Many of you know I lost +30 kilo’s since September 2019. It didn’t come easy and I still struggle as I love eating too damned much! Plus I battle with depressions a lot and I’m a comfort eater. So those are not good things when you’re trying to lose weight and get in shape.
Let me also assure you that I am in no way a pro! Yes, I did it all on my own. With the help from the machines at the gym and I eventually got a rower and a bike/hometrainer at home. But I still hit the gym for at least an hour every morning.
But, people have wondered how I manage to ride 80 km on my hometrainer. How I manage to keep my legs active for 3+ hours at a time. And I can assure you, it’s definitely not easy but… I’ve trained for it. And even though I don’t have the weight nor shape I would love to have, I still lost 30+ kilo’s so something I did, I did right. Right?
But, before I start this post, I again want to make clear that:
I am not a professional. What works for me me not be the best for you. Starting out, always do it in moderation. Your body needs to adapt to new activities. Don’t push yourself too hard, be kind, but be persistent. If you have any medical issues, please check your health care provider to see if you’re fit/able to start the workouts you will want to take up. 😊 Thanks.
OK, so people have asked me how I manage to ride 80 kilometers for several days in a row. Well, for me, most important, are my painkillers…. It’s NOT the best way BUT I discussed this with my orthopedic surgeon and my GP, and taking painkillers so I can remain active is actually better for me than being immobilized by the pain. I’m not damaging anything, no, I’m making my muscles strong so they can recover better from the major surgery I’m getting in 1,5 weeks (September 6th 2021). So please, if you are in a position where pain restricts you, please talk to your health care provider first! I can totally understand your drive to feel better, as working out really improved me and my self-esteem, but do it safely…
So without my meds, I would not be able to do this… So I’m grateful for them as I actually ♥ love working out! I love riding my bike, I love your walking/hiking, I wish I would be able to run, I do like rowing (I thought I would love it more, but it’s quite hard on my hip so that’s probably what keeps me from loving it).
Before my OD attempt and awful divorce, I was hitting the gym almost every day. I was working out, looking better, feeling better and I thought I was doing great. I had two awesome dogs, a wife that I thought loved me and a nice house. Our incomes combined weren’t shabby and I thought my life was going perfectly… Even though I was able to keep the dog that suited me most (and I her), I sometimes do miss the silly mess of the gall that stayed with my ex….
Me in September 2017, before I hit the gym, before I lost my life, with both my galls… Grateful to still have Arwen as she really saved my life! A lifesaver
I was scared at first to go to the gym. I was supposed to go with one of our neighbors, but after a few times, he already called it quits. But I got the fitness bug and I loved it! A few years before, when I was in my poly relationship with BF and GF, I had more money to spend and I had a subscription at Laco, where I could both swim and fitness. I cannot afford that now, but I always loved going there. Although the fitness was a tad small and some body builders always hogged the weights, which is why I prefer the FitKlub now. It’s better priced and when I go, there’s only a few weight 🏋️ lifting people. And most of those will offer you advise instead of judge you…. Most, not all… But, positive thoughts!
I still had my gym sub after the divorce. But the depression and OD attempt sucked out all my energy. I went to the gym 3 times after the divorce and I just could not enjoy it. I ended up almost crying because I lacked the strength and drive thar I had. I was so angry that my ex had sucked all the joy (except from Arwen) from my life! I was angry with myself for messing it up (though I wonder how much I really messed up and how much I’ve been used…..). I was angry because I could not get anything done and I felt like a failure. Then, I found out that getting alimony would cost me way more than I imagined!! And I got rid of my gym sub…
It took me 13 months of neglecting my body, of over eating, over crying and feeling sorry for myself, to be able to snap out of it and start caring about myself again! It’s the longest depression I’ve ever been in and it was damned hard! My last weight measurements I had written down, pre-divorce, was around 72 kilo’s. As my ex had kept my scale (and I had no energy to fight for it), I knew I had gained weight. I could not fit in shirts and pants that I previously worked so hard for to be able to wear them again… I could barely walk the stairs to the apartment without being winded. I had troubles tying my shoes… But in August 2019, I was able to flip the switch and start making some changes! I needed help from my parents to be able to afford the best/cheapest sub at the gym, but they were more than happy to help as they had seen the self destructive path I had been on… So making a change was well worth it for them! And, their help made it possible for me to hit the gym again!
Again, I was afraid… Afraid of being judged because I was over 106 kilo’s. Afraid I would not get anything done because I was just too fat (my thoughts and words, not from others! I was very hard on myself after I flipped the switch!). I wanted to share my progress on my Insta but the first time I dared to post anything was in January 2020… And I started the gym on October 1st 2019….
I didn’t like my own reflection and I was afraid that others would judge me as harshly as I did myself. And my next picture would be shared in March, just before the first long lockdown…
OK so now you know all this…….. Let’s get to the point, shall I? (I wish I knew how to make quick links in the post so people could just jump to this paragraph if they have been following the blog for a longer time, meaning they knew all this…. But I have no idea how to do it… So sorry about that!).
How did I make it work?
Personal experience, no professional, no pro tips or best ways… “just” how I did it, how I worked from where I was to where I am now…
The first week I re-started the gym, I was only able to do short exercises, 10-15, maybe 20, minutes. Some things are still too hard, like rowing, but that’s because of my hip. I live with fibromyalgia and hypermobility. These conditions create some concern when starting at the gym, but I consulted my GP. And later, I consulted my orthopedic surgeon. If you suffer from anything, please check it before starting a workout and injuring yourself…
So I started on low intensity settings on the cardio machines. I first wanted to work on losing some weight through cardio and eating less. If that went better and I felt less winded after short exercises, I wanted to add some weights then. This was my version of how to do it and for me, it worked… 😊
But first, I used the bike, crosstrainer, treadmill and rower. The bike I was best at, so I quickly upped the time for that a bit.
