Thursday, January 26, 2012

push yourself.

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A couple winters ago, I found myself wallowing in the worst season of the year: Still-winter-and-not-even-close-to-summer. Especially in Michigan, this time of the year blows for those of us who thrive on sunshine and warmth. My sister-wife, Kristen, suggested I sign up with her for an exercise class through our local recreation center. I hesitated for a few reasons:
  1. I don't like to exercise.
  2. I don't like to pay money to exercise.
  3. I don't like to pay money to exercise with a group of people.
  4. I don't like to pay money to exercise with a group of people...at 8:00 on Saturday mornings.

But Kristen is realllly good at manipulating sweetly convincing me to submit (heh). She was the motivation I needed to get moving. The thing is, I just don't typically feel pressured to keep up with any sort of regular exercise routine. Whether I'm exercising or not, eating healthily or consuming six-pound bags of candy, running around all day at summer camp or sitting at my desk for eight hours, I pretty much stay around a certain weight, give or take five to ten pounds. (Don't worry...this is bound to catch up with me eventually.) Weight maintenance is why lots of people push themselves to exercise. Luckily, I had Kristen to help me remember the other benefits:
  • Tightening up - I might not gain a bunch of weight if I'm not exercising, but I do get kinda smushy.
  • Lightening up - i.e., letting the endorphins chase away my winter blues.
  • Nothing else really rhymes with those two things. But I'm sure there were other good reasons, too, along the lines of general health and wellness.

I was willing to give it a shot, so I signed up for step aerobics with Kristen...and about 20 other folks, most of whom were literally twice my age. And totally kicked my ass at step aerobics. But it was fun, and a challenging workout, and I didn't want to get on Kristen's naughty list, so I kept going (except in summertime, when I exercise all day, every day anyway, and when I need to sleeeeep on the weekends to make up for that constant exercise).

Exactly what I looked like every Saturday morning.
Totes available on Amazon.
Last year, some of my aerobics classmates organized a team through an exercise-incentive program that our place of employment hosts every winter. It's pretty sweet - you form a team and agree that each member will be active for a pre-determined number of minutes per day (and overall per week), and the teams who do the best at meeting their goals win a cash prize. MONEY: A new exercise motivator! Also, the free t-shirt. Really, though, for me, it was really the endless subconscious pursuit of perfection that was motivating: I didn't want to let the team down or be the one to mess everything up. That said, I may have, um, allowed some wiggle room in my definition of "exercise." To be fair, this program encourages participants to think outside the box in order to incorporate physical activity into daily life...but I'm not sure they would have agreed that sex counted. Or a brisk Swiffering session. Oh, well.

We're forming another team again this year, but I'm actually not enrolled in the step aerobics class currently. Kristen moved to D.C. last summer, and I really relied on her encouragement (and companionship. Awwww) to keep going. So this year will be an extra challenge for me - first of all, because I'm not in the aerobics class with my teammates, and second of all, I am currently exercising zero (0) minutes per week.

I came up with some daily exercise ideas, because I like to be a woman with a plan, and because it'll be easier to reach my weekly minute goal if I have lots of activity ideas:
  1. 60 minutes once a week of either a step aerobics class (drop-in) or racquetball. Because if it's good enough for senior citizens, it's bound to be my physical activity of choice.
  2. 40 minutes twice a week of the Insanity workout DVDs. I did Insanity for a month late last year, and it was...well, totally freaking insane. But effective. I obviously fell off the wagon, but I should be able to incorporate it twice a week.
  3. 30 minutes once a week of Wii fit (or 15 minutes twice a week). I literally jumped up and down when I got Wii Fit for Christmas from my sister a few years ago. Know how many times I've used it? Rhymes with "gyro."
  4. 20 minutes once a week of vigorous cleaning. Seriously, I reviewed the guidelines - scrubbing the floor or shoveling snow definitely count!
  5. 10 minutes on the days I don't do anything else dedicated to stretching/meditating. IT COUNTS. Or, at least, it should. 

That adds up to at least 200 minutes per week, and it meets the guidelines of 30 minutes at least three days out of every week. I'll be checking in weekly right here to track my progress. The great thing is, this all totally coincides with my grand "help yourself" project. Also? If I want to get knocked up anytime soon, it's probably better to be in shape beforehand. --Oh, right! Coming soon: My perceptions on conception. Because what's better than reading about my family planning? You know you can't wait. :) But in the meantime, I have some leftover Pizza Hut cheesy breadsticks to eat for dinner. Pre-fetuses love salty grease, right?


  1. Shoveling snow for sure counts!!!

    All right, dude, you are not alone in the endorphin chase, although I'm clocking more than 0 mins right now -- so if you want a motivator, hello there!

    As far as workout regimes, I tried P90X, but it was boring (although the Yoga is awesome). Insanity didn't look right for me either. Instead, I started (and stopped and started again, for a while) TurboFire, which is by the same P90Insanity people. It's more dancey and there is a lot of nice funk in the sound track :) Made it to week 8 once and it's pretty intense. Maybe not for you if you rocked Insanity, but if you wanna try that to change things up and keep 'em fresh, let me know. I fell off a few weeks ago and have been pumping myself up to start again.

    I also dare you with the strength of a billion suns to come with me to the Tree in Chelsea and try African. I will drive you. It's like aerobics on sweet free-range organic cage-free grass-fed crack. 90 minute class, I swear to any god you will sweat your ass off and get a huge complete body work out. Plus it's set to live drums, so the endorphin rush is intensified with the musick. All kinds of right brain goodness. You will be zinging! C'mmmmman, just once. I dare you! And afterwards we can have an organic smoothie, because of course they have that at the Tree of Life. :)

    In return, I'll do any of the exercise you listed with you (maybe not the cleaning). Or I'm down to check out Planet Rock. (C'mere, upper arm strength!)

  2. J.J. is doing P90X right now - I think I'm going to try just the yoga part of it. Pretty uninterested in the rest of it.

    Tell me more about the African drumming class. Is it...dancing? Aerobics? Do I have to be coordinated or know the routine? And when is it?



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