Thursday, March 27, 2008

Exercise

Yes, I said the dreaded "E" word. I know you don't want to hear it, but your body is designed to be moving. We have lots and lots of muscles and a great cardiovascular system that enables us to move all day long. Do you think the cavemen sat around in their caves all day relaxing, taking baths and naps, and reading Newsweek? I don't think so. They were probably up at the crack of dawn, roaming the neighborhood to find food. I bet they did a great deal of moving around. And as a result, there were not a lot of obese cavemen.

Fast forward to modern man, with all his conveniences. We don't have to hunt and forage for food anymore. Heck, we don't even have to GROW our own food anymore. And technically we don't even have to leave our sofas for food anymore. We can order groceries or pizza online and have them delivered to our door! Chopping and cooking? Nah, just microwave a frozen meal. Wash your clothes by hand in a washtub and hang them on a line to dry? Nah, just use a washing machine and dryer. We drive cars or ride buses instead of walking. We sit at desk jobs while our muscles atrophy. We don't expend much energy, and rarely if ever break a sweat. Our hearts get fatty and our bodies get lazy and smooshy. We feel sluggish because we ARE sluggish. Time to change all that!

If you think you are too heavy or out of shape to exercise, you're probably wrong. (Ask your doctor to be sure). But do you know how I started out? With a walk out the door and literally 25 feet down the sidewalk and back. That's all I could do. You have to start somewhere. And like I said earlier this week, I started out with a few minutes on my exercise bike and worked up to 20 minutes over several months. You can do it and you WILL feel better because your body is meant to move.

I have never been an exercise fan, either. I never played any sports or did anything strenuous unless I had to. But I realise if I want to be healthy and lose this weight, I have to get moving. Research has shown that those people who lose weight and KEEP it off are the ones who exercise regularly. So I committed to an exercise program. I usually do not FEEL like exercising, but I do it anyway, and then I feel great afterwards.

Right now my exercise is to ride my exercise bike 20 minutes, 3-4x a week. But this week I added in some strength training, too. There are so many benefits to strength training. It helps build muscle, which burns more calories, and it is energizing and makes your body strong. Maybe you think you could never do it, but you can. Give it a try. All you need is a set of $5 dumbbells from Wal-mart to get started. I found all my exercises, along with video demonstrations, on sparkpeople.com.

My routine is simple:
Dumbbell biceps curls
Dumbbell shrugs
Dumbbell triceps extensions
Shoulder combo raise
Standing spinal twist
Standing side bends with towel
Crunches
Lying Abduction (side leg raises)
Calf raises

That's it! I do 2 sets of 12 reps each. I use 5lb dumbbells. I also do a few basic stretches and a couple of knee-specific physical therapy exercises (floor quad presses, hamstring and quad stretches, and a balance exercise). I do this whole thing in my bedroom in the evenings, 3 times a week. It takes 15-20 minutes total. And I feel really good when I am done.

Hey, I am far from a gym bunny and I never want to be one. I don't care much about weight lifting or working out or any of that stuff, but I DO care about my body and my health, which is why I am investing in myself this way. I know it will pay off and make me stronger.

So how about it? Want to try a few weeks of strength training and see how you feel?

12 comments:

Dottie said...

Exercise is a dreaded word for me. But I know too that I'll need to do it. I got an email recently about a presidential challenge. Remember those physical fitness tests back in middle school and high school. Well...now there's challenges for adults too. So I could essentially earn a presidential fitness award as a 36 year old adult by committing to and following through with doing 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. http://presidentialchallenge.org. I think I'll check out the sparkpeople site. I've read about that on a few different blogs now. Thanks for the post...great one! And excellent job on getting it moving!

Dottie said...

Oops...I typed the wrong URL in my last comment. It should be Presidents Challenge

Christine said...

Ahhhh - that dreaded E word - its a swear word for me lately. But I am excited to get back on track on April 1st. I plan to move around the living room a bit so that I can even use my Biggest Loser Workout DVD. I am just ready to get going. Maybe its the spring air - I don't know. ;)) Good for you on the weight training - thats really smart. I might go look into some weights tonight. 3's and 5's maybe. :)) Take care.

Heather said...

I think you are doing so great! some people have an easier time with exercise than food and I seem to have the opposite problem. its hard to get it in, but you are right, there are always ways. I know you will succeed because you can find this time.

angelina said...

