desperately seeking fitness motivation

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: health | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I’m going to go out on a limb here and try to talk about something I know very little about – fitness. I’m what would be classified as “skinny fat” – thin enough to appear in shape, but out of shape enough to get out of breath after climbing a couple flights of stairs. I have zero muscle tone and my heart and respiratory system could stand to be challenged by a bit of exercise. But it’s just so hard to doooo.

what does marilyn have to do with exercise? nada

My dilemma is the same as many – I work all day long, which leaves two options for bonafide exercise time – early am, or late pm. If you know me, you know I’m not an early riser. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to get my sorry butt out of bed in the morning (the only thing that gets me up early is when I know I am going to drive some sweet cats to the vet for Kitten Rescue). And after a full day of work and a starving belly, exercise is the last thing on my mind as I come crashing through the front door with all my stuff I carry around (purse, laptop bag, sweater, coffee mug – I’m like a bag lady really).  Plopping on the couch, cooking dinner, even cleaning are all more appetizing than going for a run or heading to a – gulp – gym.

I am no dummy, I know the physical (and mental) benefits of healthful living and regular exercise. My father is a martial arts instructor, my other father hits the gym every morning at 5am on the dot, my brother cycles, swims, and runs multiple times a week, even my mid-70s grandfather goes to the fitness center each and every morning (he’s a retired Colonel, die-hard and disciplined.)  It should be in my blood!!  But alas, I am lazy.  And having a husband with a no-maintenance-required physique is not helping matters.

So what’s a girl to do? Something’s gotta give. It’s time for change. I’m concerned for my future 60 year old self, and my current 28 year old self, for that matter. I have no plans to quit my job anytime soon, so I’ve got to find a solution that works for my am-or-pm schedule. I’m thinking am. After all, I’ve always WANTED to be a morning person, I quite enjoy lazy evenings (and eating dinner at a normal hour).  Plus, for the month I did a 6:30am bootcamp back in 07, I felt fantastic all day long and reveled in the fact that I could eat enormous breakfasts everyday.

So what’s my plan of attack? I’m the type of person who likes to lump changes together – therefore I think moving into our house is a great starting point for my ~*new fitness routine*~.  Plus, we are moving to a much more run-friendly neighborhood (as opposed to the sketch-tastic Sunset Blvd and dreaded La Brea/Santa Monica corner), which should be great, considering I want to accomplish this:

  • Mon-Fri: wake up early (no later than 7am) and go for a run/walk, followed by stretches.
  • Supplement with yoga classes and/or hiking at least 1-2 times a week.
  • Buy a bike by the end of the year and go for regular rides.

We’ll start there. Yoga is a no-brainer, easy-peasy, solution – being a neurotic nut who tends to worry herself sick (literally), I am familiar with the emotional and physical payoffs of yoga.  I even bought a great deal on Living Social this weekend – $45 fora month of unlimited yoga at Earth’s Power Yoga, a studio within walking distance of our new house. If only exercising were as easy as online shopping, right?

But running – this will be a challenge for me. I was that scrawny girl in high school who couldn’t run a quarter mile without dry-heaving (I actually joined track team in ninth grade and quit after a month, big surprise). But a couple years back, I watched my girlfriend Francesca complete the LA marathon and was mega-inspired.  I wanted to be one of those people with that kind of endurance, that kind of discipline, with those kinds of sculpted legs! So I started running around my sketchy block in the evenings. At first, I couldn’t run for more than a minute and a half without having to stop, and after a mile I was so out of breath and light headed I felt like my ears were bleeding. It was fun I tell you. But after a few weeks, I was able to run 3 miles – not in one straight shot, but I got it done eventually. I felt great. I looked great. I was in a good mood.

Then I stopped. And anyone who has quit a workout routine knows that the longer you go without it, the harder it is to start back up.

My brother, who is used to me asking him for the “secret” to fitness motivation, recently shared a quote with me from one of his Air Force bootcamp instructors. When asked why he kept running if it hurt so badly, he said “I run because it hurts.” Get it?  It’s about embracing the pain and letting that be your motivator to keep going. It only gets better from there, right?

Let’s hope so.  Anyone want to join me?

Share your own fitness motivation or tell me your secrets for tricking yourself into waking up early and/or getting your booty moving!

stretching at your desk (& other work survival techniques)

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: health, work | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Stuck in the eternal hell that is spending 3/4 of your day sitting in an office chair on the computer?  Me too.  Hey, we can’t all be kayak-instructors or super models, can we?  The physical strains from being sedentary and staring at a monitor are endless, but one of the best ways I’ve found you can prevent sore muscles and keep the life blood flowing is to stretch for just a few minutes every few hours.  It has profound physical and mental benefits.  It even puts you in a better mood.  I’m serious!

Now I’m no physical trainer, but I can promise you that if you twist or pull something the wrong direction too many times you’ll be in worse shape than you started.  So do yourself a favor and read this helpful tutorial from Real Simple before diving into your desk stretching routine.   It’s even got a video to show you the right way to do things – and I don’t even mind that the instructor has pit stains.  See?  Now you’re definitely going to click on it just to see them.

Other things that help the day go by more smoothly and keep me from throwing my computer out the window and going on an office-wide rampage:

  • Drink lots of water. It’s good for you AND means you get to take more bathroom breaks.  (Buy yourself a reusable water bottle or I’ll send the plastic police to arrest you!)
  • Keep healthy snacks in your desk. I’m not talking M&Ms, because you and I both know that the post-binge sugar crash is not worth those 300 empty calories.  Think nuts, fruit, granola bars, pretzels and peanut butter, really boring stuff like that.  If you’re going to eat candy, at least eat dark chocolate.  Also, eat breakfast.
  • Noise canceling ear buds. These will save your life and your productivity.  Mine were only $20 at Best Buy and work like a charm.
  • Get good background music or a podcast. Music is a no-brainer, but some people work better with TV or empty noise in the background.  Pod casts and radio shows are great for this and who knows, maybe you’ll actually learn something.  My drug of choice is Dave Ramsey’s financial talk radio show.  Yes, I am that type of a nerd.
  • Do something non-work related. Call your Mom.  Color a picture.  Clean out your purse.  You need something to balance out the surely heavy amount of work you’re pumping out (right?)  The law requires employers give employees a 15 minute break twice a day (plus your lunch break), so take advantage and get your mind off whatever project you’re doing.
  • Get off the internet. If you’re having a hard time focusing on your work and meeting your deadlines, shut down iChat and TweetDeck, remove Facebook from your bookmark menu (or delete it altogether like I did), hide your cell phone, and limit your email checking to once an hour.  It’s amazing what you can get done without all these distractions.  Plus, studies show your quality of work improves with less frequent breaks!
  • Go outside for crying out loud. I’m 99% sure God didn’t give us the sun so we could spend all day trying to block it from casting a glare on our precious monitors.  Break from your spreadsheet or email for 5 minutes to go walk outside.  Even if you don’t feel like walking (but chances are you could use it), just find a window and stare outside for a few minutes.  Don’t bring your phone, that’s cheating!

This guy’s got the right idea!

  • Your boss is going to hate me for this one – remind yourself that IT’S JUST A _____. This is not to say you should be unmotivated about your career and/or the task at hand, but don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in whatever project you are doing that it is negatively affecting your health and well-being (not to mention that of those around you).  If your workload is too much to manage – tell someone about it.  Make a case for hiring an assistant, an intern, or a team mate to share your load.  Don’t feel like you have to save the world all from those three walls of your cubicle – chances are, life will go on with or without this project launch.

Now share your tips for surviving cubicle-land! You might just save someone’s life.