Friday, June 4, 2010

Working Out

As I mentioned recently, I've been diagnosed with elevated cholesterol. I actually still don't know how elevated it is since I found out via a message from my doctor's office and I never took the time to call back. I wasn't particularly shocked by this revelation, considering a long family history of heart attacks and two parents on cholesterol meds, but I suppose I was hoping to avoid this diagnosis this early. I'll admit that my eating habits aren't stellar, but compared to the average person, I think they're actually pretty good. A quick scan of my kitchen produced very few products with more than a few milligrams of cholesterol, and I rarely see anything with more than 1.5 grams of saturated fat. Now, we do eat out from time to time, maybe 3-4 times per week depending on the week. And I know I could make healthier choices when we do, but really, if I'm going to go out to eat and pay that much, I'd prefer to eat what I want, within reason. And it's not like I have dinner out every night, so a couple not-so-healthy meals per week really doesn't scare me. But if push came to shove, yes, I could get steamed broccoli and grilled chicken instead of the burger and fries. My issue at this point is that I don't think that cutting that stuff out is going to make that big of a difference since in general my diet isn't that horrible. There just isn't that much there to overhaul. I could be wrong, but I just feel like I'm destined to end up on Lipitor at some point anyway, because, let's face it, a life without french fries just doesn't sound that appealing.

One of the other things I can do to lower it is work out more. I currently work out once per week on Thursday evenings. I go to an Instructor's Challenge class that is taught by a rotating set of instructors. No two classes are ever the same, and I like that. They usually follow a similar form, but not always. It's generally a few sets of strength training exercises interspersed with cardio. Sometimes the weight training is a series of different moves, and sometimes we have a circuit that we rotate all the way through. Cardio might be running the endless stairs in the building, grabbing a cardio machine, or running outside. I like the variety and it's definitely enhanced my fitness a bit. Unfortunately, unlike my old class I don't think this one will be as flexible when pregnancy #2 comes along. But for now it's been really helpful. It's even gotten me on a bit of a running kick, which I have never done. I still don't particularly like running, but I do get a better sense of the power and potential within my body when I run. Last year at this time I completed the Chase Corporate Challenge, a 3.5 mile race. I'd never run that long before, and it was pretty impressive considering the whole race was in a torrential downpour and I was probably carrying around about 10 pounds of water in my clothes. This year's race was last night, but my company didn't participate. I decided to run the 3.5 miles anyway, just to make sure I could still do it, and so last night I hopped on the treadmill and did it. It was hard, but it felt great to finish.

Even before the cholesterol diagnosis, my doctor had suggested I work out more. Before Jacob I tried to work out 2-3 times per week. The summer before I got pregnant, I also bought a bike, so even if I didn't hit the gym, I could always take a nice bike ride. But I haven't ridden my bike at all since that summer, because the next year I was pregnant and since Jacob was born I just haven't felt like I've had the time to do it. I'm sure I'm wrong and I'm just not utilizing my time well. I often think about how easy it should be to take a run or a ride, but it's just not. Time on the bike is time away from Jacob. Our weekend afternoons are usually busy anyway, even with naps (which I often like to participate in myself), and evenings are tough because we're usually rushing from dinner to the little bit of playtime I have with Jacob each day to bedtime...and by then it's dark out and less safe for riding. Perhaps I should be more selfish and take the time, but my time with him is so limited as it is. Oh, and in case you're thinking I should just take a walk with Jacob, that's generally a tough prospect in the evenings because he inevitably falls asleep and it makes for a much more complicated bedtime if he falls asleep too early. But it's not impossible, just awkward.

One thought I had was to get a baby seat for my bike. I rode around in one on my mom's bike when I was little and I remember enjoying it. The back-mounted ones like that make me nervous, though, for many reasons. I can see it seriously throwing my balance off, and I don't like that I can't see behind me. Trailers make me nervous for that reason as well, and probably even more because Jacob would be that much farther away from me in general. If I got one, it would probably be a front-mounted one. I think I'm short enough that it wouldn't bother my legs, but I think I'd still be able to see over it ok. I'd also feel like I might have the ability to shield Jacob somehow in the event of a crash. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it would still be easier than it he was behind me. I'd need to get a helmet for Jacob (and yeah, probably me too one of these days), but baby helmets are tough to find. Standard ones in stores are for 3+, so it would most likely be a slightly pricey online purchase. But the whole thing just scares me. Granted, in all the years that I've ridden a bike, I've never had a major accident. A couple minor falls, perhaps, but nothing that gave me anything more than a few scrapes....and not in a very long time. So why would accidents start now? But still, if anything ever happened to Jacob while he was on my bike, I'd never forgive myself. There are a lot of sobering statistics about injuries to kids on bike seats, but I'd have to think that most of those are helmetless and in the typical back-mounted version that throws off your balance more than the front-mounted ones. But still, it's scary. But I do think it would get me out and about more, and I think Jacob would like it too. But is it worth the risk? Or should I just forego time with him and force myself to get on my bike solo or head off to the gym an additional day? On the bright side, Craig's schedule eases up considerably during the summer, so if there's any time it's possible, it's now.

I'd like to get in better shape. Running is empowering, and there's always a nice rush from a good workout, regardless of the type. I'd like to think that taking care of an active toddler and keeping a household up and running is enough activity, but based on what I see in the mirror, it's not. But there's always the lure of that adorable little boy...and when he's not around, dozens of things on a mental to-do list readily take his place. The never-ending battle of motherhood--arranging priorities so nothing suffers...

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