Monday, December 14, 2009

What I did right: exercise

Same disclaimer: The list of things I did right aren't necessarily things I advocate. They are things that worked well for my particular personality and lifestyle - so they were right for me. 

I eased into it and didn't feel like torture myself ala "Biggest Loser" contestants.
I think that thinking you need to be near death and wanting to collapse on a treadmill with Jillian Michaels barking at you is the most demotivating idea going. In fact those scenes make the show totally unwatchable for me. I started slowly and ramped up as I got into better shape. That being said a person does need to push herself to be working at a pretty high intensity, and that I did regularly.

I chose non-logistically or financially challenging exercise
This is totally key. I'm a huge proponent of this tenet. I spent perhaps a total of $50 on various exercise DVDs in 1 year (could have spent even less), and bought 2 pairs of sneakers for another $100 total. And I didn't even buy the sneakers until 8 months into things. I had a couple pairs of light dumb bells already and bought one 8 lb set for $15. I won't get into how much I spent on cute exercise clothes....

But there is NO REASON that money should play a part in being able to exercise. Gym memberships and personal trainers are completely unnecessary and in my opinion a waste. I mean if you enjoy a trainer to get you motivated and you have the time and money for long sessions at the gym then go for it, but it's no excuse if you don't have that money or time. The most expensive, sought after trainers in the country make great DVDs that will get you guaranteed results.

Beyond my new-found love for DVDs I also did a good job of finding exercise that I can do quickly and with few barriers to entry. Climbing the stairs in my office took 22 minutes for 770 steps. Jogging 2.5 miles on the trail by my house takes 29 including a 1 min walk to and from the trail. My DVDs take 20-40 depending on how long a program I pick and I can do them without child care. My kids are even old enough that I could run the hill in front of my house with them home alone - I only go 3 houses away and run home up the hill, 10 times, checking on them periodically.

I exercised every day, and kept increasing exercise intensity as it got easier
But the main point is that I changed my attitude. I like the tooth-brushing comparison. I exercise every day - unless there are extremely extenuating circumstances. I used to be much pickier about how I wanted to exercise - worried about what I liked and didn't like. I realized that I needed to find something easy to do (logistically, not intensity-wise) and, to coin a phrase, Just Do It.

The other thing I did was to increase the intensity of the exercise as I noticed it getting easier. This meant adding heavier weights, going up the steps faster, switching from power-walking to jogging/walking intervals and then jogging longer without walking. Interestingly, I noticed as I got to the 150 lb mark that I could really ramp up the exercise. This is also a big marker for WW. At that weight, it is much harder to earn exercise points at low or moderate intensity. I made the change first, and then went back to read the materials out of curiosity that same week and realized that 150 seems to be some sort of magic number.

I mixed up exercise to not get bored
I did stairs during the week and power walks on weekends for the first 30 lbs and then switched to jogging and DVDs for the final 15. I also bought several DVDs and pick out more routines on demand. I am getting bored of exercising in my basement due to a spate of bad weekend weather but today managed to get outside even though it was freezing. But recognizing boredom and switching things up did help me stay motivated to exercise.

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