Getting My Health in Order, Part IV: Exercise

If you’re just joining us, we’re talking about getting my health in shape, which is on my life list. Here’s Part I where I outline the obstacles, and Part II where I advocate for acupuncture, Part III is an ode to my teeth (Also, check out all the tips in the comments of this post on overcoming fear of the dentist. Nice!). Please join us for this installment of My Body Thinks My Joints are a Disease, wherein I outline my aversion to exercise.

Let’s talk about the gym. Yes, let’s. Go get a pint of ice cream and meet me back here.

Now. Say you’re hurting and feeling fat. OK! Let’s put on some shorts and go somewhere public. Great. Are there lots of men here? Perfect. Now do something that makes you sweat. You’re all sweaty? Now stop, lay down on the floor, and contort yourself in ways so lewd you would blush to adopt similar positions while having actual intercourse. Great, great. See how every man in the room is openly gawking at you? Ignore that. Consult your copy of Kama Sutra and assume the next position in your floor mat routine.

So motivational, right? I know!

I Have Not, Historically, Enjoyed Exercise

Until the last six months or so, I’ve never understood people who like the gym. I mean I thought they were maybe a different species, in that I could never mate with one. When my weight, and later my health, made it necessary for me to get off the couch, I just… didn’t want to. It ran counter to my self image.

I did it anyway, but mostly whimpered while exercising and slept afterward. This is perhaps because my body was storing toxins in my muscles that were released when I moved in new ways. Or perhaps because I was weak like a hairless mewling kitten. Aside from acupuncture though, building the muscles around my joints has had the greatest impact on my day to day life. It mostly started with Tracy Andersen.

Exercise DVDs

If you don’t like the gym, but you can manage a bit of self discipline, I recommend exercise DVDs. I’ve come to love Tracy Andersen, despite the rocky start to our relationship:

“The next part of the abdominal series is the piking series,” Tracy Anderson says. What? Oh, it’s on Tracy Anderson. Through this section, I punish you by whimpering in disapproval. “This is the most difficult series for the abs” Tracy Anderson continues. I whack my right hand against a miniature xylophone, and glare at Tracy Anderson through narrowed eyes. Her tiny dancer body still fits entirely within my millimeter of vision. I stub my left toe on an abandoned Tonka truck. My millimeter of vision begins to swim.

Tracy is Gwenyth Paltrow’s trainer (free video clip). The videos are low impact, and really focus on strength:

I had resolved to try it for seven straight days, but by the second day I couldn’t rise from a reclined position. I also couldn’t hold my head upright, and my tongue felt all achy. I stopped after the second workout in self defense, but a strange thing happened, dear reader. As my stomach fibers began to recongeal, I could see a difference! After two workouts! Bryan concurs that I am not hallucinating.

After this year, I can make it through the post-partum DVD and her mat workout. That’s because last year I finally figured out how to convince myself to exercise regularly. Here’s how.

Self Discipline

As I mentioned above, exercise isn’t social for me; I prefer to keen on my hands and knees in the privacy of my own home. Also, getting to and from the gym eats up a lot of time. Unfortunately, the routine of the gym really helps me stick with regular exercise.

I desperately needed some self discipline, so last year I put a chart up on my wall — really it was just a small sheet of grid paper with a square for every day of the year. I decided I would move, at home, for 15 minutes each day and then check a box off when I did. I chose 15 minutes because it seemed like the bare minimum. Not doing it was the same as admitting I wasn’t willing to do anything at all.

The truth is, many days I’m not willing. On those days, I put a dot on the square I skip, and continue filling in boxes after it. Here’s my current chart, complete with typo, and a severe lack of motivation in the last few weeks:

But! I will eventually fill in all those dotted squares, I promise. Here’s the trick.

If I do an hour-long exercise DVD at home, which is what I often do, I get to check off three boxes — that day’s, plus two days I’ve skipped or two days I want to bank. That means, instead of punishing myself for skipping days, I just let myself make them up guilt free, as long as I do a few minutes more work than I’d have done otherwise. If I do an hour of something like walking, which doesn’t really get my heart rate up, I let myself check off two boxes.