This is just an example of how I went to work, how I increased my levels and activities. It may or may not work for you, but I didn’t want to injure myself so I took (what some people call) the “slower but safer” approach.
First week I went 4 times… I quickly went to 6 times, because I remembered how much I loved it… But when you’re new at it, or limited in time, I’d say try to get 3 to 4 gym visits a week. For stamina and endurance, try some cardio machines. See which one are suited best for you. The crosstrainer, rower and AMT give a better “full body” workout as you can use your legs, torso and arms. The bike and treadmill focus on your legs, where the bike is (in my opinion) a good way to start working out with. As you sit during the exercise, your body gets less strain and you can focus more on your legs doing the work. That’s what I started each exercise morning/routine with, the bike, as it was an easy way to warm up before hitting the “full body” cardio.
Every machine and brand had their own levels of intensity. So if I use level numbers here, I’ll also say how heavy it is for that machine so you may get an idea.
I *think* the bikes have 20 levels (never gotten higher than 13 or 14 I believe), so when I say I started at level 6it felt quite hard for me. But I had ridden a bike a lot, even used it to get to work and back (which was 24km single journey), so my legs seemed eager to ride again. I started 15 minutes on setting 6. When that felt easier, when I felt less resistance (because of my legs adjusting), I upped the level by 1. So then I’d ride 15 minutes on 7. I set myself a goal of going till 10 and then adding time and lowering the intensity again. So when I could do 15 minutes at 10, I went to 20 minutes on 6. That felt quite easy for me, so the next fitness day, I went for 20 minutes on 7. After that, I worked it up to 10 again. As, by then, I went 6 times a week, I could gain some progress rather quickly. I had not expected it, to be honest.
When I was at 30 minutes, I went beyond intensity level 10. So after I could ride 30 minutes on 10, I went for 30 minutes on 11. As that was getting heavier for me, I went to 12 before I upped the time. So after 30 minutes on 12, I went for 35 on 10… In the end, with some stops due to lockdowns because of Miss Rona, I got to 60 minutes on 12/14, depending how my legs wanted.
Ever since I got my own bike during the second lockdown, I don’t ride at the gym anymore. I now use the crosstrainer as my warming up machine. Also because I now also use the weight machines, so getting my arms ready is a good thing as well. I’m focusing the weights on either my arms or my legs. Sometimes when I struggle with one, I’ll switch to the other so I can get at least 10/15 minutes of weight workouts in.
Now that I have my own bike (if you’re looking for one, I tried to write a decent post with tips here: Fitness – Getting A Hometrainer) I have been expaemy rides. And now, my length and intensity are what my legs allow me… I’ve been focusing on endurance rides. My highest level I’ve been riding on is 10 ( though I’ve tried 11 for a bit but damn, that was hard). But my bike has a decent fly wheel, meaning it has more intensity levels…it goes all the way to 32… Maybe, once I have my new hip, I may be able to get there…. I know I will have to take it easy in the beginning, I know I will have a (major?) setback due to my surgery and recovery… But I’m so damned eager to get my legs stronger! When I used to ride to my work, I slowly got these awesome (well, maybe less than that, but I was kinda proud anyway) legs, calves and upper legs that showed some muscles as I went…
After these longer rides that I have been doing, I do *think* that my legs are a wee bit less “floppy”, but I’m not sure… Could just be that I want it to be and that’s why I’m seeing it? Is it weird that I actually hope that the physical therapist in the hospital, that will see me while I’m there after the surgery, is it weird that I hope to receive some small praise? That my legs are in a good condition, especially for someone in my situation? I know, it’s weird………. But still, it would mean that all the hard work I have been doing did pay off!
Of course, without. It if be way more obese again…… As I know my depression made me eat too much again… So while trying to keep in shape, it also helped me not to gain too much… Yes, I did gain, depression makes me comfort eat…too much comfort needed, too much snacks consumed… 😔 It’s “just” the way it is…
Soooo in the end…. Getting to 80 kilometers rides took a lot of training and persitance. And some days, I still can’t manage it. And while that bums me out, it’s unfortunately the way it is when you have a chronic illness and a bad hip…
So if you want to get better, take it slow. Be kind to yourself. See what kind of cardio exercise suits your needs and your body best. If you find rowing dull but you love riding, even though you train more with rowing, chances are you will keep it up better doing what you like… 😊
Take small steps. Slowly build it up. Maybe make a plan, like I did, to grow your endurance, your skills… Just don’t want to reach the end level before you’ve mastered the lower ones, because chances are, you may injure yourself in the process, making it take longer…. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself a rest day when you need it, just promise yourself to give it your best the next day then! If you find you want to cancel it day after day, then maybe it’s just not for you? Maybe your talents lay elsewhere? Most people at my gym love working out, but I know some that have accepted it as part of their routine, not because they love it, but because it helps them keep a healthier life. So see what suits you best and make a plan…
If it’s possible, a workout buddy could also help you tonz! I wish I had one as I sometimes also lack the motivation to hit the weights, as I prefer the cardio…
Oowww and one thing I do that makes my cardio way more fun: I downloaf a series or movie on a streaming app (as my coverage is bad in the gym and their wifi isn’t that good) and I watch it during the cardio… For the weights I use my music as I cannot put my phone in front of me then. But most cardio equipment has a phone/tablet holder. I use my wireless Galaxy Buds Pro (with noise canceling options)(Review – CoolBlue & Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro) to give me a more fun workout.
I hope this helps you get in your way!
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