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How to Get Back Into Training

We played flu dominoes at my house. First my youngest son, then the middle son, now me. I wrote down a bunch of my whines about it here, then deleted them because they were so onerous. Having the flu sucks.

And type A that I am, I’ve spend a fair amount of my laying-miserably-on-the-couch time thinking about how hard it’s going to be to get back in the gym, how intensely difficult it is in general to come back after a period of inactivity.

How fast do you get out of shape?

I’ve read and heard lots of conflicting opinions on this. Some say that you have to be out for two months before you lose your conditioning. My guess is that they mean ALL your conditioning, because I feel a significant reduction of fitness in two weeks (or less).

Maybe I’m wrong, but getting in shape feels like climbing a mountain, and if you’re only halfway up, you’ll get back down to the bottom faster than if you’re standing on the summit. Just my non-scientific view.

And I always thought everyone slides down the mountain at about the same rate, but this old article in the Chicago Tribune says veteran exercisers lose their fitness level at a slower rate. (See, I tried to do at least a little research.) Thank the good baby Elvis something’s working in my favor here.

First the lungs…

Fewer mitochondria means less oxygen to your muscles, and the longer you’re out of the game, the faster your mitochondria count plummets. How to build more mitochondria? Err, aerobic exercise. Dammit.

Then the muscle…

I barely have the power to shove my 6 pound dog Rocky out of my way so I can shift positions on the couch. Ugh. And according to this guy, you not only start losing muscle fibers when you’re out of your workouts, but your slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers freaking convert to “couch potato” muscle types. I’m screwed.

So what’s the plan, Stan?

Life is no fun without spreadsheets. So I have one, even if it only exists in my mind. I’m planning my return to boxing, you better believe it. How do people NOT box? Life is no fun with out boxing. Spreadsheets and boxing. And little dogs. But I digress…

Truly, I do have a plan. It’s a four-point plan, which is easy enough for my fatigued brain to hang on to. Here ’tis.

1. Cut back on sugar, idiot.

When I don’t feel like cooking I eat crap. I’m sick. Don’t make me work for my food. Donut holes? Fine. Pack of Nabs? Fine. Cap’n Crunch? No. I have to draw the line somewhere, people. (And I hate Cap’n Crunch. Got any Corn Pops?)

Plan for getting back into training? Go to grocery. Purchase — and here’s the SECRET — pre-cut veggies. That’s right. You pay someone else to cut up your food. It’s extra, but it’s the only work-around I know. I’m too exhausted to cut my broccoli.

Problem is, I don’t want broccoli. I want mac n cheese (could put broccoli in it). I want chicken and dumplings (with kale?). I want mashed potatoes (don’t mess with perfection). Soft, warm, comforting foods.

Okay, so if I eat crap foods, I at least cut back on crap SUGAR foods. My immune system will thank me.

2. Start with weights.

Does this sound counter-intuitive? I can barely think of spending 30 minutes on the spin bike; my lungs just won’t allow it. And I definitely don’t want to spark a coughing jag. So I plan to begin with weightlifting. Low weight, low reps. Whatever I can do. Just get in there and start.

Also, in the back of my mind I know that muscle helps burn fat. I’m not expecting to build lots of muscle during my recovery phase, but it helps me to think about this benefit.

3. More yoga and stretching.

You don’t have to have aerobic capacity to stretch. And gawd it feels good, after all the fevers and terrible posture and laying around in bed and on the couch. And it will get me back my flexibility, ease out the aches.

4. Go to the gym. Just go.

My goal is to go to the gym three times next week. Not for a long session, not for heroics. Just for weights, stretching, and maybe a little walk on the treadmill.

There’s no way I can get to the boxing gym until I get some basic conditioning back and feel like I can breathe without coughing out a lung.

But the three times a week can grow to more, and can start to include some aerobic work, and before you know it, I’ll be able to stand on the canvas and take my licks, and possibly even give some.

The sooner I start, the sooner I’ll get there.

You. Yes, you.

What’s the longest you’ve been out of the gym, or out of your sport? How did you make your comeback? On a scale of 1 (hey, it was no big deal) to 10 (I wanted to perish, absolutely perish) how hard was it? Leave me a comment and impart your wisdom. I’ll just sit here on the couch with my little dog and wait.

Photo Credit: Sakurako Kitsa via Compfight cc

I want this Bento box, with it’s little sick egghead. I love Bento boxes. Make me one. I’m sick.

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11 Responses to How to Get Back Into Training

  1. Laura April 13, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Earlier this year the flu took me down for 4 days. I wanted my life back so bad I pushed pretty hard to go back to regular training and conditioning. Wish I’d eased in slower, I was a sitting duck for a stomach virus that took me down for a week.
    I took recovery (and rehydration) a lot more seriously after that joy ride.
    Hope you are up and about soon!
    (microwaved your bones…I know that feeling!)

