After a year or so of not getting around to working out, within the last month or so I've finally gotten back in the habit... well, more or less; I haven't been going to the gym every day as I've intended, but I have been going more days than not. Part of the reason I haven't been going more days is because, well, I find the process very unpleasant. I hate working out. I want to lose my gut, so I'm doing it, but I really hate it.
Actually, working out on the machines I don't mind all that much. The hard part, the part that really kills me, is the cardio work. I don't know; perhaps I'm overdoing it. I am now going to describe in detail what my regular cardio routine comprises, which is probably something no one is interested in, so feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. I run on the treadmill for fifteen minutes each time I work out. The first twelve minutes I run at six miles per hour, at a six degree incline for the first six minutes, then a three degree incline for the next three, and finally at one-point five degrees. The last three minutes are for cooldown: two minutes at four miles per hour (one minute still at a one point five degree incline and one minute at no incline), and the last minute a leisurely stroll at two miles per hour.
Now, I'd hoped that this would get easier after a few iterations. It hasn't, really. Each time I wonder whether I can get through it. (Occasionally I don't, entirely, and have to support myself briefly on the armrails for part of the time.) Each time, by the time I finally get to the cooldown, I feel completely worn out and at my limit. It's enormously unpleasant, but I keep doing it because, as I said, I want to lose my gut.
Yesterday, I had a movie shoot in the evening, and I didn't really have my lines down. Now, I'd briefly considered once or twice before bringing something with me to read on the treadmill, but had never done so, but in this case it occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone, and bring the script with me and go over my lines while I was running.
(Because it's irrelevant to the present story, and I don't want to either leave anyone wondering after the post is over or end it in an anticlimax by going over this then, I suppose I may as well state now that despite my concern about my lines (which I still didn't really have down when the shoot began) the shoot ended up going well, the director seemed happy with my performance, and there were no serious problems, the biggest issue being a cricket that got in the shot once.)
As it turned out, yesterday running on the treadmill seemed much easier than it had previously. This, in itself, wasn't too surprising; I guessed that having something to keep me occupied other than just focusing on the running probably helped out on some psychological level. Certainly I didn't seem to be actually exerting myself any less than usual; I had the treadmill on the same settings as usual, and the readout on the treadmill showed the same number of calories burned and the same distance covered.
What was surprising came during the cooldown phase of my workout. The treadmill includes instruments that measure the user's heart rate when he grips a certain bar. The heart rate monitor is not recommended for use at more than four miles per hour, so I don't use it until then. Anyway, I was startled to find that this time my heart rate reading was significantly lower than usual—about twenty percent lower. That seems like a big difference. So I guess having something to occupy me while I'm running does more than just make it feel easier—apparently it somehow does actually have some physiological effect. Assuming the readouts on the treadmill are accurate, I'm burning just as many calories, but I'm having a much easier time of it, and my heart isn't working as hard. This seems like a good thing.
So. I guess from now on I'll be bringing a book with me to the gym...