My initial draw to rowing machines, and what keeps me interested, is their efficiency. Not only can doing four motions repeatedly instill lasting physical/mental discipline, they’ll also exercise most of your major muscle groups! Unfortunately, they’re not multi-tools. I’m always caught off-guard when an obscure muscle becomes sore. Though rowing is certainly a great cornerstone for anyone’s journey into weight loss, improved health, or casual warm-ups, it’s not the end-all. Which might explain the change…
The hardest mountain to climb is our internal struggle for good health. External factors can usually be resolved, diminished, or bettered. No amount of physical gear or mental training can prepare us for moments or days where summiting that internal hypothetical mountain to health and wellness seems impossible to climb. The trials and tribulations of lazy days and unsuppressable appetites seem too grand. Do we just give up? No! Real life awaits our good health.
Between an oppressive headache, a listless feeling of reward for having overcame something somewhat difficult, and a potent addiction to sugar that’s led me down this path of self-betterment through exercise, I stared longingly at the ice cream concoction that was so irresistible that all I could think about was eating it as I walked around the run-down grocery store. I held it longingly, twice. I didn’t eat it because I hadn’t truly earned it!
WANNA CONSIDER HOW OUR LOWERED THRESHOLDS FOR ACHIEVEMENT VERSUS REWARD MIGHT CAUSE US TO OVERINDULGE? I’VE INCLUDED MY EXAMPLES OF ACHIEVEMENT THAT, FOR SOME, MIGHT BE WORTHY REWARDS. BUT KNOWING MY GOALS, IT IS NOT. CLICK HERE TO KEEP ON READING!
I’ve been in the same 5-pound weight range since January. I was on this same plateau years back at a stressful job. While fear-based goals like “I’m in terrible shape, I should change that” are effective, those goals fade when the fear subsides. Success-based goals, like “increasing fitness functionality,” also subside after vague accomplishment. I need a new goal. Something more concrete… maybe: “I want to become the best version of myself that I can.”
One nicety of regular fitness is that you can easily monitor your health, like a videogame health bar, so you can adjust your routines if you notice any dips. If I don’t feel like doing a rowing or yoga set, then I know something’s up. Tracking my stats, in addition to social accountability, helps me quickly identify problem areas that could be blocking progress toward building up my physical and mental tolerances toward handling stress.
Fitness isn’t universal. What works for me might not work for you. Within 6 months, I should return to my former apex of rowing hour-long sets, which is not something most people would enjoy. Instead of being frustrated over not being able to do that, focus on what you can do with what you have, for your intended results. I see rowing as a tool that can help me do what I want: more universal tasks.
Fitness is difficult for me when I have no functional goals. Health goals work for me when I actively notice looming threats like continual poor health, cardiovascular issues, or diabetic trends. Once those clear up, I lose the motivation. If the goal is something more tangible however, like being able to increase my body’s functionality in order to get more done throughout the day, then I’m all over it! Tools, then, mean nothing without use.
Accomplishing any goal requires internal motivation and external motivation. My internal motivation to burn 60 pounds in 6 months nearly 10 years ago was my desperation to get out of terrible health. My external motivation was a convenient gym membership. Similar desperation rekindled that internal motivation last year. Unfortunately, internal motivation disappears without external motivation. That was initially just this weekly column, then daily social media accountability, now, a natural addition to my home gym. (…And eventual set?)
Compared to last year, a yard work activity took me half the time and drained my energy perhaps half as much, because I still did a 10-minute rowing set. I’m not as far along on my fitness journey as I would prefer, however, I’ve made significant progress toward getting there! Fast progress leads to failure. There’s no sustaining it. Long-term trends typically work because there’s less effort trying to maintain your status quo of success.
There’s a phrase circulating professional sites: “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” Those bosses, and I’ve had two, were weak links in the corporate chain. Without proper inspection, they caused their whole department to fall into disrepair. With a little managerial lubrication, every employee works more efficiently. Similarly, if a rowing machine’s chain (if applicable) is under disrepair, your stats go down. If only bad managers could get a little maintenance like rowing machines.