Buying Exercise Equipment Is A Terrible Idea

It’s a New Year, and we’re all ready to get in shape, right?  There are many ways to get moving toward that goal.  One thing I want to recommend that you don’t do is buying exercise equipment.  In short, I think it’s a terrible idea!

Don’t get me wrong.  Getting in shape is a great idea.  It’s a necessary idea if we want to live a long, healthy life to our fullest potential, but I have learned that buying equipment is just a bad idea, and I’m here to give you four reasons why.

It’s Too Expensive (Or Maybe Not Expensive Enough)

One thing I’ve learned is that the cost of buying exercise equipment is unjustified.  One might point out that you can purchase affordable equipment, and while that’s true, when it comes to exercise equipment, the old axiom of “You get what you pay for” is completely true.  If you go out and buy the ‘basic’ treadmill for $400, it’s probably not going to last.  On the other hand, you could go out and get a great treadmill, but it’s probably going to set you back at least $1,500 to get one that’s worthwhile and will be long lasting.  So, either way you look at it, the cost just doesn’t make much sense.mb-2015-01-treadmill

Maintenance: The Dirty Little Secret Nobody (Except Me) Tells You About

Most sexy exercise equipment has some moving parts.  Moving parts break or wear out or need regular work.  This costs money, but they never really tell you about this when you’re in the store or online about to fork over a few hundred bucks.  Only when it breaks the first time (or when you get to page 82 of the instruction manual for the few that actually read the things), might it dawn on you that your shiny piece of equipment is going to cost you a lot more than just the up front charge.  A fitness club can spread out their costs because one service call can address multiple pieces of equipment, but many owners of home equipment will be startled to find that keeping the equipment working can cost just as much or more as it did just to buy the thing.

It Will Get Boring

Most equipment will offer you one thing to do.  While it’s true that many equipment types will let you do different variations, the basic fact is that you’ll be using the same machine over and over again.  Unless you can afford to drop a few grand on a full gym setup, chances are you’ll be bored with your one piece of equipment before the tulips come up.

You Might Fail

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but not everybody keeps their New Years resolutions.  Shocker, right?  In many cases, breaking your resolutions doesn’t cost you much or anything at all. If you find yourself swearing as much as you were last year or still watching too much TV, that’s surely unfortunate, but at least you didn’t drop $1,000 that you’re not going to get back.

I Learned From My Mistakes

Readers, I didn’t write this post based in a vacuum.  I actually have owned three different pieces of equipment at various points.  First I purchased an elliptical machine.  This was great, but I ended up leaving behind when I moved a few years ago.  Why?  I had no interest in trying to take it apart.

I later bought a treadmill, which I used often until it broke down in such a way that it was not repairable.  Thankfully it was under warranty so I got a credit toward a new machine, which I used toward an exercise bike that still sits in my basement today.  There’s nothing really wrong with the bike, at least I assume not because I haven’t used it in over three years.  It simply bores me to tears.

After having gone through all of that, I realized that it’s time to get rid of the bike and to swear off buying equipment for good.  Hopefully my experience and this post keeps you from making the same mistakes.

Readers, what is your experience with owning exercise equipment? Am I the only one that has come to the harsh reality that it’s a complete waste or time, or have you actually found a way to make it work (in a long lasting way)?  Share below!

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Starting A Run Is Harder Than The Finish

Have you ever run?  Did you ever notice that starting a run is harder than finishing.  At least it is for me.  Read on!

Getting Back In The Groove

Recently, I was talking to my wife about something I noticed while running.  I’ve recently ramped up my running after having taken a good portion of the summer off to rest my foot, which was having some soreness.  My wife is an outdoor runner where I prefer to run indoors on a treadmill.  So that someone is home with the kids, we rarely get the opportunity to run together, but we always compare stories and work to encourage each other.

mb-2015-10-trackMy wife and I both run in intervals, where you run for a while, then walk for a while.  I typically run for 3-4 minutes, then walk for 1 minute.  During my 1 minute of walking time, I typically do three things: Take a sip of water, measure my heart rate on the treadmill sensors, and wipe sweat off my face or neck.

I noticed that during my first, and sometimes even second walking interval, I would actually have a hard time taking sips of water, because I’d be very out of breath.  I found that as my run progressed, this actually became easier.

She said that the same thing happens to her.

And, I started thinking about why, and really, the answer is pretty simple:

The beginning has the greatest period of change.

When I thought this, it made sense.  After all, when you start a run, you’re going from a low heart rate to a high one, from moving around slowly to going quickly, from slow breathing to fast.

All that is a rather abrupt change, and your body is probably a little bit shocked.

But, after you get going, well, you’re going.  Your body gets used to it.  After running for awhile, your body automatically regulates your breathing.  This means that it should become easier to get those sips of water, which is exactly what happens!

