I do not like to exercise. I have never liked to exercise. And, no matter how hard people try to convince me that if I just get into the regular habit of it I will start to enjoy exercising, I know this is not true. I know this is not true because people have also tried to convince me that I will learn to like coffee and beer and after a great many years trying all three, I can say with absolute certainty that I dislike all of them. Not equally, but still, my dislike for each is strong.
This means that in my life I avidly avoid coffee and beer and for the last year or so, I’ve been pretty good at avoiding exercise as well. The avoidance of coffee and beer actually has real benefits both for my overall health and my waistline. The avoidance of exercise…well, not so much.
While I’m not actively avoiding exercise the way I am coffee and beer, for the last few months, my excuses for not exercising have really been piling up and are, quite frankly, lame. They are also partially to blame for the fact that over the last year it’s gotten harder and harder, and in some cases impossible, to fit into my favorite clothes. Hell, it’s gotten harder and harder to fit into some of my clothes I don’t even really like anymore. My “fat” jeans are now my every day jeans.
And that’s a problem.
I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve tried a variety of crazy diets and even did some probably beyond questionable things to keep my weight down. Thankfully at this point in my life I am old enough and sensible enough to realize that the only “diet” that has ever truly worked for me is counting calories and exercising.
About 15 years ago, I was at the heaviest point of my life. That summer I took a group of students on a trip to London during what turned out to be a horrific heat wave. We’d all packed for the 70 degree weather that historical trends and forecasts were promising, only to arrive to 8 days of 90+ temps. Not only that, but the tour company I booked with had us on daily forced marches. We’d be out and about the city by 9 am and wouldn’t be back at our hotel until about 9 pm. Some of that time was spent on buses that were more akin to saunas, but most of it was spent walking, walking, walking. We were so hot and so tired and probably so dehydrated (they do not have the never ending supply of water in restaurants that we do in the US), that none of us really had much of an appetite.
When I got back from my London adventure (which despite my description above was one of the best times of my life), I was 10 pounds lighter. And I knew exactly why: I’d hardly eaten and I’d walked and walked and walked.
This adventure kicked off my most successful diet ever. For countless months to follow, I lived on no more than 1300 calories each day and went to the gym at my apartment complex at least 4 times a week. It took awhile, but I dropped 50 pounds, which meant I was at my lowest weight since my junior year of high school. It was glorious.
And I kept that weight off for almost five years. Then I got pregnant with my son. After he was born I managed to lose all but 5 pounds of my baby weight, and I was ok with that. I kept that off…until I got pregnant with my daughter. After she was born I managed to lose all but 5 pounds of my baby weight again, so I was still only 10 pounds up. I had to go up a size, but that size was really steady for about 5 years.
Over this last two years it’s been slowly creeping again. I stepped on the scale last week and was appalled to see that while I was yet up to my absolute heaviest, I was only 5 pounds shy of it.
So here I am, back on the treadmill again. Well, actually I’m alternating between the Arc Trainer, the exercise bike, the elliptical and the treadmill, but you get my meaning. I’ve re-opened my My Fitness Pal account so that I can track my caloric intake and my exercise. I’ve set reasonable starting goals for myself: 1600 calories per day and 120 minutes of exercise each week. I’m ignoring the calorie adjustment the program gives me for my exercise and strictly adhering to my calorie goal. In the six days I’ve been working on this, my calorie count has been below 1400 each day and I have 130 minutes (I plan to do 30 more today).
My plan is to lower my calorie limit to 1500 per day and up my exercise to 130 minutes per week starting 8/1. Then in September, I’ll put it down to 1400 calories and 140 minutes. By October I want to keep things at 1300 calories and 150 minutes. Once I’m there I hope I can stick with it until I get things back under control.
I know this will not be easy, but I have to do it. I want to be healthy.