Today I went to the YMCA for my fitness evaluation. I underwent various tests – strength, flexibility, blood pressure, heart rate (at rest and after three minutes of exercise), sit-ups and push-ups, among others. They punched all the numbers into a computer that tells me my body age (using the Polar Body Age system). Here’s what I learned:
I’m not as unhealthy as I thought I was. I’ve been concerned/ashamed about my weight for a while, and I was gratified to learn that I’m not a fitness lost cause. But I’m not out of the woods, either. I’ve got work to do. My test showed me that:
- my blood pressure (128/79) is at the high end of acceptable, but is not ideal.
- my cardiovascular system is working pretty well – I achieved a level of "good," a Max VO2 of 50. I’d like to get that number up to about 52 by the end of the summer (the higher the number, the more oxygen I can use during exercise)
- my bicep strength is at the high end of "fair," but my sit-ups and push-ups are at the high end of "poor." I’m a weakling.
- my flexibility is "fair." Even when I was in great shape I was not very flexible. I’m not terribly worried about this one, but I do hope to be able to touch my toes eventually . . .
- body fat: 22.3% (she used calipers to measure the fat on about seven parts of my body). This is "moderate," but they recommend that I get down to about 14-19%.
- I am 6’0" tall and weigh in at 230 pounds. I should be in the 190s or lower, depending on muscle mass, etc.. I’ve got work to do.
- Overall, my "body age" is 32. Whodahthunkit? I’m 32 years old! At least it didn’t calculate my body age in the senior citizen levels . . . .
As a former high school track "star" (oodles of medals, a state championship, etc..) this is terribly pathetic. I know (in my head) that I am not an 18 year-old running the 1600m in the low 4:20s, or the 800m in the mid 1:50s. But emotionally – in terms of my ego – it is hard to separate myself from that memory. I know running, I know fitness, I know exercise. But when I go for a run today, or when I lift a few weights, the experience is completely embarrassing and pathetic. It is hard to return to a familiar task at a much lower level. But rather than try new tasks – swimming, bicycling, aerobics, etc. – I hope to turn my knowledge of running and fitness into an asset as I strive to get into shape. I may never run a five minute mile again – or even a six minute mile – but I hope to return to the point where running up the stairs is comfortable and easy, where jogging for 30 minutes is routine, and where looking at my stomach is not a cause for shame.
I’ll share updates throughout the summer. My goal: to get below 220 lbs and gain a little upper body muscle before the end of the summer . . . Four cardio and three strength workouts per week this summer should help.