Blogging around these parts has been a smidge light recently because the Isises have had the flu. I credit our flu vaccines for shortening what could have been a miserable process, but there were a few days where every member of the Isis house (except Little Isis, so I suppose every was hyperbole) looked like this…
Figure 1: An artistic representation of us all.
But, after a couple of days on the disabled list, the Isis family is back in full force. I’ve spent the better part of the last week trolling Twitter with my #rundouchery and #bikedouchery hashtags. It makes me happy to see so many hilarious scientists tweeting about their workouts. Now, several folks have asked recently “Why the “douchery” addition to the hashtag?’ “Douchery” signifies taking an activity to the level where your friends and loved ones start to roll their eyes about your enthusiasm about your activity. For example, this is not bikedouchery:
This is bikedouchery at its pinnacle:
Figure 3: The helmet makes it especially epic.
I would probably be satisfied with this moderate amount of spandex and douchery.
But, I digress. Last week I challenged the Twitterati to think about the intensity of their workouts and then to actively ask the question, could I up my intensity more for 10 minutes of my workout? If your workout is 45 minutes on the elliptical, for example, could you make 10 minutes of that really burn? I had a really great fitness week. On Friday I decided that I was tired of looking at the inside of my windowless office. It was a balmy 39 degrees outside and, other than my 2:15 pm seminar, I had nothing on my calendar of consequence. So, I changed into my running tights, gave seminar, left my briefcase with Mr. Isis, and walked out the door and started running until I got home. I think I may have hallucinated a little at the end, but it was otherwise 10 glorious miles of solitary thinking about life and science.
On Wednesday I also overcame one of my more persistent phobias. I ran with another person. Despite all my claims of douchery, I have never before run with another person. It’s always made me nervous. I was really heavy as a child and didn’t thin out until I became interested in sports as a teenager. My parents were heavy and sedentary and physical activity wasn’t something we ever focused on as a family. In high school I played field hockey and swam and took martial arts classes, which helped with the chubbiness a lot, but ages 7-13 were exceedingly awkward for me.
Figure 4: That’s me at age 11 with 175 pounds on my five foot frame.You might notice the excessive paleness of the legs poking out of my pants. That’s because my mother made me wear compression hose under my pants to hold enough of me in to let me button my pants.
I remember in middle school we had to run a mile in less than ten minutes to “pass” gym class. I couldn’t do it and if you couldn’t do it, the teacher made you try again the next day until you could. Every day for a full school year I ran the loop around the field 4 times, never able to make it in less than ten minutes. At the end of the year, I was the only one still running every day. As I look back at this all rationally, I can see that I was getting faster. I went from 22 minutes to 13 minutes over the course of the year beginning with nothing and I can see that as an accomplishment, but there is also a huge part of me that remembers being red-faced and out of breath and ashamed when the teacher would tell me every day that I had been too slow. I didn’t run again until I was almost 30 and, even then, never with anyone else. I’ve been asked before to run with people and I’ve always made an excuse. Usually, “Oh, you wouldn’t want to run with me. I’m not very fast.” Then I go back to trotting along alone.
Recently one of Little Isis’s teachers asked me about my running and biking. I told her, with my head hung a bit and my toe tapping nervously, “Oh yeah, well, I’m running because I’m going to do this half marathon as a a mid point goal for this century ride in the fall.” She got really excited and told me she’s never run more than five miles. Then came that awkward moment when she asked to run with me and I gave her my usual line. “Oh, you wouldn’t want to run with me…” She kept asking and I kept giving her excuses. I don’t know what made this different except maybe how enthusiastic she was about running with me, but I finally decided I needed to get over it and agreed to a 6 mile run last Wednesday. We had a great time and as we chatted and cooled down, she asked about other people I run with. I had to confess that she had been the first and that the idea of running with another person had always given me paralyzing anxiety. Yesterday we got another workout in together and it was really fun. I realize that I really am irrational sometimes about fitness…
But, back to the hilarity with Twitter. This morning I issued a new challenge to the Twitterati. Those of you following there know that I have been following WeightWatchers along with my fitness program in order to lose the weight I gained conceiving, gestating, and birthing Tiny Diva. I like this program because it’s all based on points for things and numbers feel like data and I am obsessed with data. I also have difficulty accurately estimating how much I should be eating in relation to how active I am and this really helps. You get a certain number of points each day and when you eat something, it costs a point. You get some additional points for the week to use to either eat more regular food or splurge. Then you can earn more points through activity, and this is the root of my challenge for the week.
The challenge this week is to earn 50 “Activity Points” between today and Saturday. You can calculate an Activity Point (AP) by dividing the number of calories you burn in an activity (which I get from my handy heart rate monitor) by 80. So, 80 calories is 1 AP. You can also estimate them based on the intensity of the activity by using this calculator. Just be sure to be honest about your intensity. For those of you motivated by weight loss, that’s 4000 calories, or a little better than a pound of fat lost. For the 70% of you that follow me and are motivated by liquor, that’s 16 beers, 20 glasses of red wine, or 13 glasses of scotch that you can drink guilt free.
Now, do you have to go to the gym to earn your APs? Not at all. One of my followers pointed out that she could earn her APs by walking to and from work this week. For me, I know that if I walk to our seminar building instead of taking the bus, I can earn 1 AP for each direction. If I take the stairs between the first floor of our building and my office, it earns me an AP. You can certainly earn your APs through gym-related activity, but you could also try the BeFit channel on Youtube for great free workouts. The point is not just to exercise, but also to ask how you can be more active throughout the day.
If you want to join the challenge, you can follow the #50APs hashtag on Twitter and post your progress there along with the usual douchery tags. If you’re not on Twitter, you can also post your progress here!