Those who know me well (my kids) know that I’m the world’s biggest slob. Well, not the biggest, but definitely in the top quarter of the class. I used to work several nights a week plus Saturdays on my handyman business. Once there was less financial need for that, I started spending my evenings on my recliner watching TV and blogging, while dishes piled up in the sink, cat hair collected in the corners, and my weight crept up and up.
I played in a church summer softball league for nine years. Each year I’d vow that by next year I would have lost weight and worked out so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. And each year I was several pounds heavier and slower.
Then I got reacquainted with the world’s most wonderful woman, and suddenly had to deal with the responsibilities of being the world’s most fortunate man.
We got married in December and joined a gym in February. YouFit is the cheapest gym I’ve seen (about $15 a month) and has great equipment. They offer a free one-hour “coaching” session, which turned out to be a sales pitch for personal training. We got talked into four training sessions a month for a year.
The training didn’t go that well. We didn’t hit it off with our first trainer, and then had trouble finding anyone else available in the evenings, so eventually I begged off the contract. But I learned a handful of things that have been helpful.
I learned that weight training burns more fat than a cardio workout, and that the body needs to be stressed for the exercise to have an impact. Variety is good. It keeps the body off balance. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect the same results because the body adapts. And it’s better to work out with weights first and then follow up with cardio.
In the last month, I’ve lost about 8 pounds. I spend five minutes warming up on the elliptical, then do a circuit of 5-6 weight machines or free weights, 12-20 repetitions depending on what I can handle, plus sit-ups, three times around the circuit as fast as I can. I invariably work up a sweat and am panting by the middle of the second circuit. Then I go back to the elliptical machine, set resistance to 15, and plug away for 22-25 minutes until I’ve burned at least 325-350 calories. I’m usually done with everything in 45-50 minutes.
I’ve increased weights as I’ve progressed, to keep my body stressed, and I alternate between working the upper body one day and legs the next. If I happen to set a machine’s weight too low, I do more reps. I try to complete my weight routine in 15-20 minutes, so it’s very annoying when other people sit at a machine and rest between sets instead of moving on. But rather than talk to them, I skip that exercise and come back to it at the end of the circuit, or I find a similar machine.
The nice thing about doing cardio on the elliptical machine is that it keeps my arms and legs both moving smoothly, so I never end up sore from the weights. I usually feel exhausted when I start, but after ten minutes it gets easier and I can pick up the pace. After 20 minutes I set myself a series of small goals so I’ll keep going: 3 miles, 300 calories, 22 minutes, 3.25 miles, 24 minutes, 350 calories, next commercial break, finish this inning… The machines have a screen where you can watch TV. (If it wasn’t for TV sports, I might have quit the gym months ago.)
I’ve also changed my eating habits since Alicia left on her trip to Colombia. I skip supper or make a salad, and after working out I make a massive fruit shake with whatever is in the house, usually 4-6 fruits: strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, orange, lemon, kiwi, apple, whatever I have, plus crushed ice and milk or fruit juice and maybe a little ice cream. I put the leftovers in the freezer to be blended up another day. It tastes like dessert and is very refreshing, and is full of fiber and vitamins since I use nearly the whole fruit.
The difference is notable. My waist is smaller and I feel energetic and youthful. I still don’t like going to the gym, but it’s part of my schedule now.