Archives for July 2011

Becoming active

Photo by Richard Yuan, and used under a Creative Commons license

I joined the student rec center yesterday, and today I went to work out in a fitness center for maybe the third time in my life.

I’ve never enjoyed exercising inside, but then again I’ve tended to live in places where I can ride my bike comfortably year-round.  When I previously lived in places with crappy winter weather (Hello, Iowa!), I’ve tended to have to walk a lot in winter anyway because either I didn’t have a car or I lived close enough to campus that I wasn’t allowed to purchase a parking permit and the bus route didn’t come close enough to my apartment to make riding it worthwhile, so I had to walk a lot.

Not so here.  We live five miles from campus, and because I commute with Lucas, my part of Boise isn’t the most bicycle-friendly, and (let’s face it) I’ve been focused more on work than on staying healthy, I haven’t been riding my bike as much as I should.

But my recent bout with pneumonia, plus the fact that my weight has for a couple years been hovering 0.1-0.3 points above the “normal” BMI range for my height, has made me realize I need to maintain better health.  For me this means mostly cardiovascular health, but I ought to toss in some strength training, too.

It’s been inspiring to see my friend Jeff Mather really dive into his explorations of athleticism and healthful living.  For Jeff, that means untangling what it means to be an active person with diabetes, how to overcome mental blocks as well as physical ones with regards to endurance and certain kinds of exercise (e.g. open water swimming), and how to keep track of a variety of health indicators (he’s writing an iPhone app).

I’m nowhere near as ambitious as Jeff, and I don’t face the same magnitude of obstacle he does–I’m fortunate that my own variety of autoimmune challenge has been under control for almost 20 years now–but I’m ready to take some little steps back toward the relatively fit form I enjoyed prior to Lucas’s entrance on the family scene.  I’m also realizing that I’m not the dieting type, so whatever weight loss I want to achieve, I’ll need to do it through burning calories rather than drastically reducing their intake.

Accordingly, this morning I erged vigorously for 2100 meters, then walked (and even ran) on the treadmill for half an hour, then tried out some weight machines for another fifteen minutes or so. This evening I gardened for about an hour and a half, digging holes and hauling soil and setting stakes.  The result? I’m feeling very virtuous.

I’m trying out various workout routines now so that I can (a) establish the habit of exercising and (b) figure out which one will work best with my schedule and avoid the heaviest traffic at the rec center.

How do you fit exercise into your day? And how do you keep yourself motivated? What recommendations do you have for someone just getting back into exercising after a long hiatus? And if you’re an academic, do you exercise at your campus rec center–and if so, how do you navigate sweating (and swimming) near, and sharing a locker room with, your students?


Nine years ago today, Fang and I vowed that we would support one another for better or worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and health.

Challenges not mentioned specifically:

  • survival of a fledgling, and therefore dysfunctional, graduate program
  • loss of a beloved dog, and adoption and relinquishment of a troubled one
  • fifteen months without consistent sleep, courtesy of our infant son
  • tens of thousands of dollars of dentistry, and the accompanying pain and debt
  • a move to Idaho
  • losing tens of thousands of dollars in yearly income–twice
  • the rapid decline of Fang’s industry
  • moving far from family and friends–twice
  • between us, writing and editing a dissertation, a 900-page screenplay, around 800 pages of novel, and a couple thousand blog posts
  • $50,000 of daycare costs and preschool tuition (see the pattern? more “for poorer” than “for richer”)
  • depression, anxiety, scoliosis, shoulder surgery, root canals, bone grafts, skin cancer
  • Fang losing access to a crucial prescription drug, because it’s legal there but not here

Most of those challenges arose in just the past few years.

And yet somehow we’re not constantly at each other’s throats.

Somehow we maintain, at least for Lucas, a semblance of normal family life.

It hasn’t been easy.  It hasn’t always been fun.  The past year in particular has sucked for Fang.

And yet I adore Fang for what he has preserved at his core–an indefatigable Fangness, an acceptance of our joint errancy, and an insistence on finding the humor in it.  A total dedication to fostering the creative spirit in himself, in me, and most importantly in Lucas.

I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Sweetie, here’s to a (much) better year than the last.  Here’s to better stories.  Here’s to (literally) brighter smiles (and soon).

Happy anniversary.