Journaling and the Gymnasium

One of my grad school classes this semester puts a strong emphasis on journaling. Since writing comes pretty easily to me, that's a plus. I have to keep an eight-week aerobic exercise journal, with a requirement to complete 40 entries during the eight weeks. That equates to essentially five aerobic workouts per week, and while this is aggressive, it comports with my direct goal to exercise more regularly and my indirect goal to lose a few more pounds of abdominal fat weight. That being said, the professor in the class indicated that she expected those of us keeping said journal* to do a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per workout, in accordance with national health guidelines to this effect. My aerobic workouts typically range from 45 to 75 minutes (depending on if I lift weights or swim during my time at the gymnasium). So, I am exceeding expectations on this assignment.

Exercising at the gym has become a more natural and integral part of my lifestyle, particularly during the winter months when I cannot get outside to exercise due to cold weather (which I hate). It is not unlike meditation in several important ways. It's a time dedicated to self-care and can be quite contemplative. When school is in session, I sometimes do assigned readings while pedaling on the stationary exercise bike. However, I often will just stream shows on Netflix and let myself zone out.

Deborah and I have noticed that Friday nights are a good time to go to the gym, because there are very few undesirable people (aka, people) there at that time, especially after 8 PM. We can usually always get a lane in the lap pool then. In January, the gym had a surplus of New Year's Resolutionaries, people who get gym memberships driven by optimistic hopes of healthier lifestyles following the hedonistic holiday season. A very small proportion of these people actually stick with a regular exercise regimen longer than about one month. As a regular attendee of our gym, I have seen firsthand the drop off in gym attendance since the first of the year, and it seems to be almost back to baseline levels now. Nonetheless, the infusion of new membership dollars at our gym after the first of the year has resulted in lots of equipment upgrades, including new and improved stationary exercise bikes.

Another assignment I have for the aforementioned grad school class is a personal project to do something I want to do that I have never done before (or solve a personal problem in my life) for eight weeks. Since I have been toying with going vegan, I am thinking it might be a fun project to research and prepare some vegan meals and dishes. I have wanted to try making some veggie burgers and there is a recipe for vegan key lime pie that intrigues me. However, I am still brainstorming other ideas for a personal project. Another option could be to simply lose 10 pounds in eight weeks, via a combination of regular exercise and a plant-based, whole food, vegan diet. The results of my Fortnight of Fitness challenge, which you may have been following on my health and wellness blog, were promising in this regard. I got my weight down to 211 pounds, consistently, and saw a decrease in blood pressure as well.

*NOTE: The aerobic exercise journal was one of three options offered by the professor in the class. Those not predisposed to exercise could opt to keep a meditation journal instead, with the same general guidelines of five entries per week for eight weeks. Conversely, those not predisposed to journaling of any kind were given the option to write a book review on one of several texts listed in the syllabus materials. With the workload of study I have this semester, albeit slightly less than last semester, keeping a journal seemed like a no-brainer compared with having to read and analyze an entire book. That being said, if one were to spend 30 minutes five times per week reading a book, one could probably pound out an entire book in eight weeks with time remaining to write the analysis. Maybe...

KEYWORDS: healthy lifestyle, best weight loss diet, vegan diet

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