The New Workout Plan (Mine, not Kanye’s)
I am not 17 anymore, and neither is my metabolism.
I’ve never been a fan of exercising for the sake of exercising, and one of my favorite food groups is Fried Things With Cheese. I also enjoy a beer here and there.
While this is actually quite the intimate topic and this blog is not my personal diary, it is an issue of mid-twentyhood — and I’d venture to guess it’s a popular one at that. So I will share, for the sake of sharing and because I have little shame and because it’s something I’m willing to be honest about. And also because, just like everything else in
my life, it’s comical.
I don’t struggle with weight because I don’t weigh myself, and I certainly don’t look (or listen) when they do it at doctor’s visits. I actually wouldn’t say I struggle either. I just like to feel comfortable, and feeling comfortable has tended to elude my grasp in recent years. Leaving the hustle of college for a job that requires you to sit for eight hours a day is a big change in a lot of ways. For a person who likes to snack (me), it’s a death trap. You get bored, you snack. You get stressed, you snack. You feel tired, you drink sugar-loaded coffee as a snack. You forget to pack a lunch, you accidentally wander into Five Guys. Or you snack. You meet up with friends for happy hour but are hungry for dinner, you snack on cheese fries.
Meanwhile, typing emails and clicking through documents, though you may do it for hours on end, does not burn calories. (I learn these types of facts from reading healthy living blogs). (I read healthy living blogs because I like oatmeal and they come up with new ways to make it taste even better). (Not even a healthy living blog written by someone who runs a marathon every weekend could inspire me to run).
Which brings me to my next point. Exercise. Bleh. Rooted deep within me is a sincere aversion to running for the sake of running or entering a gym just to use a machine for the sake of exercising. That is not to say I’m inactive. I love a good, long hike, a bike ride, a day of walking non-stop around a city, a game of kickball. I’ve even jogged (gasp!) to a basketball court to shoot around. Unfortunately it’s hard to incorporate these forms of exercise into every day, post-6 p.m. life. I suppose that’s why people go to the gym. That’s why I used to go to Zumba class, which was a whole mess of uncoordinated fun but kind of expensive and inconvenient.
Because I hadn’t been willing to exercise daily, over the past year I’ve gradually been more conscientious about what foods I’m eating — not in a counting-calories, cutting-carbs, banning-sweets kind of way at all. It just seemed like the right time to stop eating like a college kid every day. I choose fresh over processed whenever I
can think about it and I try to plan and get excited about cooking meals for dinner so I don’t snack all afternoon. Granted, these meals often come from Pioneer Woman, whose recipes rival Paula Deen’s in butter content. My dinners also tend to feature one of my top five favorite foods — grilled cheese. Carbs and cheese and butter, oh my! Thankfully, by some strange misstep of the universe, leafy green vegetable-packed salads also rank among my top five favorite foods.
This is where I stand. Running is not for me and I love to eat. This equation does not add up to feeling comfortable all the time — that is one math question I would ace on a quiz. What’s a girl to do?!
So begins my commitment to feel great.
Enter my favorite show to watch while eating butter-laden dinners, The Biggest Loser. This may sound crazy, but hear me out. I don’t love the trainers the way some fans do, and I’m not a 400-pound ice cream addict who was inspired by the show to finally leave the couch. But the sheer fact that such large, obese, sick people who are battling self-induced diabetes, high blood pressure and inability to move their limbs, can commit to exercising, is slightly motivating. And hey, motivation is motivation — I’ll take it where I can get it.
When a healthy living blogger I read mentioned using Jillian Michaels’ workout DVDs and enthusiastically endorsed them, I decided it was worth a try. That very day I bought Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and since it came in the mail two weeks ago, I’ve done the work out five days each week. It is the perfect form of exercise for me — there is no precise time that I have to show up to do it (like with a class) and the only thing I needed were weights, which I already owned. It’s only roughly 25 minutes long, including stretching, which is a huge motivator for me. I can do anything for 25 minutes, right? What’s 25 minutes in the grand scheme of your day, Lauren? The 400-pound ice cream addict works out for eight hours a day now, can’t you handle 25 minutes?
It’s been a great addition to my evenings, I’m already feeling better and I started noticing an increase in my arm and ab strength after the first week. The only problem I’ve had has been fitting it into my evenings, which sounds crazy because it’s only 25 minutes, but it’s true. If I didn’t do it right when I got home from work, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. However, after the work out I was never hungry for dinner, so I wouldn’t eat and would instead get hungry around 9 or 10. Also, things come up during the week — happy hours, late work nights (rarely), TV shows I can’t miss, etc.
Because I really want to stick to this plan for at least thirty days, I tried something new today. I woke up extra early to fit it in before work. I knew this would be a struggle for me because I hate waking up to an alarm, especially an early one, and I hate getting out of bed when it’s so cozy in the wintertime. To make me feel at least a little accountable for this goal, I told a co-worker about it yesterday.
Come 5:30 this morning, my self-trickery worked. I got up, did the work out and started my day on a really good note. There are still definite drawbacks to the morning plan, though. I was more out of breath than usual, probably because my lungs weren’t awake yet. My shirt was on backwards the whole time, which I didn’t notice until I headed for the shower, even though the tag was sticking out. Here’s a sweet cell-phone-plus-mirror picture of my failure:
And of course the ultimate drawback is that I have to get up earlier. But the benefits so greatly outweigh the disadvantages. Tonight I’ll have time to cook the Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe I found on Cooking Light the other day, and I’ll be able to paint my nails while watching
The Biggest Loser whatever’s on Bravo.
Last week I also added another trick to keep myself motivated — tunes! Listening to music has made it go by even faster and keeps me from focusing on how many push-ups I have left to do. I used a power hour playlist once, which plays a random one-minute section of a song and keeps me guessing. This morning’s playlist looked like this (don’t judge my taste in early morning tunes):
Now I’ve openly admitted it to all
the thousands of three people who read this blog. This is how I will continue to trick myself into enjoying working out daily. Maybe I’ll get buff and add other workouts to my daily routine. Or maybe I’ll just be a 25-minutes-per-day kind of person. I’m okay with either one, as long as I’m feeling great.
And that is the whole point.