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