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      Hey, Laura — I’m on day 6 now, and actually too busy with work backlog to get a first-training-session-back-after-flu in. But I appreciated the reminder that pushing too hard, too fast is a great way to get a secondary infection. Thanks for that good word.

      Flu. 🙁

  2. Gabby April 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Oh gosh! I’m sorry! I just had food poisoning for about 5 days last week. IT. WAS. HORRIBLE. I knew I didn’t like seafood for a reason, ha. I’m planning on going to my gyms technique class tonight, so hopefully I won’t cripple over in stomach pain or something absurd. I laughed out loud when you said “how do people NOT box?”. I mean seriously, I was missing it so much last week. Not only the workout and being awesome, but just the people because I go to a gym in South Boston (Southie) and they are just great, accent and all. Can’t wait to get back in! Feel better soon.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 17, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Hi, Gabby — food poisoning SUX. Like, waaaaay worse than flu. All that heaving, ugh. I’m feeling for you, seriously. And just a teensy word of encouragement. I had my first boxing workout in the gym last night post-flu, and it was really ok. I was slow, I coughed, and if I’d had to spar I would have simply laid down on the canvas and said, “Why don’t you just stomp on me, it’ll be easier on you.”

      Actually I have two very good friends coming to try me out in the ring tonight; we’ll see about the whole stomping thing. 🙂

      We two sickies. We’re crazy. So, then, here’s to crazy! Cheers.

  3. Bonnie April 17, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    So bizarre, Lisa, I’ve been going through the same thing and was trying to blog about it but was just too down! I’ve been out the past month and a half now, the flu turned into bronchitis for me (a weakness I’ve always had), and I just started back last week.

    I think what that article in the Chicago Tribune talks about is correct. I started boxing at 26, the first sport I ever played. I lose my fitness incredibly quickly. I tried sparring yesterday and was simply dying after 3 rounds, going back in for 2 rounds after a rest felt worse than death. Whereas my boyfriend, who has been in athletics (track, kickboxing, boxing) for most of his life has gone 6 months without any training and will be back in shape in under 2 weeks. Incredibly frustrating. But I’ve learned that about myself since I started boxing, so I started doing preventative measures as well when I am forced to take any time away from boxing. Yoga is huge, and I try to hit hot yoga to keep the weight down on top of all the benefits of regular yoga, Cutting down what I eat, because everything you gain in a time off makes things tougher on your body. And I try to keep up light cardio, either a walk/run program or slow jogging.

    Anyways, good luck in the ring tonight, hope you fare better than I did!

  4. Tulisaa April 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Cut back on sugar. CHECK
    Start with weights. CHECK
    More Yoga and Stretching. CHECK
    Go to the Gym just go. Hmmmm

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      Lol! Suck it up, Tulisaa, and get your ass to the gym. (I did it — wasn’t so awful. Bad, but not awful. Heh.)

      And Bonnie, chica — you are one smart woman.

      Will report back after sparring tonight. If there’s anything left of me…

  5. Hillari April 26, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I usually go to the gym when I’m sick, which is probably not a good idea. I also went to the gym after being hit by car. My left knee was jacked up, and I was on a cane. The coach looked at me like I was a nut. “Why are you here?” he asked. “I can still hit the bags,” I replied.

    I remember staying away from the gym once when I was really low sick (probably with the flu). It took me a couple of days or so to get back into the groove. Doing the footwork seemed to be the hardest thing to get back into.

  6. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 27, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Ok, Hillary, you are certifiably insane and it’s now on the interwebs for all to know. Whew, after a car accident? With a cane? Crazy, but also kind of cool. 🙂

  7. Sallie June 25, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Nice to see others that thrive on organization. Spreadsheets are basically oxygen to me. Just get to the gym – I like it, JUST GO. Sometimes motivation can drag us down, and putting it off until tomorrow sounds good. You just gotta dig deep and go. Once you start, the body gets going, and afterwards you will be happy and satisfied that you went. Thanks for the post!

  8. Reggie | The Best Walking Shoes Guide October 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Cannot say yes enough to point #1. I use to drink a lot of soda and about a month after quitting cold turkey, I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt. I felt a lot less bloated and eating better gave me much more energy than any soda could do.

    The longest time I’ve been away from the gym was six months. It happened before I know it… just from missing ONE session. Now I know never to do that again. I got back into it just from the physical appearance of my stomach getting larger and less fit. That was enough psychologically to get me back in the gym

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