Last year I went from sitting on the couch to working out about three times a week.

Results

Well, obviously I have muscles I didn’t have before. The first time I could hold a plank position for more than five seconds, I was completely shocked. That’s been the biggest surprise for me, the sense of accomplishment when I see evidence that I’m getting stronger.

As for the pain, exercise reminds my body that I need it, and so far my body is rising to the challenge. If I don’t exercise, my knees, hips, and shoulders start issuing death threats. If I do exercise, they stop complaining after a few workouts, which is a pretty good deal.

I had non-injury related surgery on my knee when I was 25, and the plan is to avoid doing that again. So I’m choosing to exercise in hopes of maintaining my ability to walk until I’m 100 or so. And if fifteen minutes a day keeps the wheelchair away, that’s some excellent motivation.

Next, we’ll talk about what I’ve been eating. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your tricks for convincing yourself to exercise.

92 thoughts on “Getting My Health in Order, Part IV: Exercise

  1. A few years back a bunch of us started a walking for wellness program at work. It helped motivate all of us to walk at some point during the work day for however much time we could spare. This was especially great during the cold Boston winter when I have trouble motivating myself to be outside. My heart rate doesn’t get up high enough while I walk for it to be a true workout, but I find it is a great in addition to other forms of exercises in my life. A fresh air break during the work day actually helps my productivity.

    Also, several years ago I invested in an Elliptical machine at home. I also don’t like the gym and find it is easier to squeeze a workout in if you don’t have to factor in the time of getting to the gym. I have the Elliptical near my computer and watch 1 hour television shows on Hulu. I’ve come to look forward to my workouts!

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  2. I have always identified as being athletic. I would also like to point out that I am now 283 pounds, so you can see that I am like someone below the poverty line who still votes Republican – I choose to identify with a bracket that I desire to be a part of, regardless of reality. In all fairness, I am skeletal at 180. I am 6+ feet tall with man shoulders, an ex-swimmer, an ex-rower, an ex-dancer.

    Over a year ago, I took advantage of my gym’s childcare and dropped off my infant every weekday so I could indulge in 45+ minutes of cardio and a bit of core work, which left me feeling good, but not significantly thinner. In May 2010, I discovered an intense weightlifting class that produced significant results! I was losing 3+ pounds/week and gaining a ton of muscle, looking great. Sadly, all of my overused joints were rebelling. I had to stop the class after 3 months and take it easy. I took it as a sign to quit, rather than just ease up. I gained back everything and hadn’t broken a serious sweat until last week.

    The best lesson I have learned is to just pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again – this time with a goal of long-term self care and humility. *sigh*

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  3. Not that I recommend my motivator, but I had my heart replaced four years ago. I am now in my late 30s and thanks to a stint early on in cardiac rehab with an excellent rehab-person (who is now a dear friend) for the first time in my life, I actually like to exercise. But despite all that, I have been in at least a six month slump. I have a lot of pain (both surgery and non-related) that exercise makes better so why is exercise so hard? I make it to the gym maybe once a week. This year, I’ve challenged myself to do three 5Ks. I’ve done one…walking. I read blogs (like this one) that motivate me. I find a little self-competition goes a long way. Also, I concur that Zumba is the way to go. Best exercise class ever.

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  4. Love this series! I would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend dailyburn.com. It does for free what many sites charge you for. You search for what you ate, and just click how many servings you had, same with exercise routines. It does the math, and calculate how many pounds per month you will lose if you keep it up.
    I’m motivated by statistics, pounds lost, calories burned, and body fat percentages. I just keep trying to do myself one better than last time.
    Also, the specter of the bikini looms over me year-round. So that’s a motivator.
    Way to go to everyone who is out there getting stronger!

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  5. I run (truthfully … plod) because it’s 1) easy, relatively speaking, and 2) cheap.

    1) I put on my plodding clothes and head out the front door and put one foot in front of the other as fast as I can for an hour. I’m fortunate that my route takes me down to the Marina and out to Crissy Field with a view of the bay and GG Bridge most of the way. There are usually plenty of goofy dogs along the way to take my mind off of the pain.

