I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hate running. I’ve never been a runner. I failed gym class in middle school. I’m not proud of it, and it had more to do with the fact that I never changed my clothes, which for some reason is how you’re graded in physical education. Doesn’t really make sense, but since I haven’t taken a physical education class in over 12 years, I think it’s time I let it go. Moving on, like I was saying, I hate running. For years my husband has been trying to get me to go for runs and I’ve always refused. I’ve intermittently done zumba classes and pretended like I knew what I was doing on the strength training machines at the gym, but I’ve never truly had an exercise regimen. So when the husband left for OCS I already had plans in my head to dedicate the next 12 weeks to improving my health with diet and exercise. I wanted to finally get rid of the 50 lbs I gained since we got married and then some, not all in 12 weeks – that’s crazy- but as much as I could. I also wanted to be able to run 1.5 miles without stopping. Historically at OCS graduation family members could participate in the candidates final grad run and I wanted to be able to surprise my husband with being able to do it.
So the day after my husband left for what was supposed to be 12 weeks, but ended up being 15 weeks (yay for 3 more weeks of being able to lose weight!), I got my butt out of bed, put on some tennis shoes, and went for a run. Now let’s be forgiving for a second and broadly and loosely widen the definition of the word run. I do more of a hop walk, or a skip walk, maybe it’s considered a jog, I don’t know. I don’t think I fit the traditional sense of the run, but I wasn’t walking… the entire time, so for all intents and purposes my exercise will be defined as a run. Thank you for your leniency. I didn’t stop at just running, I also swam laps, started weight lifting, kept taking various barre classes and my favorite: zumba. I did not do it all in one day. I gradually worked up to the full out exercise regimen, but once I got motivated, it was fairly simple and easy to keep it up. So let’s break it down:
- Baby steps– If you are typically very sedentary with your amount of activity, I do not think it would be logical for you to jump into a crazy exercise regimen. The likelihood of long-term success is not high. So start small and work your way up to where you want to be. Walk for 30 minutes a day to start. Once that’s not a challenge, incorporate some interval training of jogging. This means you’ll jog for a set amount of time and then walk, and then jog again, and then walk. I did this using the c25k app. More on c25k later. I think it deserves it’s own number. Strength training- you don’t need to join a gym to do strength training, I mean, do it if you can and want to, but if not you can do it at home too. And the key to success is gradually increasing your workouts. The best strength training workouts I do at home are squats, push ups and leg lifts. Just those three exercises. I’ll do 10 of each to make a set. Do as many sets as you’re capable of. Can you only do one set? That’s fine to start. Next week do two sets. You’d be surprised at how quickly your stamina and strength will increase. So you’re doing your cardio with walking and your strength training, go ahead and add in swimming if/when you can. I love swimming and I’ve gotten a lot better with practice. When I first started, I would be exhausted after swimming 25 yards. That was only one way in the pool. I was too tired to swim back to complete the lap. But I kept at it, and now I can swim a mile, which is 36 laps in the pool I go to, not too shabby for someone who is obese.
- Workout Apps– I use various apps to keep me motivated and consistent with my exercise:
- Back to c25k, c25k stands for couch to 5k. So the gist is it trains you from literally no exercise to being able to run nonstop for 30 minutes, in theory this would allow you to be able to complete a 5k, unless you’re slow as shit like me and it takes you much longer than that to cover the distance-welcome to the turtle club. I like c25k though because it’s a free app, it’s only 3 times a week, it prompts you when to run, or when to walk, and it really works. I never ran a mile in my life prior to starting c25k and this morning I ran 3.27 miles. Again, we loosely use the term run here.
- I also use the app mapmyrun when going for runs because it tracks my pace and distance which the c25k does not. Could be an area of improvement for them in the future. It’s also super fun to make inappropriate shapes of male genitalia on the map.
- Strength Training: Stronglifts. I use this for weightlifting. I love strong lifts because it’s only 5 exercises: squats, bench press, overhead lift, rows, and deadlifts. Unfortunately, you either need a weight bench or a gym to complete these. I like strong lifts because it keeps track of the weight you lift and gradually increases it so you can improve. You don’t have to start using the bar either. I started my squats at body weight and used dumbbells or the weight plates to gradually work myself up to being able to handle the weight of the bar.
