Superstition and Exercise

For a couple of decades I’ve very deliberately tried to have a good exercise day on New Year’s Day as a silly superstition that then the year will go well. Now, as a rational person I know that 1Jan is arbitrary and no different than any of the other 364 days in a year, and, also that one day isn’t really setting up a pattern for the rest of the year. But it’s hard to escape superstitions.

When I lived in California my exercise focus was real outdoor bicycling; here’s it’s mostly indoors. Even though often 1Jan was a lousy day to ride (I recall one really rainy ride) it was still doable and perhaps the effort, alone, was reinforcing my commitment for the rest of the year. But when it’s -2F outside and icy streets, an outdoor exercise session is tough, even with a lot of determination. My attempt, the first year I lived in Omaha, to ride my bike in fairly deep snow was silly AND dangerous, but indoors, on exercise machines in the basement, it’s just a question of getting moving, making the time.

And, in fact, on 1Jan2015 I managed to blow the entire day, mostly watching football and didn’t even do enough a brief session and then on 2Jan other things interfered and I managed only a brief session. But I thought, so what, off to a bad start for the year, I’ll make up for it in the next 363 days. But one thing after another has continued to interfere so 1/3rd of the way through January I’ve only managed about 120 miles on bike and 7 miles on treadmill. Both of those are well beyond the average (for this time in the month) of any of the past 24 months. So somehow the bad start on 1-2Jan is turning into a bad January. So my superstition is rising up and saying that somehow skipping 1Jan is now coming back to bite me.

I’m fairly fanatical about the exercise for a variety of reason (especially as I’d hoped to build up for some long physical trip, hike or bike as my age steadily increases and the number of years I have left to do this is getting very low, so I can’t afford to miss an opportunity because there may not be another one). But most significantly is that I can’t maintain my weight loss without burning a thousand calories or so in exercise. I hit my lowest weight early in 2014 and with some ups-and-downs have managed to (at least close) maintain during 2014. But that’s with over 400,000 calories burned in exercise. Take that away and I will balloon back again. Most people have more trouble with weight maintenance than weight loss – various reports I’ve seen indicate at least 75% of people regain their lost weight within a year. I’ve beaten that, but it’s still a struggle, and now I fear 2015 may be hard (especially given some other issues facing me) to maintain my lower weight. And that’s why my exercise is really critical.

Plus it’s amazing to me how quickly I can lose my fitness (of course, that’s classic for an old fart like me). Just two months ago, after building up to it, I sat a single day and also three day record (if you read my boring posts you’ve seen plenty of my stats and graphs on all this). So I hit nearly peak shape. But now, just two months later, I couldn’t dream of doing that much, single day or three days. Normally, on biking days I do over 40 miles and on treadmill days I do about 8-10. Naturally that takes a lot of time, but: a) I’m retired and have (for the most part) the time, and, b) I’ve figured how to solve the boredom problem of so much boring exercise. But it is amazing to me how quickly I fall off that peak.

I knew this and expected this month to be a strong effort to get it back and instead it has turned out that I’ve had further decline. As you get older you have to think short-term – there aren’t even “tomorrows” to make up for lost time.

So it may be superstition and I may rationally reject the superstition, but I just have this nagging feeling that this slow start in 2015 is a portent for the rest of 2015. Now maybe (and I certainly hope so) things will get better, but at this instant it’s a little spooky that I’m off to such a slow start. So, Dear Reader, you’ll get to hear more about this in the near future, more tedious reports about this boring subject, but these reports, plus some sense I have of having to meet your expectations gives me some impetus to get this done.

Keep up your pressure on me!

About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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