    2) No gym fees, no expensive equipment, no gas to and from anywhere … all I need are shoes, socks, shorts, tank and sports bra. The most expensive article of clothing are my shoes. They are ancient but every since I read that humans are built to run barefoot, I haven’t bought a new pair. All the literature about cushioning, motion control, et cetera, is apparently bunk. I may invest in a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers.

    I try to get out there every other day but am happy if it’s 3x a week. Getting started (the effort to get off my ass and put the gear on) is the worst part. Once I’m dressed, I’m commited. Oftentimes it doesn’t feel that great while I’m doing it … BUT, almost nothing compares to how I feel after I’ve finished. I do it for physical fitness and, more importantly, mental fitness. It allows me to feel a little bit better about myself, which is no small feat.

    Great series, by the way.

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  6. I save cheesy TV shows to watch while walking on the treadmill. They seem less cheesy while I’m working out, probably because my focus is somewhat diverted. My faves are Glee, Bones, Castle & Leverage.

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  7. I went for a walk on Jan 1st. Then on Jan 2nd I decided to go again. On the 3rd I thought, well I may as well shoot for the whole year at this point.

    A lot of people are talking about how they aren’t resolution maker, but making resolutions this year anyway. I’m one of them. So far, I’ve walked everyday this year.

    My motivation is to be able to keep saying that. I want to win.

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  8. My best motivators:

    The phrase “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”

    Watching Biggest Loser. I have a deal with myself because it makes me feel pathetic to lounge on the couch while watching people get into the best shape of their lives, so I am only allowed to watch if I do one set of some exercise during every commercial set.

    Doing yoga.

    Reading blogs like Roni’s Weigh and Better Now. They’re not about losing pounds but about doing things to keep active and feel strong.

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  9. Adding more deliberate exercise to my life is one of my few goals for this year. Gym and sports clubs are out because of the cost and the travel time.
    I am loving your idea of the chart and the 15 minute slots. That is going to serve as inspiration for me.
    For now my deliberate movement is going to be swimming (weather permitting, I live in the southern hemisphere and summer is our rainy season)or table tennis on my PS3 move. These are the things I have to work with so I will make the most of them.
    I am also on the lookout for a reasonably priced treadmill because walking is the one form of exercise I like but walking around my neighbourhood is not always a safe option.
    Your post has perfect timing for me. Thank you, much appreciated.

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  10. Going to the gym at 6 in the morning.

    No, really. I hate it and it’s no fun, but I hate it more and have an even worse time when there are people around to see all that jiggling and sweating.

    I’ve been at it a few weeks now, and while rolling out of bed early sucks for the first few minutes, the energy I have for the rest of the day is amazing. I don’t feel like ordering take out and going to bed as soon as I get home any more, which helps balance out the initial gym cost. It also doesn’t hurt that I live less than 2 blocks from my alma mater’s gym.

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  11. I use the 5 minutes rule. If I don’t f-e-e-e-l like it, I tell myself, “5 minutes, just do it for 5 minutes, c’mon, you can do 5 minutes” and that 5 minutes ALWAYS turns into more.

    Oh Maggie – you should try Zumba – it is totally fun. I had never thought of exercising as fun before. It’s also like tai chi, in that you spend the whole time just thinking about where you’re putting your body parts, it makes everything else go away. I’m usually a clock watcher (especially during -blech- exercise) but I can honestly say I didn’t have time during Zumba class.

    Another reason I liked Zumba class was because I treated it like an appointment. I have amazing Powers of Ignoring that expensive treadmill in the corner, but if I have a scheduled time, I won’t miss it.

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  12. Seriously I love what you suggested. I currently am going for my masters, working full time, and teaching 2 classes. There never feels like even enough time to sleep or eat. However 15 mins seems dooable.I love your part about “Not doing it was the same as admitting I wasn’t willing to do anything at all.” I need to get moving but can find endless reasons why I should be writing a paper or sleeping instead. The idea of banking days or checking off past days I didn’t do anything is just so perfect for me. Maggie if you ever make a workout dvd I am sold. I think your methods would work for me. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing your story.

