Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Exercise, Part 1

Way back in March, I embarked on a diet-and-exercise kick. I had two reasons; first, that I was sick of looking at my chubby ass in the mirror.

The second is silly, but oddly enough has been the one that's kept me going more than anything--the fact that I could not possibly survive an apocalypse, zombie or otherwise, at my current level of fitness. I mean, have you watched these movies? Those people are running all the time. Back in March, I would have made it maybe a block before I got eaten by a zom or swallowed up by the giant flood of lava or something. Bottom line, I have this image of myself as a badass that my level of physical fitness just wasn't matching. I decided to change that. Six months later, I'm still doing it, and it worked.

Now, six months does not an expert make, by any means. But I've tried and failed often enough to know the difference now between this winning program and the losing programs I've tried before. Only about half of it has to do with what I'm actually doing; the rest has to do with the way I've changed my attitude toward diet and exercise. So I figured I'd put my little tips down, and if you're struggling, or mulling a plan, maybe it'll help you. Today, I'll cover the tools which helped me do what I've done.

I've always wanted to be a runner, even though I considered myself to be exceptionally bad at it, so that was the first part of my program. I did a bastardized version of the Mayo Clinic's 5k prep program.

Here are the benefits of this plan--you do not destroy yourself on day one. Most people, myself included, when they decide they want to start running, will run as far and as fast as they can, until they've got a stitch in their side and they're dry-heaving on the pavement. Wake up. The whole reason for getting into shape is you're not in shape now. If you wreck yourself on the first few days or weeks, the chances of you sticking with it decrease exponentially.

I also bought two workout videos, both of which are available on Amazon Instant Video: Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred Level 1 and Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFix. I did one of these pretty much every day, because they're only twenty minutes, and they worked out all the parts of me that the running neglected. Workout videos are boring, so I suggest you keep them short, and get a couple so you can rotate them, like I did.

I found a few apps for the iPhone which are really helpful, too. Top of the list is MyFitnessPal. Weight loss is simple math, and MyFitnessPal does the math for you. The app is free, and you can calculate calories burned in the app, scan foods in with the barcode scanner or search by keyword. And they have everything. Seriously. Once, I swallowed a bug on my run, and looked it up in MyFitnessPal as a joke. And:

I also like to track my runs with an app. I used to use Runtastic, but got really turned off when I started using the "share to Facebook" feature. Runtastic posts the map of your run. To the internet. No, no, hell no. Don't do this, ever. Posting maps of your runs, especially if you're female, is basically posting a nice big neon sign saying, "I will be here, between 5:30 and 6:00 every day, come and rape me!" I switched to NikeFit after that--same features, but they give you the option to publish without the map. Also, free.

There are two more tools I use, and without a doubt they are the most crucial in my toolkit.
 They are my dogs, Sirius and Dobby (right to left). I started out on the run/walk program with them in March. Thanks to them--and their enthusiasm for going fast--I'm now running seven days a week. They are the most ball-busting trainers in the world. Too bad if Mommy had a shitty Monday and wants to take it easy. They want to go, and they don't accept excuses. So if you have a dog--and please be reasonable about your dog's physical ability, do not attempt to take your Pomeranian or Yorkie or seventeen-year-old Labrador on a jog--get them involved. You won't miss a workout, I promise you.

Next week, I'll be back with more on this, focusing on the attitude changes; the internal cheerleading, if you will. See you then!


  1. Speaking of tools... how's Martin? Happy bday to him. Closer to the topic at hand, there are 5k apps that train you specifically for the Zombie Apocalypse (Zombies, Run!)

    Hope you keep up the running, especially with the cold weather approaching. You can still find winter running gear on sale from last season if you're lucky.

    I started running 11 months ago from a state of pure lard and now I'm in marathon training for a December race. Keep it up!

  2. I always wanted to try the Zombies, Run! app, but wasn't sure how feasible that would be with a combined 150lbs of dogs in tow!

  3. And Martin's great, thanks! How are you?