, I've found that keeping a visible track of my *own* workouts tends to completely backfire: evidently I have very little sense of public accountability in that regard. I'm more likely to quit if I tell people I'm doing things, and less likely to go to the gym if I've bought a membership. It makes no sense at all. :)

Anyway, good on you, and I look forward to reading about your Adventures In Fitness!
Apr. 28th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
Is that icon from "Strangers in Paradise"?
Apr. 28th, 2007 08:18 am (UTC)
It is! I actually got permission from Terry Moore to make SiP icons, so, y'know, if you want any, let me know. :)
Apr. 27th, 2007 08:19 am (UTC)
we've got a community for Virtual Gym Buddies
You are more than welcome x-post your gym experiences there!
Apr. 27th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC)
Oops - and Happy Birthday and well done on going to the gym *looks guiltily at her own relatively unused gym membership*
Apr. 28th, 2007 05:35 am (UTC)
Thanks - I see some familiar names there!
Apr. 27th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)
Belated best wishes!
Apr. 27th, 2007 10:28 am (UTC)
After a very sedentary thirty-odd years, I started running last summer, as the whole gym culture thing horrifies me as an idea (well, the way I imagine it, all preening and body-conscious) - and I feel transformed physically and mentally. Happy birthday, belatedly.
Apr. 27th, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
Belated congratulations!
Apr. 27th, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC)
Well done. Many of my friends seem to be working harder on the fitness front and this really pleases me as I want them to live long, healthy lives and see many more birthdays.
Apr. 27th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, there is a defibrillator in my gym's machine-filled area.

In ignorance, I have to ask how far away your gym is from your work. If it is useful close, then you might consider cycling your commute...depending on how many children you have to deposit and pick-up along the way, of course.

Apr. 28th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
It's a bit more complicated than that. I have to come in by train anyway from home, as I live 27 km east of Brussels, so can't really bring the bike in that far on a crowded commuter train (and leaving the bike overnight in the city centre is a non-starter). The gym is roughly halfway between the central railway station and the office, but even that is two stops on the metro. So my plan at the moment is metro to the gym and then walk to the office from the gym picking up breakfast on the way. Subject to revision, of course.
Apr. 27th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
Back when I was gym-active, I found it helped to be able to easily integrate it into my schedule, i.e. to use the gym at school. Does your employer offer access to a gym?
Apr. 28th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
Due to the complex operations of Belgian tax law, technically I am my own employer at the moment! So the answer is yes!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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