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  13. I don’t like to excercise, but it makes me feel better. If I think, “I should excercise; I need to lose weight”, I won’t do it. If I think, “I should excercise; it makes my heart feel good”, I’m out the door. Or, “I want to sleep well tonight”. If I skip a few days because I feel tired, my husband will remind me that I won’t really sleep well again until I exercise.

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  14. Hey Becky,

    Don’t know if you’re reading this far down in comments, but I hope you check back in. What you said about needing to be “the best exerciser that ever exercised” makes of Brene Brown’s TED talks on perfectionism and vulnerability:

    I’ve watched them several times recently, and I think you might like them too.

    Whether you decide to move your bum or not, your comment touched me. I’m rooting for you.

    Best,
    Maggie

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  15. I buy myself nice clothes to exercise in, so I feel good about myself while I’m doing it. And I try to focuse more on how it feels getting home afterwards, how happy I am about having done it – and I always try to avoid thinking “I can always skip it and do it tomorrow”. If I think about going to the gym as something as important as getting to work, I just do it, because I have to. And I always always always feel very proud about exercising, and choose to think all these thoughts like “now I really took care of my body”, “everyone else would surely stay at home when feeling this tired, but I’m better, I will exercise anyway” and “if I go now, I don’t have to stay long, just do the regular exercises”. Usually I stay longer, since it’s fun when I’m finally there.

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  16. Maggie — I so relate to your attitude about excercise. In the last 18 months I seem to have finally come to a place where I actually don’t HATE it any more. Here’s my deal. I go to a gym and do the elliptical trainer. I try to get my heart rate to range between high 120s and low 150s — any higher I’ve read is useless in terms of burning calories etc. My psychological “game” with myself is this. I’m not ALLOWED to go two days in a row. If I do, my mind might see this as a new “minimum required” and so anything less and I’ll just say”what’s the point?” I too set a minimum — I only have to do 20 minutes and burn 200 calories (according to the machine) and anything else is GRAVY! And finally, I try VERY hard to make it every other day, because if I let too much time go between workouts, my twisted head immediately forgets that excercising really isn’t that bad and imagines that it’s HORRIBLE and that I dread and loathe it and never want to go back. My mind is really messed up ….. Elizabeth

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  17. Every year I have the same resolutions about weight loss and exercise, and every year I fail. I have been packing on pounds since college and have nothing to blame it on except laziness and over eating. I figure I have at least an average sized person worth of weight to lose.

    I have always said I hate exercise, and who wouldn’t in my current condition. But I have had brief periods of weight loss and regular exercise over the last 10 years that, if I am honest with myself, I loved every minute of. My problem is getting up and going and pushing through the first 5 minutes.

    On an episode of Thintervention with Jackie Warner, she said something about rewiring your brain to associate the pain (or discomfort) you feel when exercising as pleasure. It is pleasure because you are using your body the way it was meant to be used. Ever so slowly over the next few weeks a light bulb started to burn brighter and brighter as I thought about how I used my body everyday and how it was meant to be used. I started drinking more water and less pop, thinking about what I was eating as fuel for my body and looking for ways to find better choices in all my meals(I was more picky about the gas I put in my car then the fuel I used in my own body).

    I remember complaining to a friend one day about how hard it was to get of my a** and go workout, like I was the exception or something. She just looked at me and said that it is hard for everyone. It is so encouraging to hear that even my friend with rock hard abs and a killer caboose has the same thoughts as me, she just made different choices. So now I make different choices and it always feels better afterwards.

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  18. I hate exercising. I was never sporty. I don’t run unless chased. I used to enjoy going to yoga classes, but since I’ve moved, I haven’t found one I particularly like. I especially hate going the gym. It feels…unnatural. When my gym closed a few months ago, I cried with relief. I went with my husband, who actually enjoys exercising, and I found that comparing myself to him led to further misery. Thoughts like, “Well, if he’s doing this much, I should at least do the same,” etc. etc. However, he’s the sort to be energized by a good workout, whereas I would be spent for the entire evening following my weedy efforts. I recognize, however, that I need to get moving. I, too, Maggie, have gone the route of coming up with my bare minimum. My plan came in the form of a ridiculous Israeli who exercises on a beach, frequently with a parrot.

