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It Doesn't Feel Like Work

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

"Work" out. The term implies that some WORK must be done, some effort must be put into the equation. And, for most of us, work isn't exactly a fun thing we look forward to. That being said, I enjoy a lot of my workouts. I guess I'm just one of those lucky people who like working out. Or, better yet, I like the results of working out. I like how it makes me feel, I like the earned sweat, I like the pride in myself that bursts through my chest after a difficult workout I felt I couldn't survive but somehow did. I chase that high all the damn time - and it's helped me lose 157 pounds thus far, so what's not to love, right?!

Still, I tend to lean toward more hardcore workouts than workout light. Other than my yoga, most of my workouts require a lot of effort and end in a puddle of sweat. And I like it that way...I really, really do! It feels like I earned something and I can be proud of what I just did. Every time I get done with one of those workouts, I feel like I just kicked the @ss of everyone who told me I couldn't. It's my sweet revenge and I usually walk out of the gym with my head held higher than it was going in. (And it's pretty high going in because even just showing up at the gym is often a victory for me...that place can be scary and my frustration likes to get the better of me...plus, I think about all the people who AREN'T going to the gym and all the people I'm joining there and I realize I'd rather be like those I'm with in that hot, smelly place.)

So work out = work for me. I've liked it that way and it's gotten me this far.

Until now.

Swimming is...well, swimming just doesn't feel like work. Even as a young girl in the pool I wasn't one to simply splash around here and there and call it a day. I love doing laps and diving to the bottom and doing flips or whatever keeps me busy. Otherwise, well, it just feels like a bath to me. A pool or a lake is not a bath. I'm there to have fun and do something I can't do on land. In the water I can twist and turn my body in ways that would have me flat on my face on the cold hard ground.

Like running, swimming feels...magical to me. I always say that running feels like the closest I can get to flying with the birds. And swimming? Well, I imagine myself as a bit of a fish, a mermaid, or, better yet as it's my favorite animal, a penguin. I glide through the water. Well, I feel like I do.

What I think I look like when I'm swimming:

What I'm pretty sure I actually look like:


So this morning I swam part 1 of the 0 to 1650 program. The program is set up sorta like Couch to 5k, but for swimming. You go from swimming 0 yards to 1650 yards, or one mile, freestyle without stopping. This morning my task was to warm-up with 100 yards (5 laps in my pool) with any stroke. I typically just slowly go through the water switching between breast, back, doggy paddle, and sidestroke with a few strokes of freestyle thrown in. Those 5 laps are just warm-up and, for me at least right now, they just don't matter as far as form is concerned - it's all about function. After that warm-up you do the following:

3x100, with a 12 breath break between 100s (5 laps in my pool)
3x75, with a 10 breath break between 75s (I have to break this one up a bit more as I have a 20 yard pool - so I do 2x80 and 1x60, which is almost the same. That's 4 laps x 2 followed by 3 laps once)
3x50, with a 8 breath break between 50s (I have to break this up to, so I do 2x60 and then 1x40, which adds the 5 yards I missed in the previous and then levels out to the same distance)

All in all, it's 680 yards + the 100 yard warm-up = 780 yards (I'm not counting the warm-up yards though) total. Plus, I did another lap of cool down before stretching.

I worried about this the entire way to the gym (for me that's almost an hour drive!)...and then got to the last 2 laps and thought, uhm...wtf?! This is NOTHING!

Of course, had I thought harder I would've realized that my form was starting to slip, as was my breathing pattern, which meant I was getting tired. Plus, I wasn't pushing full force for speed as I'm working on distance right now - speed will come much later. But, still, at the end of my last lap I nearly took off again for more and had to stop myself. I can't get ahead of myself...that's the mistake I made with running and I won't make it again.

But all through my shower I just kept asking myself, "Is this really enough? I mean, I'm not even tired...I could've done MUCH more! It only took me about 30 minutes and I was expecting at least 45 minutes today! Do I need to amp it up? Is this even a "work"out?" And then in my mind flashed pictures of all the great swimmers we know and love and I thought to myself -- "I don't think they were running to get into that good of shape." No! They were swimming! Lots of swimming built those bodies! Sure, there was more than likely some great cross training in there, but for the most part, their routines consist of swimming, swimming and, oh, yeah...more swimming!

And then my mind asked again if it was enough...because it didn't feel like work.


It SHOULDN'T always feel like work! DUH! Why didn't I see that before? I mean, I sorta did, but then again...I should be doing things I love doing. I'm not exercising to become a figure competitor. I'm not trying out for the Olympics. But I love training in things. I love swimming. So why the hell should I question whether swimming will be enough or not?

Does it make me want to do it again? HELL YES!

Does it get me excited about being active? Uhm, YES!

Does it make me want to do more, learn more, be better at it? YES! YES! YES!

So why the hell am I even questioning it in the first place? Because trudging my way through a stupid 45 minute class I hate but gives me a good sweat...well, that's short term. It's a way to lose weight - a means to an end - it's NOT something I want to do every week for the rest of my life. I'd rather do the things I enjoy. Where else in life can we just say, "Well, I want to." and have it be GOOD for us? Zumba is not greater than swimming. They are two different beasts. And, right now at least, the beast in me is a swimming fool! I don't mind the stripping of the oils in my hair. I don't mind the fact that I need lotion badly now for my dry skin. I don't mind water in my ears (okay, I do, but I'm fixing that). I love it. And I'm just going to enjoy it.

Who cares how many calories I'm burning?
Who cares if I'm going to lose 2 pounds this week from swimming alone?
I'm being active.
I'm getting better and better each time.
My stroke is improving (I think).
My breathing certainly is...as is my stamina.
And I'm having a BLAST doing it!

I look forward to the next time I swim!
I hate off days. Tomorrow is going to suck because I'd rather be in the pool, g'd'it!

My love for workouts come and go, and I need each one and love each one for different reasons...but all that matters is I've found something that I love right now that's keeping me in the gym and making me want to fuel my body properly to support it.

Who says it has to be all work and no play?


emoticon What's your go-to FUN exercise or activity? How do you feel about being active vs. working out? Can it be called a "work"out if it doesn't feel like work?


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SUGIRL06
    I love to swim also but don't have a gym membership with a pool :( I was always a water baby! Glad you enjoy it so much because this is something you want to continue doing because you love it, not because you have to!
    3255 days ago
    Absolute favorite - skiing, 2nd would be hiking
    Love it!
    3257 days ago
    I love those pictures!
    I want to try swimming because I know it would be my fun activity. I don't really have one now, I mean I like working out but I wouldn't consider it fun lol
    3257 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10795864
    I know this may sound weird, but I love the treadmill!

    A brisk walk to nowhere, TV on (just about the only time I get to watch TV), no worries about wind, wet, or cold (the treadmill is in my basement), and cardio is done. That is my workout.

    I also enjoy just walking--around my home, in the office--there is a feeling of real joy for me when I fell my body respond to my brain and just move out. It feels right!

    3257 days ago
    Hike hike hike. I'm communing with nature not burning calories (realized I could skip my piddly 30 minutes of cardio those days though)
    3257 days ago
    I swam for quite a while beacsue I couldn't walk. I loved it...very peaceful. Then I quit my gym. But when I'm in water, I too love to do laps. It is very freeing. I feel his way about tennis, it is just so fun! And it amazes me I can do it and I keep getting better. To burn a butt load of calories is just benefit!
    3257 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7009225
    Swimming is my fun activity too! And while it doesn't feel like work, it burns more calories than you would ever have guessed! Way to go!
    3257 days ago
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    3257 days ago
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