jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
[personal profile] jedusor
I started playing hockey last fall, and quickly realized that in a game context my limitations were more fitness-related than skill-related. Skating has been my primary form of exercise for a couple years; I hadn't had a gym membership in quite a while due to a confluence of money, schedule, and tendonitis difficulties. In February, I found a gym just a few blocks from my house that's open late, and decided screw it, the tendonitis hasn't gotten better in a year and change, I might as well just start lifting again.

My fitness priorities this time around are mostly hockey-related:

1. Cardio, because running on fumes the whole last period (especially in games when we only have two players per wing) is no fun
2. Strength, lower-body for skating and upper-body for posture and shooting
3. Flexibility, more for my own comfort than for hockey, though looseness helps with posture too
4. Weight, for speed

I've been working out every day since February, which I didn't actually set out to do--it's just that I already skate on the weekends and Wednesdays, so adding two upper-body days and two lower-body days at the gym each week works out to daily exercise. I find that I like having it as a part of my everyday routine. I like my gym a lot; no one talks to each other, which is perfect for my workout preferences, and the atmosphere is just right to get me moving.

My hockey has improved a ton. The last few games of the season, I never felt too gassed to skate, even at the end of long hard shifts, and that's huge. My skating power is much better, which helps with speed even though I'm not any lighter. My shot still sucks in actual games because I freak out when I get opportunities, but it's several hundred percent better in practice. I'm better at staying low because it doesn't wear me out too fast anymore. It's great.

Seeing numerical improvements at the gym is also fun, though I think they don't matter quite as much to me as they do to a lot of people. I'm not measuring my success by them, but it's cool to pick up a thing I couldn't pick up last month, and to have no trouble with a resistance number on the cardio machine that used to be the peak of my ability. I'm using the arc trainer for cardio, and I love love LOVE it. It's like an elliptical, but it doesn't fuck up my hip, and it focuses more on the glutes (very important for hockey). I like getting to know my physical abilities, and learning to predict myself, especially with heart rate stuff. After doing 30-50 minutes of cardio every day for two months, I know really well how hard I can push my body and when and how much I need to let up. I used to push too hard and need to stop entirely to recover; now I can manage my energy enough to make sure that doesn't happen. Except sometimes with the weight training, which is all about testing and stretching boundaries, but even there I have a better sense of when I'm going overboard.

This is the first time weight loss has ever been a goal of mine, even as a bottom priority, and it's shaking up some weird emotions. It's actually the only one of those goals that hasn't had measurable results yet, though I think that's because of the muscle I'm putting on--I do see differences in my body shape, the kind of differences I think most people going for weight loss would be happy about, but actual pounds are what's relevant to me. Strength matters more, though, so it's fine.

The body-perception thing, though. Losing fat has made me pay more attention to what my body looks like, because I'm curious about what's happening to me physically, and I don't like the effect it's had on my self-image. I've always been super chill with my body, because I care more about what it can do than what it looks like, and examining my appearance critically has never been a big part of my life. But now I'm kind of monitoring my shape more, and that's led to judging it more, and I'm not super happy about that. It's kind of the opposite of how this process goes for most people, I think--I'm noticing my smaller waist when I put my hands on my hips, my thinner face when I look in the mirror, the lack of fat between my shoulder blades when I lean against a wall, and none of those things are really positive because I never gave a shit about them before. It's not like I suddenly hate my body or anything--I love being able to keep my heart rate up for forty minutes, I love having abs, I love doing the front splits almost to the floor, and I really love being better at hockey. It's just strange, and not entirely in a good way.
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