    Yes, Gilad.

    Our cable system carries FitTV, and Bodies in Motion is on every day. I TiVo it, and do it at least four times a week in our living room while my dog looks at me like I’m embarrassing her in front of her friends. I doubt it will lead to any significant weight loss, but that’s not my main concern just yet. I need to feel like I’m being active for just a tiny portion of my day.

    This particular show is a good length for me, and it doesn’t require any equipment. I’ve tried a couple of other FitTV shows to mix it up (a couple of the All-Star Workouts come to mind), but Gilad is the backbone of my movin’ around plan. When I’m finished, I feel like I’ve done something, but I’m not so worn out that I can’t make dinner, hang out with the hubs, or repair my relationship with the dog.

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  19. This idea is fabulous! I’m in the midst of a 90 day challenge, and my goal for these 90 days is to move more, because I hate exercise too. But I got side railed right before Christmas from a lower back injury. Now I know how to make up for those missed days, or days when I just don’t feel like doing anything. If I do more than what I’ve challenged myself, I think I need to give myself multiday credits too. I’ve been doing an excel spreadsheet this way I can see if/when I improve. And I think I’ve also got my new reward. If I complete this, I get a new pair of exercise sneakers (and I get to use my HMO’s new $25 credit for exercise sneakers!). I call this a self rewarding goal for what I’m already working on!

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  20. I think you’ve really hit upon something here, Maggie, and that is the importance of finding exercise that works for you, not against you. Not only will everyone in the world not like the same sort of exercise, but not everyone in the world has a body that will respond in the same way. I’m a super busty, super petite lady, and I always thought that meant I would never be able to handle any sort of cardio (believe me when I say I’ve tried out every sort of sports bra imaginable, and NONE of them come even close to reigning in my disproportionately large chest), but then I discovered the gentle track of the elliptical machine. No running, no jumping around in a class, and no cardio dance moves for me. Just free weights, elliptical, and yoga. Good exercise with no terrible lingering back and chest pain from all the, um, bouncing.

    I love reading this series of yours. It’s really wonderful.

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  21. I have been trying and trying to get my health shit together for months. It finally took a pregnancy scare and realizing what that number on the scale meant for me to actually do it. I want to be healthy before I have a kid. Start it off right!
    Next time I weigh this much, I want to be pregnant with twins.
    So I started small by tracking my food on Livestrong’s Daily Plate, which is awesome by the way.
    Something that is keeping me motivated is the plan to wear a bikini this summer. At different weights on the way to my goal, I have prizes for myself like a new clothes spree or those Frye boots I’ve been wanting.
    I realized it has to be a fun thing, too, otherwise you will dread it. So I’m going to buy some cute yoga clothes and I got a fancy mat.
    Here’s to us!

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  22. I tried those Tracy Anderson DVDs (based on your recommendation and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ass), but couldn’t stick with them because of Tracy’s awfully gender-sterotyped notions of what women should look like. She’s so dogmatic about women needing to be “tiny” and not look too big or too strong. I’m sure they could help me be in better shape if I could tolerate this, but those statements were so negative to me that it wasn’t enjoyable to watch the DVDs.

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  23. I do CrossFit too, and my motivation is the $140 monthly membership fee. 😛 Also, the appeal of having washboard abs and some killer guns. 🙂

    In all honesty, nothing makes me feel better than working up a good sweat and making my muscles sore. I also like to think that people who exercise will (theoretically) live longer lives, and it’s going to take a while to get thru my Life List. 🙂

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  24. I asked for a package of sessions with a trainer for Christmas a couple of years ago, someone showing up at your doorstep at 7am is a huge motivator. When it was too cost prohibitive to continue I bought the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and do that as often as I can. 20 minute workouts, I can do that…sometimes I can’t…but saying you’re too busy for a 20 minute workout is pure avoidance.

