shaping up

In the last two weeks I wrote about my reading and study goals for the year and beyond. This week I’m looking at health and fitness. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that physical activity is good for one’s intellect and memory as well, so it’s all connected, really, and it would be remiss of me to not set some goals here too.

I actually wrote this post in mid-January, and scheduled it to be published almost three weeks later, so hopefully I’ve made more progress, or otherwise this will help serve as a reminder to myself about what I’m supposed to be doing!

An easy-ish one to start off with: I haven’t been running much in the last couple of months due to illness and laziness and various other excuses, and I’d really like to rectify this. I used to run quite regularly, and in the past I’ve gone running despite rainy days, exhaustingly long hours at work, humid weather, and having so many other things to do; so I’m reasonably confident that I can get back into this without needing much coaxing. In fact, I’m already pretty much back on track. I’m not sure if I want to work my way up to doing 10km runs again, but if I do at least one 5km run every week or so, I’ll be happy.

I do have another fitness goal, though, for which I’m note quite sure what the outcome will be like. This goal is to be able to do chin-ups (or pull-ups) unassisted. Maybe even just three consecutive chin-ups would be good. A friend of mine took up rock climbing last year (or the year before?), and she assures me that it’s very possible to train yourself to be able to do chin-ups. The park near my workplace has some bars I can use, so I’m planning on fitting in some quick practice sessions before/after work.

The reason I want to do this is twofold: first, I want to improve my upper body strength; and second, I want to conquer an exercise that I’ve always struggled to do. This is actually not dissimilar to the time I decided that I wanted to be able to do proper push-ups. I distinctly remember a grade 8 HPE (health & physical education) class in which we had to do a number of different exercises to measure our fitness, and, although I did reasonably well in the other tests, I really, embarrassingly struggled with push-ups. Of course, at that age, I’d never had reason to think about upper body strength, especially since I was reasonably fit and active anyway.

And perhaps it wasn’t a big priority back then, but I worked on it little by little, and now, on a good day, I can do more than 30 consecutive push-ups. I don’t even know if that is a good number, but I figured if I can do more push-ups than the number of years I’ve lived, I will know I’m improving year by year (up to a certain point, of course).

There is perhaps a third reason for wanting to improve my physical strength, which is related to the first reason, and that is that some part of me believes there is some correlation between physical, mental and emotional strength. I say “some part of me” because I’m not sure I wholly believe it, nor do I know when the thought first occurred to me. Still, there seems to be some merit in the idea, since weakness in one area seems to affect my perception of strength in the other two. At least, that might be how that works. Perhaps the influence of one area (I’m not sure which) is stronger than the other two. Honestly, I haven’t thought about this much; just wanted to put it out there. I might ponder this some more and write another post on it.

And between all of this, and to help me achieve all of these goals as well as my reading and study goals, I am still really determined to fix my sleep habits. This mostly means sticking to a more consistent bedtime, which I’ve set as 11pm, which I know is quite late for a lot of people, but I want to start off with something I know I can manage, and adjust from there. I also need to make sure it suits my work hours, varied as they can be. This will hopefully mean less daytime tiredness, less reliance on coffee (although I will allow myself to have one now and then because I do enjoy the taste), and less time wasted “catching up” on sleep on the week-end.

I did start doing this “fix my sleep” thing last year, so I don’t really want to think of it as a New Year goal. The other good habit I started last year was limiting my time on social media. One of the more recent system updates for my phone included a new feature which tracks screen time and lets you set time limits on certain apps. Since using this, my screen time has decreased or stayed close to the same on most weeks (compared to the preceding week), and presumably this time has gone to sleeping or doing something else more worthwhile.

I’ve currently also set a 12-minute daily limit (each) on Facebook and Instagram. It started off at 15 minutes, but I reckon even just knowing that there was a limit motivated me to spend less time on those apps, and I rarely reached the 15 minute mark (some days I don’t use these apps at all). My phone gives me a warning when there’s only five minutes left, and I usually take that as my cue to put my phone down and do something else. I’ve considered setting a WordPress limit, but that’s a bit trickier because I find blogs to be more stimulating and engaging compared to the other two, which are more mindless and simple.

9 thoughts on “shaping up

  1. This sounds fabulous! I agree that chin-ups are especially hard. You make me think I should try again. I think gloves of some type would help (which I don’t have). You’re smart to get into these habits now. I started getting more serious about exercise/fitness in my early thirties. It gets much harder later on to take up new habits. I’m sure too, that it’s all connected: emotions, health, fitnesss, etc.

    • If you do try chin-ups again, please let me know how you go! I started getting callouses after one week, so I’m sure gloves would help (I just don’t have any either). A friend suggested using some kind of resistance band too, but I don’t want to over-complicate all this…

      • I know, I know, Sharon; when I over-complicate things for myself, I increase the chance I’ll procrastinate and fool around. My sister was getting rid of a resistance band she was given so I took it (free!) but haven’t done much with it. Okay, I will definitely try a chin-up!

  2. I cannot do a chin-up, but I can easily walk away from IG and Twitter [not on FB]. I go through phases where I’m all about consistent exercise, then I lose interest and get more random. I’m currently in a random phase.

    • To be fair, my consistency/dedication with exercise can be quite variable too. I’m still determined to do this though!

      I think I’ll try gradually reducing my IG and FB limits, although I’m not so sure about stopping altogether (not in the near future, anyway…)

  3. Pingback: from chin-ups to chilli | pistachio conspiracy #63

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