- Fitbit: Yes I’m one of THOSE people. I wear a fitbit. I do not however talk about needing to get my steps in, or brag about how many steps I have for the day. Don’t be that guy, no one likes that guy. But my fitbit does make me aware of how active I’m being for the day, and it’s fun when it buzzes because I’ve hit my step goal, and I’m super pumped about the new one I got for my birthday because it’s water resistant and I can wear it in the pool. There are also challenges you can do with friends through fitbit to keep you motivated. You can set up daily, weekly or weekend contests. Whoever has the most steps for the challenge wins the virtual trophy! I may or may not have spent an evening jumping around and pacing my bedroom to get more steps in than a friend. We’re all competitive on the inside. Just don’t be a dick when you win.
- Workout Buddy: Having someone to check in with, and is also working on their own goals is a stellar way to stay motivated. And if you’re thinking you don’t have any friends who can be your workout buddy you’re wrong. A work out buddy doesn’t have to be someone you physically workout with, or a personal trainer. Let’s chat about the options:
- In Person– So if you’re lucky enough to have someone you can workout with that’s awesome. It’s hard to find flexibility in our different schedules to workout at the same time. But it you do! yay! Knowing you have someone to workout with can make it a little less lonely, a bit more of a social experience, and you’re probably going to be more likely to show up because you know there’s someone waiting for you.
- Virtual– You can also connect with someone virtually, either someone you know personally or even a stranger through social media. There are tons of weightloss groups with people looking for accountability partners. So keep each other motivated through sharing your workouts, checking in with each other to make sure the other worked out and offering support or a swift kick in the ass (virtually) when it’s needed.
- Diversify– A common misconception about weightloss is that you need to do cardio to lose weight. Or if you do any strength training, it’ll cause you to gain weight. These are myths. Yes strength training will cause you to build muscle. Yes muscle weighs more than fat. But muscle also burns more calories than fat, and it burns calories when you are at rest, not only when you are working out. So don’t be afraid to incorporate strength training into your regimen. It’ll help to keep you from getting bored, as many do when strictly doing cardio, which may lead to you giving up. We’re talking about getting and staying motivated after all. If you can add in swimming, I highly recommend doing so. Swimming is an awesome full body, low impact workout that will wear you out and you don’t even realize it.
- Consistency– So getting started is super tough. Once you’ve done it though, it’s very important to stay consistent. This makes staying motivated so much easier. The key to my success is… can you guess?… making a schedule. Schedules are like lists, they make the world go ’round. I kid, but it’s true! For years I’ve tried the route of just saying I want to work out 3 times a week or 5 times a week, without a real plan on making it happen. And you know what happened? I didn’t work out, or if I did it didn’t last for long. To be successful for months at a time I write down the day, time, and what workout I’ll be doing, and that’s how shit gets done. Want a handy schedule you can download to help you get motivated? Alright… you can download mine here. It looks like this:
Getting started is the hardest part. I get it. My alarm goes off in the morning and I badly want to just stay in bed a bit longer. I don’t have any advice on how to get the motivation to get started other than make a plan and stick to it. Get your ass moving. When you feel too tired to exercise, that’s when you really need to do it. I’ve found I always have more energy after a workout than I did before. So what are you waiting for? A one hour workout is only 4% of your day. Don’t have a hour? Make time. Wake up earlier, stay awake later, workout while you watch Netflix. Move that caboose! You’ll be so glad you did even after a short amount of time. Trust me. I did it and you can too!
Update on my current weightloss:
Week 3: I lost 1.4 lbs, bringing the total since Jan.3 to 8.4 lbs lost, and from my heaviest weight ever 45.2 lbs. Last week we went out to eat dinner and I allowed myself two margaritas and macaroni and cheese (my kryptonite). The next day we attended a BBQ and I was able to really keep myself in check by loading up on fruit and a hotdog without the bun. I’m super proud of myself for that! The rest of the week diet wise was on point, and I followed my above workout schedule perfectly! I know I’m building muscle right now, so it’s going to be minor losses to start, but I embrace my membership of the turtle club. Slow and steady wins the race!