Oh 3 years and a half ago I used to be overweight. I studied medicine so my life was studying, eating & sleeping, like a circle. One day my mom told me she could not bear wathing me like that anymore so she took me to a gym near our house; the first day was dreadful for me!! and the first months =S, I didn't want to go.. all the people there skinny and trained, I felt ridiculous =(.. but I kept going with the hope that someday I could be like them *sniff*, and the rest is history ='), nowaydays I teach (a class called body attack) and try to inspire other people what exercise did for me =D It's worthy trying!

(oops i wrote the comment twice >_<)

Shannon said...

Great post! I would also encourage people who don't want to become gym rats to look for less "normal" forms of exercise. I play volleyball 3x per week. It's open to all adults and costs a total of $4 per week (for the gym rental). I also just bought roller blades... what a blast! I'm not that good yet, but it works some muscles in your legs that even running (which I love) and biking (which I less-than-love) don't.

Sunny said...

I know, I know, I know - - thanks for the kick in the pants. Maybe I'll try and squeeze a walk in tomorrow ;)

Hanlie said...

It's so true! Exercise is essential to good health, regardless of age, weight, physical condition etc. Our bodies do not function properly without it. But it's hard to get into when you're not used to it. Fortunately after a while it becomes a habit! And one day you realize that you revel in your body's strength and ability. There's no bigger feeling of accomplishment than that!

CM said...

If you're going to lose the weight and keep it off, exercise, no matter how bad is sucks sometimes, is non-negotiable. It's not easy in the beginning, but it gets better, and you start wanting to challenge yourself. When I first started going to the gym, I got on the elliptical trainer. At a Level 1, I was exhausted before 5 minutes. Now I routinely do 45 minutes. At a Level 19.

And Shannon is totally right. You don't just have to do the typical gym stuff. I also play racquetball with a friend a couple of times a week and work with my toddler in his soccer classes.

Ceres said...

Dear Lyn,
I started reading your blog and I got hooked; I took time away from doing work (work=doctoral dissertation, so I'm more flexible than most working people) in order to read every single post that you've written since you started your weight-loss marathon. I admire you so much, that I can't quite put it into words! You've come such a long way already, and I firmly believe you will make it until the end, because your relationship with food is truly changing. You're not just losing pounds, you're re-discovering yourself along the way.

I have struggled with many extra pounds all my life. I am a smart, independent young woman, and losing weight is absolutely the most difficult thing I've ever tried to do! What you have written about your previously sick relationship with food sounded awfully familiar.

I think that the only thing that has kept me from becoming "morbidly obese" is that I never stopped moving and exercising. I always walk for daily errands or just for fun, and for the past 5 years I have been working out in various forms: swimming, dancing, gym training, cardio class... I've learned to like it, and I love the way I feel after a good workout. I really hope that with time you will get stronger, solve your knee problems (with a successful operation?), and be able to exercise more.

I'm now also counting calories and I've lost some weight. The scale only shows a 5-pound difference, but I think I've gained some muscle, because I have increased my exercise by quite a bit, and my clothes are more loose than a mere 5-pound loss would suggest. It's so rewarding to watch your body change, to fit in smaller clothes, to shop for smaller sizes! But weight loss is a very slow process if you want to get it right, and it can get really frustrating. Like you, I have learned to ignore the scale when it's stuck even though I know I've been eating right. Especially when I increase the amount of exercise, the scale might show that I'm heavier, but if it's muscle gain, then that's a great thing!

My weight loss seems to follow a cycle that is very similar to yours, and related to my "other" cycle. It was interesting to read that other people experience the same pattern. Another thing that I have noticed is that right before dropping a pound (or more), the scale might show that I've gained, and I'm wondering if my body retains water right before shedding the weight. It doesn't really matter, of course, as long as we keep on getting into smaller-sized clothes!

Thank you so much for your great blog, you are a real inspiration for me, and wish you all the best in your fight against obesity!

Ms Ingrid said...

I don't care much about exercise either. I have been regularly jogging 3 times a week for 6 months and there are days when I still hate it.

Steve said...

Hi,

Diet and exercise is all well and good but as weight loss is often an emotional issue for many people, has anyone here tried out cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)? A friend of a friend tried it and swears by it apparantly.

I'm just thinking that if weight loss is largely an emotional issue perhaps we need to work on our thoughts first/too.