Hello Carrots ‘N’ Cake readers! I’m Dori from Dori’s Shiny Blog. Back in March, Tina put out a call for guest posters and I emailed her right away (I am a big fan!) told her I would love to do a guest post. And then 6 months went by, life got in the way, my blog got a makeover, and now here I am.
At that time, I planned to do this post on everything I knew about spinning – attire, clip in shoes, heart rate monitors, instructors, music and how I went from despising it from being addicted to it. But my focus has since changed. Back in March, I was spinning ALL the time, 4 or 5 times a week. I would run out of work, rush home, change my clothes, wipe off my makeup and dash next door to my very expensive yet convenient gym to make it to 6:30 spin class.
After spin? I rushed back home, showered, dried my hair, put on my outfit for the next day, threw some stuff in a bag, got in a cab and went to my boyfriend’s for the night. I got there late and had dinner late.
This arrangement clearly sucked. It was hectic and frustrating and annoying. But I wouldn’t change anything because I got it in my mind that I needed to do an intense, sweaty, calorie-burning, heart-pounding workout every day in order to remain thin. I thought I needed to burn a minimum of 400 calories in each spin session and if I didn’t make it to that number by the end of the class, I would spin right through the stretching part to reach that goal. On the days I went far past 400, I was extra thrilled. The sweatier I got, the happier I was. If I didn’t think the workout worked up a good sweat, I was not a happy girl.
But I wasn’t miserable. I did love spinning. When I wasn’t there, I craved it. I looked forward to it each night and if I had other plans I would be upset that I was missing it. I purposely made plans on certain nights depending on who the instructor was and whose class I would be missing. If I missed one teacher one week, I would try to make sure I got to his/her class the next.
Needless to say, this was exhausting. Physically, mentally and emotionally. But I did not consider making any schedule adjustments. How could I? How else could I burn 400+ calories in 45 minutes?
Spin consumed my thoughts. I would think hard about my weekends and whether or not I could fit in a class. If I could, I did. There was one day where I went to spin in the evening. The next morning at 6:30am I went to spin again. Then I went back that evening. Twice in one day. Three times in 24 hours.
One day my knee started hurting during spin. At first I ignored it. The pain became more intense and lasted longer through class. I started wearing my knee sleeves that I use for running but they were very uncomfortable during spin and didn’t seem to help anyway. I kept spinning until I became so worried about the pain (which I started feeling even when I wasn’t at spin) that I decided to see an orthopedist.
I went to the doctor, he sent me for an MRI and the diagnosis was bursitis. The treatment was physical therapy and rest – no spinning. I put my gym membership on hold and dreaded all the weight I was going to gain.
As Physical Therapy went on and I worked out less than I had in months, I began to feel happier. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. After work, I was free to go straight to my boyfriend’s. No packing needed. If I wanted to work out, he had a gym in his building. But the most noticeable difference – if I didn’t want to workout, I didn’t.
I was surprised to see as the weeks went by that not only was I not gaining weight, I was actually losing a few pounds. Around this time I was also learning more about eating real, whole foods and not fat-free this and low-cal that, which surely contributed. But food aside, I was not burning 400 calories a day, not getting sweaty until I was dripping, not pushing my heart rate up to 200 BPM – and rather than gain weight, I lost a few pounds, stabilizing to my body’s natural weight. I was relaxed and free and finally enjoying life. When I wanted to work out, I did. When I didn’t, I didn’t. I tried to fit exercise into my life in some way every day, such as taking a walk outside at lunch time. But I stopped feeling pressure. Making plans after work became no big deal because I didn’t have to stress about which spin class I was missing. Pushing myself to the limit every day was a horrible thing to do to not only my body but to myself.
My bursitis has healed. I’ve been back to spin a few times and I had fun and felt great, but I did not feel any need to take it back to my old level. I have, however, fallen in love with other workouts. Workouts that, for me, are far more rewarding. I started running outside and what I most appreciate about this is that becoming the runner I want to be is a slow process. Improving takes time and if you want to avoid injury you have to take it slowly – but there is always more to improve. I recently ran in not one but two 5K races and was so happy with my race times – and I’ve got to say, being happy with my time felt a million times better than being happy that I burned a lot of calories. The sense of accomplishment cannot compare!
I also take a class that combines strength and stretching called Core Fusion. The movements in that class cause a painful burn, but when it is done, I feel amazing. I feel stronger and stretchier and peaceful. It feels like I did something wonderful for myself. These workouts are rewarding for me in a way I never could have experienced with spinning.
When my knee started improving, I made a decision that I am so proud of – I quit my gym membership. It took an injury for me to learn the following, which I hope will help some of you stuck in the same situation:
You don’t need to kill yourself in the gym every day to be thin. Exercise and food choices are important. Forcing yourself to burn X number of calories a day and not stopping until you do, not as important. Do you really want to spend your workout obsessing about calories? I used to watch that number on my HRM throughout my workout. Not fun! Now I don’t even let it show me that number until after the workout is over, and I don’t even care what it says. Speaking of calories . . .
Unless you are counting calories, having a calorie burning goal is BS – a real goal should be achieving something you didn’t think was possible, pushing yourself to (and surpassing) your limit without going overboard. My goal was to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes. I never thought I’d be able to run a mile, and then I finished 5K in 28:46. My next goals? A 1 mile and a 5 mile race in October! But, keep the next point in mind:
Know when enough is enough. As Tina often says, it is important to prioritize workouts. I completely agree. But it is also important to know when to prioritize friends, family, socialization and relaxation!
Treat yourself well. Treat your body well. Part of treating yourself and your body well is creating a balance between exercise, food, friends, family, work, free time, hobbies – a balance that works for you. Which reminds me, when it comes to exercise –
Do the exercise you want, when you want it, for the right reasons. The right reasons are different for everyone. What is right for me might not be right for you. Spinning 5 days a week might be right for you! If you love it, do it. But stop and think about if what you are doing is right for you. Which brings me to my last point:
As important as exercise is – and believe me, I know it is crucial for so many reasons – sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself if you are happy. Hopefully it doesn’t take an injury for you to realize what I did.