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  25. I never considered myself athletic. Hated team sports. Awkward and gangly growing up. I ran a mile for the first time ever when I was 26 and have since fallen in love… people who know me now see an athlete. (It’s still so weird to me.) But my life changed drastically when I started feeling fit (confidence, relationships, career, finances).

    I totally relate to that surprising sense of accomplishment when I feel myself getting stronger. It’s been just over 10 years and I’ve decided focus my new business on helping others feel the same—especially outside. There’s just something about nature that makes working out feel more like playing. And playing outside is always a good thing. 🙂

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  26. I have to exercise in the morning before I shower, or I just won’t. So, sometimes I wind up at the gym and *then* I wake up and I’m like “how did I get here?” But whatevs, it gets me to the gym

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  27. I’m 21 and in the past year have severely decreased my workout regimen. Within that year I’ve noticed that I have chronic hip pain. You getting your health together let’s me see that I need to be aware of my body now and forever, really. Here’s to exercising and stretching out those joints. Thanks for being an inspiration!

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  28. I HATE exercising. I don’t get the endorphin high others do; it’s just a miserable experience for me. I don’t like being sweaty, I don’t like to hurt, I don’t like to have to take a shower and get re-dressed in the middle of the day, I don’t like… exercising. Gyms are out for me. I’ve joined a couple before and don’t ever go after a week or so of blazing ambition.

    If I could afford a personal trainer, I might try that but that’s way out of reach ($). The ones I see on TV wouldn’t work for me anyway, since I’ve never responded positively to being yelled at and belittled and goaded, nor to false sunny cheerleader yay-you stuff.

    When I was a kid, my mom used to try to get me to be more active, but whenever she’d make me “go outside and play”, I’d go outside with a book and sit under a tree and read.

    Ironically I was on a basketball team in high school and no one was more surprised than I was (well, maybe Mom) when I was good at it and became starting center. That was also, however, how we learned my knees were bad. I’ve had all the surgeries now they can do except replacement which I’m hoping to put off.

    Because of those bad knees, any kind of impact exercise, even walking, is very painful. So I found myself a recumbent bike on Craigslist and even used it for 30-minute rides while watching TV. That lasted till I started having shooting pains down my lower back after each ride.

    Best laid plans, and all that. There’s got to be something out there that will work for me because I sure could use it.

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  29. I am motivated by my cheapness.

    I don’t love exercise. I’m not particularly coordinated or good at anything – solo or team sports. I see results much, MUCH more slowly than other people. I guess that means I need it more.

    So I found a bootcamp that I like because personal training is too expensive, and I pay for 3 months at a time. It isn’t cheap. But compared to going to the gym on my own, it is tremendously helpful. So I go, because I’ve paid. And my cheapness wins over laziness almost every time.

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  30. I remember hearing about Tracy Anderson for the first time on your blog. You and Gwyneth convinced me to try her DVDs and I love them (now). What motivates me about her work is that it changes in my body so quickly. I am trying her cardio dvd, though, and she is seriously like a cheerleader on speed in that one. I am trying to keep up but mostly end up doing my own version of club dancing around the living room.

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  31. Thank you, Maggie! I like the coloring-grid plan, for a simple visible way to find a little motivation and see progress. I appreciate hearing suggestions in comments (naturally, I’ve made a list of some to try, especially the yoga through Netflix Instant).

    I also wanted to share a simple new method that’s been helpful for me the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s old news, but I had never seen a kettleball weight until I received it as a gift. It came with a dvd that has three, 15-min workouts, and I like just putting it in without having to make any choices – Even how many reps or which order to do exercises slows me down enough for some of the self-criticisms to kick in and derail me.

    I’ve found that once I start a 10-15 programmed workout with Ms. Gin Miller with a mix of music playing on the side, I can keep going. Since then I’ve played around with doing more or less, but I am glad to have something silly to start with.

    Huzzah for moving on gloomy days!

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  32. Good for you. It sounds like we have very similar philosophies about exercise. 🙂

    What worked for me was keeping it low-key. I started walking for 20 minutes every day, and promised myself I’d do it for 21 days in a row–I figured if I could do it for that long, it would become habit. It didn’t have to be power walking–I just had to move for 20 minutes a day somehow, even if that meant cleaning the house or walking around the mall. Doing a little every day (as opposed to doing a lot 3-5 days a week) has kept me going for several months.

