Tuesday, March 03, 2015

no pain, regain

I have a lot of make-up work to do in the exercise and weight department. February was a terrible month for walking, mainly because the move to Goyang took up so much of my time. My final walk average for February was an anemic 8,212 steps per day. It's almost bad enough for me to consider seppuku as the only way to restore my honor.

The lack of exercise also resulted in the significant regaining of weight—five kilos, by my scale's reckoning. That's eleven pounds. Now, as I've said before, I'll still fat enough that a gain or loss of ten pounds won't be visible to outsiders (nor has it affected my waistline much: my pants are still loose, despite my having regained weight), but I feel the difference in my energy level and my ability to move around.

So, starting in March, several possibilities suggest themselves as ways to make up for lost time and lost progress. The cheapest solution, financially speaking, would be to wake up at 6AM four days a week and do a four-hour walk, i.e., 24,000 steps, with perhaps 10,000 steps done on weekends, and under 10,000 steps done every Tuesday, which is my new Golden Goose day. (That comes out to about 16,000 steps a day.)

Another solution is to start running. I live in a fairly flat area, now, and this is problematic. My walks aren't giving me nearly the same bang for my buck as walking on Namsan did. Namsan hikes actually meant cardio thanks to the slope. My brother David suggested that I buy a weight vest to add difficulty to my walks, but I worry about the return of knee problems if I do that. Running would also be a risk for my knees, true, but I wouldn't be running long distances—at least, not at first. Running also has the added advantage of being doable within a short time frame, which is important now that my weeks are busy again.

So along with extended morning walks and the prospect of running, another thing I could be doing is cutting back on how much I eat as well as, yes, drastically cutting carb consumption per Mr. Taubes's wisdom. I was actually doing fairly well when I was in my yeogwan and unable to cook. True, I'd buy snacks, but not too much, and I'd always be walking the snacks off. Now, however, I'm able to cook again, and cooking a bunch means eating a bunch. Combine eating a bunch with walking less, and you've got weight gain, mon vieux. So: portion control seems to be in order. The hurdle here, though, is psychological: there's a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction that comes with eating a meal that's half the size of what I'd normally eat. I need to figure a way over that hurdle—something that isn't depressing in the way that so many diets can be ("Eat celery sticks to stave off those hunger pangs!").

Finally, given the inordinate number of gyms in my neighborhood, there's always the option of joining a gym. The problem here would be one of cost: I'm on a budget, and I don't know how much I'd have to spend, per month, to maintain a gym membership—let alone to hire a personal trainer, which was something my friend JW had suggested I do.

Actually... there is one other option.

The Lonely Mountain.

It sits in the distance—near, but far. It's the only local mountain that's close enough to reach on foot. I've already tried, once, to walk up its flank, but I think at least part of the mountain (whose name I still don't know) is covered by a local military base, so finding a hiking trail might be problematic. If, however, I can do some research, perhaps with the help of some of my students, I might be able to find my way up the mountain. It's far enough away to make the simple act of getting to its foot a hike in itself, and the slope of the mountain appears to present a decent challenge to the determined day hiker. If I do a four-hour walk starting at 6 in the morning, I could doubtless reach this mountain by 8AM, as it's definitely less than six miles away (the distance I can walk in two hours); I might even be able to reach the mountain's summit by 8AM.

The Lonely Mountain would be the most wholesome option for me: it'd be a long-distance walk; it'd involve a strenuous hike, thus providing me with a decent workout; and it'd be doable within a four-hour time frame.

Whatever options I go for, something needs to be done to get my ass back on track. I don't like being heavier again. I want the weight to keep coming off.



Surprises Aplenty said...

My university has two weight rooms - a relatively crappy one that is free for staff and students and and a beautiful one that it expensive. The crappy one is not dirty, it is just older. I have been running a lot and intend to use it this spring during Yellow dust days. Do you have a similar option?

Kevin Kim said...

Dongguk's Ilsan campus, where I am now, consists of only four buildings, none of which houses a gym, alas.

I'll check the rates at the gyms in the area. There are at least four or five within walking distance of my studio. Here's hoping at least one of them is fairly cheap.