#429: The Gym Streak

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Although the year 2019 ended on a sour note, there is one thing I can remember about that year that was positive and welcoming. It’s the fact that I went to the gym at least three times a week (usually only those three times, but with a few exceptions to the rule) every week all year, no matter the circumstances. I mention this because the year 2020 has started and I’ve already failed in continuing my gym streak. I won’t be able to say in January 2021 that I went to the gym at least three times a week every week, because I failed to uphold the streak on the first week of 2020.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s my fault that that happened. Circumstances arose that made it impossible for me to get to the gym, and I didn’t have the available equipment to continue the streak in the way I would have wanted to. Something wonderful about my previous living space was the accessibility of the gym; it was literally right across from our apartment, so I had no excuse but to go. I know I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but it’s worth repeating because it really may have changed my life and let me live a more healthy lifestyle. I worry a bit about the person I might become here, if I’ll be as motivated to step out of my comfort zone and go to a more public gym. I did it once or twice in the past but it won’t be the same.

Regardless, this blog post was supposed to be about mourning the streak itself. I wish it didn’t end how it did, because I’ll almost always remember it as having a sour, miserable end. Sometimes I just wish things had turned out a bit differently.

#336: The Run

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It’s difficult for me to run these days. I know that’s weird to hear coming from someone who’s 24 years old and supposed to be in my physical prime, but realistically, I’m not. Let’s just be honest with ourselves for a bit.

Running, though, is difficult. I like to walk quickly when I go to the gym, rather than run, because first of all, I don’t like sweating all over the place, which most definitely would happen if I started to pick up the pace much more, but secondly, I like the relaxed pace of walking and getting my steps in while still working out, technically. I’m working on my cardio. When I was in college, I took a class called Walking as my required physical education class for the teaching program. It was fantastic, and we actually walked pretty frequently and got lots of steps in. I didn’t do very much there and I didn’t make many friends in that class, but at the very least I didn’t have to pass a class like fencing or kick-boxing like some other people. (That being said, I’ve been meaning to get back into kick-boxing ever since I quit karate. I’d love to try something like that again.)

There are also “runs” of things. Like running a dungeon, or doing a dungeon run, which incidentally mean two different things. Video games and their lingo are totally confusing and I don’t blame anyone for feeling like it’s too much to grasp at once. Dungeon run is a special game mode in Hearthstone, and running a dungeon is the act of signing up for and completing a 5-player instanced dungeon in World of Warcraft. Is the distinction really necessary? Absolutely not. But it exists regardless and that’s all that matters. Running is just running to me.

#176: The New Year’s Resolution

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A bit late to be discussing New Year’s Resolutions, isn’t it? But alas, here we go.

This year, I decided I wanted to go to the gym more frequently. Instead of doing my usual, sporadic gym appearances, I wanted to keep a consistent track record of exercising. I would write my times on the calendar and add up the minutes I’d worked out each month. I would work out for at least 30-35 minutes each time, and I would go to the gym at least 3-4 days a week. So far, since January, I’ve achieved my basic goal of at least 3 days a week, though hopefully throughout the year I’ll get better at reaching 4. It’s a work-in-progress, for sure.

Writing my times on the calendar has actually motivated me quite a lot. I like seeing the red ink mark each calendar day, and I like being able to visualize how well I’m doing each week. I also like seeing how past weeks went, as a way of motivating me to try harder or push myself more in the coming weeks. Though I’m by no means a gym fiend at this point, I’ve found myself liking my gym trips more and more since January started. I’ve made it four months without breaking the streak, so I should be able to keep things steady through December! Here’s hoping things work out.

It also helps that I’m really close to the gym. Being practically adjacent to the gym is one of the best parts about living in apartment 601, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I attribute my willingness to go to the gym partially to the fact that it’s so damn close to us, so I can’t make up as many excuses! If the gym was a drive or so away, I would be less motivated.

#134: The Fitness Pal

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Let’s talk about physical fitness, everyone’s favorite subject!

When I first started exercising fully, I did so in my dorm room in London while studying abroad. I was motivated to get into better shape, and walking around the city by myself (or with a companion) allowed me the opportunity to do so. It was only cardio, nothing more than that, but it still fulfilled my desire to work out more regularly.

The smartphone app, My Fitness Pal, is what helped me take charge of my health and fitness, and I’ve used it off and on since then. I used it while I was in London, tracked the food I ate each day and weekend, and I made sure to put in all the foods I didn’t normally have on the app. Thankfully, the app has a great deal of options for foods and you don’t usually have to put foods in by yourself. It goes in all on its own!

When you log into the app, it puts you on a screen that marks Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snack. You can enter your food and nutritional info anywhere in any of the categories, and it fills up the amount of calories you’ve had during the day when you enter food. You can also add exercise, and it counts the amount of calories you’ve burnt and calculates those into your daily total of calories, too. It’s a wonderful little app, and without it, I don’t think I would have been able to lose weight like I did back in 2014. To think that was five years ago at this point is crazy! I can barely believe it. I’ve changed so much since then and also because of that time period. I should write about it more often.

#68: The Bike

No, I never learned how to ride a bike. I failed at pretty much every attempt, and after repeated failures and my father’s growing impatience with me, I resigned myself from ever learning how to ride. It made my childhood feel a bit like I’m missing out on something, because as an adult, it is a bit embarrassing to ask someone to teach me to ride a bike. Like folding laundry, driving a car, and washing dishes, it is assumed you know how to do this by the time you reach 18, in preparation for college. I felt like I had missed out in some small way.