    Now that I’m in the routine, I allow for variation or leniency… I’ve had morning sickness for the last few days, so if I feel sick I might only do 10 minutes of light activity, and that’s OK. But in general I need to do something every day to stay in the habit. What I notice is that I don’t dread the daily exercise like I used to when I had a similar routine back in college. I usually enjoy my “exercise break” and look forward to it!

    Also, as silly as it seems, video games. We bought a Wii and I play either Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution every night. This became particularly important once it got too cold to walk outside for long stretches. The games give me short-term goals to strive for (I’m impatient) and I like seeing my progress over time.

    I look a bit foolish jumping around in front of my TV, but hey, I don’t care! I’ve lost weight and I feel healthier, with a relatively minor change to my lifestyle.

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  33. When we started graduate school, I gained 25 lbs. I lost about 20 of that by killing myself at the gym. But after the initial 20 went away, all the loss stopped. OK, maybe I’m meant to be this weight. Then I learned the most simple of simples. Do less. I went to the gym every day, took an hour step class or ran on an eliptical. Go! Go! Go! I would stress out about the possibility of missing my time at the gym or being late to a class.

    When I did my yoga teacher training, all of that stopped. I learned that I needed to do less and to keep my heart rate in my target weight loss zone for just 30 min every day. Turns out, this was much easier to do. I just walk for thirty minutes every day. I lost the remaining 15 lbs. And I don’t stress the small stuff.

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  34. Alright everyone, I just worked out for 40 min straight for the first time, possibly ever, and loved it. Know why? Because of everyone here that said, ‘nope I don’t like it, but I do it’, etc, etc. Thinking that I didn’t like exercise was a great excuse for me. I’d whine and cajole, whatever. I thought I was special because I didn’t like to do it, like because I favored other things (reading, cooking) that I had carte blanche not to exercise. Seeing that I’m not special in my dislike for sweat, exercise, reshowering, gyms, etc, was really huge. Realizing that I could do it even though I hated it (um, I hate paying taxes and I sure do that!) was so eye opening to me. Thanks for all of these comments, I’ll be bookmarking them and reading them for the next time that I think I’m special and therefore don’t need to work out!

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  35. I hate exercise because it makes my depression worse.

    I’m not sure why; I think it is an adverse endorphin thing – I’ve never been so angry or upset with myself, the aerobics instructor (spawn of Satan, in that moment) or the other people on the track with me (if you pass me, why shouldn’t I trip you?) Needless to say, I’m appalled at these thoughts and impulses – and have bashed my hand into a brick wall, or other things while exercising to keep them at bay. So, I’ve tried karate (great for the emotional stuff, horrible on my ankles) and the only thing that seems to work is massive distraction. So I watch Netflix streaming videos on the treadmill. Sometimes. And avoid aerobics classes.

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  36. I check out different exercise and ayuverda DVDs from the library! Then I can’t get bored! I also check out cookbooks and books about nutrition and stretching. Skimming through these books give me good ideas without having to make a commitment.

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  37. I had to come back to this post and say thank you! The day you posted this I made the chart and even though it hasn’t even been a week, I love it and know I will stick to it. It’s great because it not only reminds you every day, but then gives you a little reward not to mention gives you a change to invest later for days when you fell short. I’m a college student in pretty poor health and I have free access to an amazing state-of-the-art recreation center that I have not taken enough advantage of. I’ve been on and off of fitness routines, it just takes one great idea to make it stick! So thank you! 🙂

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  38. Chiming in really late here…

    My trick is that I sign up for races. I’m so cheap that I refuse to sign up for a race and not do it. I haven’t gone longer than 4 days without running since September 2009 and I haven’t looked back! I’ve lost 15 pounds and am in far better shape than I was in high school. Now I’m running 3 times a week and spinning 2 mornings a week. It’s not a chore, anymore, which is surprising. As a kid/teen I HATED exercise. Give me a pint of ice cream and a smutty novel and leave me be! That was pretty much my mantra.

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