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a break in the routine

October 27, 2010

In which I distract you from the subject matter with copious amounts of oatmeal porn.

I mentioned before that I have problems getting back into a routine after taking a break. What I didn’t mention is that I was not just talking about my week off after finishing up the Katsunuma 10k, but also our two week trip home this past June.

Prior to our visit home, I had a pretty good system going. I woke up most mornings by around 7-7:30, had breakfast, and then headed to the gym. I was by no means perfect at this, and remember feeling that I was slacking off a bit by showing up late and not being totally consistent with my activities or effort, but at minimum I went to Group Kick on Tuesdays, strength trained about 2-3x per week, and hit the pool, stair climber or bike maybe once or twice a week, on top of my usual running near home on Thursday and Saturday mornings.

I also did a lot of walking. I have an hour to get to work after the gym, and have long been in the habit of walking the 5km distance; which takes me almost exactly one hour and allows me to pass by a particularly nice and affordable produce stand. I have discovered over time that walking directly affects my personal sense of well-being and level of motivation to live a good life, and has the added benefit of helping me ward off Vitamin D deficiency.

Most days I logged around 10,000 – 15,000 steps on my pedometer (20,000 if I had a particularly active day), and I liked it that way. I kept up this particular routine pretty consistently for a little over a year or so.

Wednesday morning breakfast of Scottish flax oatmeal with almond butter, apple butter, homemade granola, and home cultured greek yogurt.

I knew that it would be difficult to maintain my routine while traveling to several different cities over two weeks and participating in wedding festivities, so I planned ahead and set a couple of ground rules to ensure a certain level of activity while I was away from home and to hopefully make it easier to pick back up again when I returned.

One, my running gear would come with me. It was hard to motivate myself to go running at first, but in the end I think I got in about four runs, and one run that accidentally ended up being a short hike, over the two weeks I was away.

Two, I would not slack off of strength training and would make sure to get in a few minutes every other day. It took me a few days to start this one up. But I did stick with it. I did three sets of crunches, reverse crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, triceps dips, and a 60 second plank every other evening for most of my trip.

So physical activity? Check.

(I had also planned to sign up for a 5k race at the watermelon festival in Chiba my first weekend back in Tokyo as added insurance, but it is very popular and filled up before I managed to register.)

The problem was that I really went a little crazy when it came to eating things I’d missed and celebrating the wedding. I adopted an attitude of “Enjoy it now, worry about your health later” and let it get out of hand. Between old favorites, wedding cake, and regional specialties I ended up eating very differently than I do back home, and this sudden change played havoc on my body.

Although I made my fair share of bad choices on the trip, I think my body would have been capable of handling it under normal circumstances. But these were not entirely normal circumstances.

Just a few months prior to my trip home I had a resurgence of symptoms related to hyperthyroidism after two years of nothing, and I was put back on medication to control it at the beginning of May. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my dose was a bit on the high side, and pushed me over to the slightly hypothyroid side of the fence.

The result? I packed on more weight in my two week vacation than I would have ever expected, and came back my heaviest since I started leading an active life 3 years prior.

It may not have seemed like much to anyone else around me.. but it was pretty demoralizing to me, as I put a lot of effort in taking care of my body, inside and out.

In the time between our leaving the country and returning Tokyo had also turned into a sweltering mass of heat and humidity, which turned out to be the start of the hottest summer on record. I learned very quickly that my usual walking routine was out of the question, as being outside for that long at noon was just asking for a nice ride in an ambulance to join the other tens of thousands already hospitalized with heat stroke.

Since I couldn’t get back into my old routine, I decided to focus in a new direction and began concentrating on increasing my running. Around this same time a Group Power section opened up on Friday mornings at the gym. So instead of my old cross training routine, I was now running 2-4 times per week in the evenings, and using the gym almost exclusively for Group Kick and Group Power.

This is the schedule I have continued with from around July to the present. It has come with its own challenges and rewards, and I am glad that I made the decision to change things up and experiment.

The thing is,  I miss my old routine. I miss walking. I miss cross training. And I miss the feeling of calm and general sense of well-being that it brought into my life.

Now that the race has come and gone, my training is over for the time being, and the weather has cooled off, it seems like conditions would be perfect to slip back into my old routine. And that has long been my goal for this week.

The problem is that it’s been so long since that routine was broken that now I’m not sure how to get back into the swing of things. I find myself looking for subtle excuses to NOT start up again, and it seems that taking so much time away my old activities has brought me to a point where I now seem to loathe the idea of doing anything physically taxing that isn’t running.

I am not sure what to do about this quite yet. But I know that I need to find a way to remedy the situation soon, as the next potential break in my routine is coming up in just 1.5 – 2 short months when I next visit home.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2010 5:09 am

    Why not commit to one day, just one day of walking to the gym? Do whatever it is you have to do to make it happen. Get out your gym shoes/runners (you’re going to walk in them!) and just do it. The weather’s better yes? Less humid? Try it once, if you don’t like it seek alternatives then, but you’ve just said the lack of activity is taking a toll. It can’t hurt to try.

    • October 31, 2010 1:13 am

      Thanks for your comment! Committing to one day would be a good way to start. What I’m most afraid of, though, is that my preferences have shifted too much. I’m concerned that after spending so much time away from the gym, the machines won’t cut it anymore.

      The walking I should be able to handle, though.. once I can talk myself into taking the first few steps!

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