Let's Get Physical


Have you been thinking about starting a fitness program or taking your current program to the next level? Are you looking for some inspiration or motivation? Taking care of our bodies has enormous benefits, but sometimes life gets in the way and it's hard to get started. Even harder than beginning a new program, for me at least, is trying to get back in the game after taking a shameful hiatus. 

Some of you will remember the days when you had to lug yourself to a gym or fitness studio in order to workout or take a fitness class. Not always the most convenient of things. Factor in childcare, travel time, gym or class fees, battling the elements, etc., and it's easy to talk yourself out of making the effort to make the effort.

Many years ago, I taught aerobics. Seems like a lifetime ago. As with most other industries, I've seen the fitness industry, and fitness enthusiasts, embrace and exploit technology. Technology has limited our ability to make excuses that prevent us from taking good care of our bodies. In addition, technology has made often-boring workouts entertaining and interesting.

Some people enjoy the gym atmosphere and some prefer to exercise in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Gym memberships usually come with a price tag unless you live on or near a military installation. Most installations offer free use of the majority of gyms on post/base, and some even offer free fitness classes. I've used several Army gyms and have found most of them to be well-equipped.

I've been physically active all of my life, but 2006 did me in. Work demands, planning conferences, a deployment, and a host of other commitments left me sleeping about four hours per night. While I challenged and pushed myself professionally, I ignored myself physically, and I am now paying the price. Once I missed that first workout, missing the second one and the third one and the fourth one came all too easily. This year, I've made fitness a priority again and I am now working to regain the strength and muscle tone that I allowed to slip away last year. Trust me, playing catch-up is no fun...  It's not worth it!

Let's look at how technology and fitness now work together to make it easier to begin a fitness plan, or continue with one.

Is cardio boring to you? Doesn't have to be. If you have an iPod or similar device, plug up your ears with an earpiece, or strap on headphones, tune in to your favorite music or radio station (or TV station if you have the mobile XM) and go. Music/radio/tv can be used whether you're walking in your neighborhood, standing on a cardio machine in a gym or are working on a machine in your own home. I find that when I'm enjoying what I'm listening to, I go farther, work harder and look at the clock much less.

Do you want to workout but need someone to lead you? Or, are you embarrassed or uncomfortable attending a group fitness class? The solution is easy. Purchase a fitness DVD and workout from the privacy of your own home, whenever you want to.

Motivation. We're all motivated by different things, but aim for a long-term motivation. Wanting to lose weight for a high school reunion, or a redeployment, is completely understandable, but once it's over, what's going to keep you on track?   

My plan, which works for me:

To hell with the scale.  I don't believe in being a slave to a scale. I don't even own one. This super-thin, super-model worship is dangerous and unhealthy. In addition, it's very easy to become discouraged if you don't lose a few pounds after working so hard. It's harder to understand that you might be losing inches, gaining muscle tone and building a healthier heart if the scale delivers bad news. The number on the scale is an enemy in so many respects...

Diet, are you kidding? I'm an eater. I love food, always have. I will not deprive myself of food. Life is too short. I'm not a calorie counter. I do watch what I eat and generally eat pretty healthy meals, but if I want something deemed fatty, I'm going to eat it. There are two items I will never give up; chocolate and bread. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.

Workout. Five days a week, without fail. This has usually been in the form of DVDs because I work from home now, so it's more convenient for me. A couple of months ago, I found something that I'm really enjoying, Yoga Booty Ballet. I'm a cardio person, not a yoga person, but I do like the blend of cardio, strength training, emphasis on booty-work and flexibility benefits found in the Yoga Booty Ballet series. Another benefit of DVDs is how portable they are. I threw three DVDs in my suitcase while I was out of town last week and was able to continue my workout from my "hotel" room while I was on the road. No excuses.

Log It. I now keep a journal where I write what time I worked out, what my workout consisted of, what food I ate, how much water I drank. Keeping this journal helps me in many ways.

My day. One day a week when I can eat anything I want and not feel guilty. Although I don't deprive myself during the week if I'm really craving something, for the most part I do eat well. But, on "my day" I can have anything I want all day long without beating myself up over it.

As with most things in life, a commitment to fitness requires willpower and some stick-to-it-ness, but the rewards are amazing. I don't want to be a size 2, I just want to be strong and fit. I'm starting to feel like my old self again but I'm not finished beating myself up over letting my fitness program lapse, collapse is more like it. We have to carve out some time to take care of ourselves, even if it means getting up an hour earlier, or going to bed an hour later. Most of our families are counting on us for the long haul, let's not let them down.

So here I am, trying to get my elapsed fitness program back on track and find the healthier and stronger Andi that I abandoned last year. Technology is my friend. It's making my workouts more interesting. When I'm tempted to throw up an excuse, technology makes sure that I can't. At least not without feeling ultra-guilty about it...

My favorite DVDs:

Yoga Booty Ballet. I enjoy all of the videos in this series, with the exception of Hip Hop Abs.

Reebok Step, which is my all-time favorite video. An oldie, but a goodie.

Step Reebok, The Power Workout. Intense.

How's your fitness program? What works for you?

Guess I should throw in that mandatory clause that goes something like this: Please consult your physician before beginning any fitness program.

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