I’ve gained and lost 30 lbs several times in my adult life. Disappointingly, the only cure has been good nutrition and lots of exercise. I often refuse to face this fact, and experience has shown I can gain weight continuously for 3 years without taking action. I have certain triggers that motivate me to lose weight. I bet everyone has their own “I’ve crossed the line” moments, such as reaching your previous highest pregnancy weight when you are not pregnant!
- When none of my fitted clothes fit and I have to wear all stretchy fabrics
- When I get short of breath climbing stairs or hills
- When my thighs chafe
- And when I realized for the first time that I was getting a roll of fat on my back under my bra band 😦
I know it is possible to ignore these cues and keep gaining weight, but so far those nasties have always pulled me back from the edge.
In an alternate universe, I would be on a softball team that practiced twice a week, or I would farm an acre of vegetables, or another “real” activity would keep me healthy. My life is lacking in real experiences when it comes to exercise, though, so I have to devise fake experiences!
Because I’m not attracted to team sports or group activities of any kind, I have my own method for getting fit again. I wish I hadn’t done it so many times that it’s become a Starting Over Routine! The first thing I do is cut out junk food for a few days. I don’t try to cut calories or eliminate snacks; I just stop eating candy and cookies. After just a day or two, I feel much less sluggish, and I start to believe I could actually do something active!
Next, I start going for walks. So far I’ve always been able to manage a 30 or 40 minute walk. Of course, I can cover a lot more ground when I’m fit, but that’s a gradual process.
Within a week I feel significantly better from both diet and exercise. The times I’ve fared best, I’ve walked every day, rain or shine – but then, I haven’t given myself a kick-start in icy January weather. Note to self: don’t wait until New Year’s Day for this! For general health, this is probably enough. On “normal” days, it feels easy. Eventually the everyday decisions pile up, such as:
- It gets dark too early now to be out on the road
- I have a cold and I don’t want to be blowing my nose 12 times during my walk
- Everyone heckles me if I refuse birthday cake at the office
- I’m tired of eating grapes for a snack so this banana-and-Nutella sandwich will do the trick
I find it works to choose a start-off period with no events planned, because it helps me build endurance (and a feeling of success) before I get busy or have to attend special occasions with all their temptations. This is awfully basic and not at all miraculous. It’s just a matter of slowly growing some good habits. I realize I like them and I feel better doing them than not doing them!
Skip the rest if you’re annoyed by people who work out all the time…
Now in my case, as I mentioned, I have wanted to lose 30 pounds, and that can take a long time. Some people like the social support of dieting or working out with a group. I like solo activities so I can keep my own schedule and sometimes best my own performance. Over the past 10 years, there have only been 4 workout activities, besides walking, that I’ve liked:
- Exercise equipment – I have an elliptical, and I also like exercise bikes, rowing machines and walking on treadmills
- Swimming – I haven’t been swimming for a few years, but I expect I will again
- Skating – I can’t do anything fancy, but I can go forwards and backwards, turn corners, and stop!
- In-line / roller skating – forward motion and barely able to brake, but that’s enough!
At various times I have added these things to my workout routine, until I’ve realized, “Hey, I’m one of those people who works out!”
My current routine would seem boring to others, but it has worked for me for about 18 months without much change. On weekdays, I get up an hour earlier than I would otherwise need to, and I do my little circuit:
- 10 minutes warm-up on mini-trampoline, some jogging and some jumping
- 30-40 minutes on the elliptical machine
- 5 minutes cool-down stretches
- 5 minutes with hand weights
So that is the first hour of my day. I usually do about 4 days a week, and another day, I either go in-line skating (this summer) or out for a long walk.
For anyone who doesn’t work out, it probably sounds regimented and intense. But I find it really helps with my feeling of well-being, and I’m even kinda fit! You know my other motivation, of course, is that I can have an extra muffin or bagel every morning, and not worry about that break-room cake!
As you see, I’ve been at many points on the spectrum from sluggish to buff. I don’t expect I will ever play a sport, cycle, or run. I like what I do now, and by adding in some vacuuming, lawn mowing and snow shovelling, I don’t do too badly!
I’ve even been thinking about upping my fitness level. My new job is in a recreation centre with a swimming pool, 2 ice rinks, a gym and weight room, and a full slate of classes such as aqua fit, spinning, aerobics, core and yoga. I could either buy a membership at the employee rate, or buy individual passes. The centre is only minutes from home and I could just as easily go there as stay home, and have access to a lot more activities.
My plan is to try swimming and skating in different morning, evening and weekend time slots and see which I like. Then, if I find I can get moving and get myself to the centre regularly, I’ll get the membership (if so, before January when it will be swamped with resolution makers!)
I spent many, many years with a child in daycare and I couldn’t bring myself to leave Link at the gym’s childcare for another hour. I turned out to be the kind of parent who really didn’t like playing tag or Frisbee, either! So it is very “freeing” to be able to choose my own activity level and where to go and at what time. Due to my new lack of commute time, I will even have another hour and a half each day to myself!
After all, there are only so many books to read and movies to watch….hahahaha!