Okay, attempted healthy writer.
Health is a subject that gets more and more air time between me and Mr. Quinn as we age. We’re both in our early 40s and it’s getting easier to see the wear and tear on our older friends and Facebook follows. The grumping about drug prices and knee replacements and hip replacements, etc. It fills my feed.
Things got a little more urgent for me over the summer. Less so for him. He does Ironman distance races for fun and so has a resting heart rate in the 40s. Hmph.
I went for my yearly doctor visit and we talked all things middle age – perimenopause, gray hair, cholesterol, blood pressure, the list goes on and on. Add doctor anxiety and generalized anxiety and well…
The nurse had taken my blood pressure and asked if I was nervous. I was. And it showed in my numbers. And it freaked me out.
As a writer, I am (obviously) pretty sedentary, spending long hours in front of books and computers researching and writing. That, uh, wasn’t helping my situation. I decided to make a change and kind of mustered myself into a walking habit, but it was on again, off again and sometimes more off than on and no clear goal. In other words, I’m not sure it was doing me any good.
I mentioned it to Mr. Quinn knowing that I was stumbling into shark-infested waters. Health and fitness is a favorite subject of his. In the past, his answer has always been, “You should start running.”
I hate running.
But this time? This time he had a different answer. This time he suggested I start heart rate training. Then he sat down and an hour later I had a plan. Bonus! It didn’t involve running.
It works like this. I wear my Garmin watch (a hand-me-down from him) and a heart rate monitor. I walk. I keep my heart rate in a specific range. That’s it.
And it really is that simple.
I walk six days a week. Mondays are my rest day. Tuesdays and Thursdays are ‘endurance’ workouts. The goal is to keep my heart rate in my Zone 1 range. These are usually less than an hour. Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday are ‘recovery’ workouts. Heart rate in the recovery zone, moving the legs, getting the blood pumping. Usually half an hour or less (right now they last about 20 minutes – but they’ve been gradually getting longer).
Saturday long walks. Ten minutes of warm-up and a longer time in Zone 1. This past weekend the whole thing was 54 minutes. Eventually, I’ll be out for 2+ hours. But I’m working up to that.
When Mr. Quinn asked why I wanted to do this, was I training for a race? I had to admit no, I’m not. I don’t enjoy racing. Not even a little bit. But I do enjoy being alive and not being on long-term medications to keep me that way.
I’ve taken my health for granted for a very long time and the reality is that I shouldn’t. This wasn’t a New Years’ weight loss resolution. This is me wanting to get and stay healthy so I can keep writing and doing all of the other things that I love.
I’ve been at this now for three weeks. I just checked the data and the first real progress has been noted. My resting heart rate has dropped by 7 points on average. That’s huge.
In other notes, I feel better, I’ve been sleeping better (also proven by data), I feel less anxious*.
Gonna do my best to keep at this and see where it goes. I’ve got a great coach and an achievable plan, so I am hopeful. Planning on checking in here once a month or so with updates.
I would love to hear your get healthy stories too! It’s motivating!
*I feel less anxious. A lot of my anxiety was over the numbers I got from the doctor. Driven by guilt from bad choices I’ve made and hating my body. It wasn’t and hasn’t been an anxiety disorder. I am in no way advocating for treating true anxiety disorders with only exercise. Please, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, reach out. There are people that can help.