This is pretty cool

Change In Real Life

It occurred to me that this type of situation doesn’t apply just to exercise, but really anything where there’s a big and sudden change.

Think about some of the other examples:

  • Starting a budget
  • Going ninja on your debt
  • Tackling a big cleanup project at home
  • A new diet

And I’m sure that there are many others!

Push Through When It’s Hardest

With all of the examples above, they’re all things that are big changes, and they’re also things that can easily be given up on.  And, let’s face it, they often are!

But they don’t have to be.

I think that many times, when we give up on things, especially right after we get all excited about starting them, is that we’re coming up against that big level of resistance that we feel right as we get started.  It’s easy to give up, and I think many do because they think that it’s always going to be that tough.

But, often it’s not!

Just as my body adjusts after I run awhile, what happens when you get used to the big change in your life is that you adapt. You integrate the change into your life.  You make adjustments.

And eventually, you realize that you can handle it!

If you realize that the initial push might push you back the hardest, you realize that once you get past it, you can keep on going and it won’t be so hard.

Readers, do you agree that often the hardest part of doing something comes at the beginning, when we’re having to try to adjust to the change?  What are some examples you’ve faced where this has come into play, and what is your advice to persist past that first (and often biggest) hurdle?

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10 Things I’ve Been Up To Lately

It’s mid-September already, and that just blows me away.  It doesn’t seem like but a few weeks ago that summer was just starting.  We had dreams of long days at the beach and warm nights.  Now we’re holding onto every last bit we can.  We’ve even had a couple of fall-like stretches here in Michigan.  Boo!  Here are some things I’ve been up to that are keeping me busy.

  1. Slowly re-entering my running routine – I’d been doing really good with running, but noticed some foot and heel pain in early summer.  I decided to shut my running down. Instead I did some other exercises (and admittedly mostly fell out of my routine altogether).  I’ve been doing some running again.  I’m going much shorter distances, slower paces, and with less frequency.  This will be a test ofwhether I can get back into it or should wait. At the time, I was really excited that I’d been increasing my pace at such a rapid rate, but I was probably overdoing it.  If I find my pain levels following the same paths, I will seek a doctor to try to get it straightened out.  Hopefully taking things slow will allow me to get back into doing this activity that I’ve really taken to.
  2. Continuing the basement cleanup project – In August, I started working on a full overhaul of our basement. I needed to restore order to remove clutter that’d gotten out of control.  This was not just a simple straightening up.  It’s my goal to basically touch everything down there and determine if it’s needed and if it’s in the right spot.  Things have slowed down over the past few weeks with some camping and such.  I’d say I’m about halfway done.  I’m hoping to finish up in October.
  3. Camping, lots of camping – We did a week long camping trip in late August, another weekend trip for Labor Day.  Additionally, we snuck in a quick one day trip for my wife and I to celebrate our anniversary.  We figured out that between all that, we’d been camping for four straight weekends.  No wonder the basement project took a backseat!  The weather was kind of a bust for our week long trip.  Still, we had great weather for our weekend trip.  I guess one out of two is pretty good!
  4. Troubleshooting problems – I wrote recently about how we had the fourth door handle break on our Buick, and how I said ‘no way’ to the dealership costs.  So far, we’ve made progress. I have the part and have taken it to a nearby body shop for painting.  I’m hoping to have that wrapped up this week.  Also, on one of our recent camping trips I figured out why our A/C was dripping into the camper.  Turns out that we had a sizeable puddle on the roof after a big rainstorm.  Instead of condensation flowing out, it was allowing water to seep in.  I quickly tipped the camper up and drained off the roof.  Everything went smooth after that.  Hooray for figuring things out on my own!
  5. Avoiding construction – My wife wanted some stuff printed out on good paper and in color.  She had it mb-2015-09-roadworksent to a nearby Staples.  The only problem is that construction on both streets at the intersection made it virtually impossible to get there quickly.  I hopped on my bike and had it back to the house in 20 minutes.  It probably would have taken that long by car.  Instead, I saved on gas, frustration, and got some exercise!
  6. Getting the kids back to school – Our son is in 1st Grade.  Our daughter is in her second year of pre-school.  Getting them ready and excited to go is always a whirlwind.  My wife takes care of most of the details here, which is great.  However, it does create a lot of excitement and a few extra trips out.
  7. I’m juggling multiple projects at work.  I’ve worked on some big projects at work.  This is cool because I often focus on one big thing at a time.  This is much easier to manage my time and work.  Right now, after the costs of a couple of such programs, the organization is taking a break from anything big, so I’m now wor king on multiple smaller projects.  At the moment, I’m juggling six open projects.  None of them are too crazy.  It’s definitely different than I’m used to.  My biggest challenge is not to leave any behind.
  8. Battling hornets – I found out, the hard way, that hornets had built a huge nest in one of the pine trees.  They bit me twice.  Ouch!  They won that battle, but lost the war later that night.  I haven’t seen any activity around the nest since I sprayed.  Still, I plan to knock it down just to make sure.
  9. Reading – I’ve been reading a lot of good books (My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh, Finders Keepers by Stephen King, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng).  I also got the inevitable stinker (The Deep by Nick Cutter).  I love to read, so the camping trips have for sure kept me bus.  This is a good thing!
  10. Blogging – I’ve been coasting a bit with my writing and interacting with other bloggers over the summer.  I haven’t really been all that satisfied with the content and with networking.   I’m really trying to pick up the slack.  I’m working on trying to provide more engaging information. This will include commenting on other blogs and trying to build up my blog and others through networking.  I’ve been doing this for so long that I know lulls are unavoidable.  I’ve also come to accept that I’m not ever going to be a mega-blogger.  I’m fine with that, but overall, I still love the blogging community.  I  am looking forward to re-engaging a bit more.