But here I am, riding a bike right now, as I type this blog on my phone. The catch (there’s always a catch with these things) is that I’m pedaling on a sitting bike at the gym. The reason for this blog is to discuss my fascination with the sitting bike, and how it has enabled me to conduct a few important activities in conjunction with exercising. All of these activities make exercising more fun and engaging. For example, I have even more time to write blogs because I can combine my gym time with my writing time. I don’t feel dizzy writing while peddling, nor do I feel distracted or ashamed while surrounded by other, more hard-working gym members around me. They see me sitting on my phone, probably assuming I’m playing a game or texting a friend, when in reality I am in the process of writing a post on my personal blog.

Being on the bike also allows me to read, a DiMartino family tradition. I remember seeing my mom at home on the elliptical, one hand holding onto the machine arm while the other hand held up a book, probably a romance novel or something involving Outlander. To me, this initially seemed like a difficult task, reading at the gym, given the fact that I have a hard time concentrating on and devoting myself to more than two tasks at a time. But after trying it myself, and a little bit of practice here and there, I can say that reading at the gym is one of my absolute favorite activities. It keeps the pace going without interruption, the only end is when I decide to stop pedaling or the timer on the machine. It gives me motivation to keep going, to push further and further into the chapters. One more chapter, one more page, one more line! Although I’m at the gym right now, I plan on reading more later to make up for the fact that I am spending my time writing rather than doing my usual reading. I blazed through all 300 or so pages of The Last Wish because I had time to read at the gym. My next book, Kitchen Confidential, will also have the same benefit going for it.

#54: The New Year

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2019 is finally here. 2018 is over and done with.

It’s a new year, which means new habits, new routines, new celebrations. I spoke in my last blog post about what new things I’m looking forward to in the new year, such as taking more personal initiative during troubled times, so hopefully this blog resonates in a similar way. I’d like to talk about my goals for 2019, now that it is 2019 (although I’m writing this in 2018 still; don’t tell anyone!)

Here’s what I’ve come up with, so far:

  • Write 300 words on my blog at least once a day (with occasional breaks when necessary, like when I traveled to Michigan and couldn’t keep up)
  • Do Duolingo at least once a day, or at least maintain a streak for over three months (stay realistic, don’t overburden yourself with goals that are too lofty to achieve!)
  • Wake up before 10 every day
  • Go to the gym at least 3-4 days a week
  • Plan frequent weekend trips with Alex to the places we love
  • Discover the career of my dreams
  • Begin seeing a therapist again
  • Adopt and care for a brilliant, lovely little dog
  • Finish my novel by the end of the year

The first bullet point, about writing on my blog more frequently, is a goal I’m carrying from 2018 into 2019; I’ve found this regular writing about my life to be oddly fulfilling and inspiring, and so I’d like to continue doing it and reaching out to people on this website. It will hopefully fill me with the same joy and motivation it did in 2018. Also, it helps having stuff written down, as it almost confirms that it is true, and that I can leave it from my mind for a bit. Having these goals on here also helps me stay accountable; if I’m not holding myself to my own established routines, I can look back on my post about the new year and remind myself of them. Accountability is everything when it comes to goal-setting.

The last bullet point… well, I haven’t started writing a novel yet. But I know I have a novel waiting to be unleashed and read by people, it just isn’t written as of now. I know, though, that at some point, it will come out. I just need to wait on it for a bit. Eventually, you’ll start seeing chapters pop up on here, and sooner or later, they’ll merge into a fully-fledged story before your eyes. Watch out!

#45: The Gym

I love going to the gym. I love the high afterwards, the metabolic feeling of accomplishment and joy from a successful workout. I love when I’m done and can feel the energy coursing through me, like I just spent all of mine to complete this task and yet I’m invigorated to do more, more, more. It’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment amidst others who are accomplishing their own lofty goals as well. Ultimately, the gym is where we go to improve ourselves, to harden our resolves and grow physically. Admiring those who go to the gym more regularly than myself is one of my most common gym activities; it can be easy to get caught up in the marvel of it all, and seeing others perform at levels I couldn’t hope to reach soon is oddly inspiring and motivating.

I love the sounds and sights of the gym: the racing of feet on the treadmill, the pacing to and fro on the elliptical, the wheeling front and back on the sitting bike, the heaving and hoing on the pull machine, the crunches and pushups on the floor mats. I don’t usually do weights or floor exercises, at least not yet, but I admire what it takes to complete them the same way I admire all gym activities. It’s a kind of mutual appreciation, maybe.

My connection to the gym, I guess, is mostly admiration for those who are here every day. It’s like looking at The Rock’s Instagram page on a lazy day, and he’s working out at 4am in his personal gym, decked out in every machine you could ever need to accomplish your fitness goals. I look at him and feel in awe of human potential. There’s so much out there that we can accomplish, and taking care of our bodies helps us accomplish those goals. For example, I have aspirations of one day going back to Europe on a backpacking trip, maybe by myself again, and it would be great to not have to worry about whether or not I could climb up the hike in front of me. I remember Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh specifically, as that took a lot of energy from me. I would love to not have to worry about that in the future, and that’s what the gym is here for. I’m thankful for having a gym so close to our apartment, motivating me to always do better. It’s been a real life-changer, in a delightful and positive way.