Thursday, 29 May 2008

It just goes to show you.

Last night I made what I would consider to be a classic fitness rookie mistake.

At 7.00 I decided to go for an hour's ride. I didn't really feel like it, for some reason, and three minutes into the ride the thought popped into my head, "I shouldn't be doing this". It was surprising how un-able I felt for the exercise. I thought it was just a weak moment, so persevered anyway.

The thing about my bike rides, which I've mentioned before, is that I've got literally one block before the sharp descent begins. Once I've made the descent, I'm committed to going back UP at some point. So I've got one block to change my mind about the whole thing.

I got down to sea level and started the fat-burn portion of the workout. This is an 8-kilometer ride, round-trip, before I start the climb back up to my house. The climb is 1.7 kilometers straight up - I zig zag, however. I end up going a good bit further than 1.7 kilometers, but at least my heart doesn't explode.

Weirdly, I found I was going uncharacteristically slowly. I couldn't seem to get my speed up. I felt heavy and slow and breathless. What's more, walkers and roller-bladers kept straying into my lane, forcing me to slow way down, or stop, many times. After each stop, I had more and more trouble getting my speed back up.

On the way home I mentally chided myself for laziness, and forced myself to step it up. It felt awkward and laborious, though.

I got within sight of the beginning of the end-of-ride climb and realised there was no way I was making it up that first hill with no momentum. I kicked it way up for a couple of hundred meters, figuring I'd get my speed up and hit the hill flying.

Instead, I hit the wall. Just about at the base of the hill, I ran OUT OF GAS. This hasn't happened to me in ages...years, even. I was totally winded, exhausted, and done. I gave it the old college try, but two-thirds of the way up the hill I had to actually get off my bike and walk the rest of the hill.

It was only when I got off and started walking, gasping for breath, sweating, and feeling incredibly faint, that I realised what my problem was.

I had not eaten enough that day.

I had a muffin at 9.30 AM, a few crackers and cheese at 2.30, and a few tablespoons of black bean dip with a handful of baked tortillas at 4.30. I didn't do it on purpose, it was just a busy day full of unexpected guests and untimely phone calls.

I had trouble making it home, my friends. Between the faintness, the muscle tremors, the nausea, and the dehydration, I felt terrible for the entire evening.

Once I got home, I threw some stuff into a blender and gulped it down in an attempt to normalise my blood sugar and get some protein going to repair the damage I might have done. Banana, cottage cheese, yogurt, frozen berries. I would have added some honey or tofu but was out of both.

I think the moral of the story is, if you're running your body hot, you've got to have good fuel going in. All too often we slimmers tend to slash calories relentlessly, while stepping up our output in the form of exercise. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, when it comes to food, less is better.

When I was 19, 20, 21 years old, rowing for the UVic women's team, I made this mistake: only that time I did it on purpose. I thought "Wow, I am exercising a minimum of four hours a day.....I bet if I eat almost NOTHING, I will get really thin!" Well, yes - I did get really thin, but pretty soon my place on the team was in danger because my performance fell so dramatically. I couldn't keep up the exercise while dieting. I jacked up my calorie intake, gained back all the weight, and earned my "5-seat" back.

I'm beginning to wonder whether my tactics should change. I've stated before, on this blog, that I want to lose 15 pounds by my birthday in October. I think I'm realising that my priorities may need weight may not be negotiable. It's possible that I would be better off setting TIME goals - for example, three hours per week of riding, three hours per week of belly dance, three hours per week of heavy gardening or housework. There's no way a person getting that much exercise, and eating healthy food, will be matter what the doctor says about my weight.

In any event, next time I feel like I really shouldn't be doing a workout, I think I'll listen to my body and skip it. There's always tomorrow.

Eat, girls, eat!!


Belinda said...

What a wealth of wisdom! I've had this kind of experience too, to a much lesesr degree, but a great urgency to eat, and an irritability that comes with low blood sugar. Often it's when I've been doing housework on a Saturday. I now know to avoid all housework! :) Ha!

I think that we are all learning that slow and steady wins the race.

I find the support here very motivating and it keeps me flying straight. Thank you so much, Shan and Lightbulb!

Joyful Fox said...

Well Shan,

I guess I shouldn't have but I did. I laughed outrageously loud at your post. I could just see you zigzagging up the hill with the various roller-bladers and such straying into your path. I could just see the redness of your face, the windedness and understand completely when you said your heart may explode.

Oh, friend I have 'so' been there. Mind over matter, push, push, push, and then you have to just to concede that 'this time' you just aren't going to make it.

We do need to eat nutrituously and well-balanced meals and snacks and we all need that reminder.

Hey. I'm glad it isn't just me and thanks for the gut-wrenching laugh!