Readers, what have you been up to lately?  Anything good and exciting?

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Plantar Fasciitis: Taking An Unwanted Break From Running

Everything has been going great with my running program, so it was bound to happen that something would step in and throw a monkey wrench in things.  Sure enough, I started getting some heel pain and after doing some research, I’ve determined that I likely have a mild bout of plantar fasciitis.  I’m not one to often self-diagnose, but this one is pretty apparent based on the two things that make this an almost certainty:

  1. Pain in my heelmb-2015-06-running
  2. The worst pain occurs in the morning when I step out of bed

I’ve done a lot of research, and long story short, the plantar fascia is kind of like a rubber band that runs along the bottom of your foot.  When one gets affected, small, microscopic tears appear.  This is likely caused by some combination of:

  • Improper stretching of the Achille’s tendon and other surrounding areas – Looking at my routine, I probably skimp and this could definitely be a cause
  • Poor arch support – I seem to remember having to get specialized shoes for arch support as a kid, though neither my dad nor I can remember the specifics
  • Worn out shoes – I recently replaced my shoes, but it’s likely that my old shoes could have been a contributing factor
  • Increase in running intensity and length – I have been increasing the lengths of my run and trying to improve my pace.  The progress has been nice, but it’s possible I went with a little too much steam.

Plantar Fasciitis: Good News & Bad News

The good news is that most cases of plantar fasciitis resolve over time and with treatment that I can do by myself.  Some of the recommended methods to address the condition, which I’ve started include:

  • Icing the affected area 2-3 times per day
  • Stretching out the foot before getting of bed in the morning
  • Stretching out the foot throughout the day
  • Trying to sleep with my foot more bent.  Most people bend their foot out while sleeping, which loosens the plantar fascia.  When you start walking, you tighten it back up and this pulls on all the areas that have been healing overnight.  By keeping the foot bent, you allow healing to take place in the tighter position.
  • Wearing shoes even when in the house.  Typically, I would go barefoot or in socks, but healing requires additional support.

So far the results have been noticeable in that I don’t feel the sharp pain in the morning.  I still do feel some pain which leads to the bad news.

The bad news is that the healing process takes time.  The plantar fascia is more like a tendon, and not a muscle.  Muscles heal quickly by increasing bloodflow to the area, whereas tendons and such have no direct bloodflow, and simply need time.

Short Term Plans

So far, I’ve shut my running down for about two weeks.  As noted above, I have seen results but I know that it’s important to allow things to get fully healed, otherwise I’d just reaggravate it as soon as I started it again.

One other thing that I may do is purchase inserts for my shoes, which would provide additional arch support.

In the meantime, I still plan on exercising, but I just have to do work that doesn’t create impact to the area.  I plan on doing more work on the stationary bikes and will also look at the elliptical, so long as my form is such that I’m not putting too much pressure on the area.

Lucky for me, I caught it before it got really bad, but I knew that I had to address the issue, as I could tell by getting out of bed in the morning that the pain was getting progressively worse, and not better.

Many people say that it can take months to fully heal.  I’m going to take it a few weeks at a time and see how things look.

Long Term Plans

While I’m on ‘running down time’, I’ll have to do more digging to see if I can come up with ways that address the root cause.  There was certainly a reason that I was getting the condition.  Unfortunately, even if I let it heal completely, it will come back without changes.  For now, I’m thinking:

  • Stop skimping on the stretches
  • Run outdoors more.  The hard surface of a treadmill creates a lot more impact than  a dirt trail or track
  • Mix running with other exercises.  I’ve started lifting weights over the past few months.  All of my cardio was running.  This might have to change.
  • Strengthen my foot.  By adding strength to the surrounding areas, it takes pressure off the plantar fascia.  That’s the theory I’ve read, anyway.  I’ve not concentrated on my feet during my weight lifting.   I figured the running was building the muscles, right?  Now I’m thinking that this might have been backward logic.

Readers, anybody out there ever had to deal with plantar fasciitis?  Share your stories in the comments below.

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