I’ve struggled with my weight and fitness my whole life, but recently the whole battle has taken on a more urgent note as I’ve added a new variable — aging — to the mix. What was hard before sometimes seems impossible now.
Recently, I saw a video that was really powerful and totally changed the way I saw the problem:
The video is great because it’s based on science and because Dr. Evans does the work for you — he’s read the research and he distills it all down to the most important element.
But that’s not why it changed my view.
I’m a scientist after all and I’ve read a fair amount of articles and papers on obesity and fitness. I even knew that 30 minutes of exercise a day gave many health benefits.
The difference for me with this video was how Dr. Evans framed the problem. Instead of saying essentially “It’s only 30 minutes a day! You can find 30 minutes!” He said something like “All you have to do is limit your sedentary time to 23.5 hours out of 24 per day.” I don’t know why, but that makes a huge difference to my state of mind.
You see, I’ve been trying to find that elusive 30 minutes a day for years. I’ve joined gyms, tried walking around my neighborhood, tried getting to the pool, or going for a bike ride. But my reality for the past few years has been that of a working mom — I work all day, then come home to my kids and home where there’s dinner to make, laundry to do, and rides to give so my kids can get to their sports and activities. Plus, because I’m a teacher and a writer, I’m always bringing work home. So, somehow, finding “just 30 minutes” to exercise always falls by the wayside. If I have 30 minutes to spare, I’d much rather spend it reading a book or checking facebook or my favorite blogs. 30 minutes for exercise was just one thing too many.
But when I flip the number over, and think about only 23 1/2 hours of everything else, I feel more motivated to exercise. It’s like, I have 23 1/2 hours out of 24 for all that other stuff. That’s almost the entire day. If I have almost the entire day of every day to get everything done, then 30 minutes, or 1/48th of a day doesn’t seem like so much.
Maybe that’s just me. And maybe you’re thinking about sleep and drive time (if I were to try to go to a gym, it wouldn’t be “just 30 minutes”). And that’s true. So, then I had to think about the best/easiest/most reliable way to get my 30 minutes in.
Enter this baby:
FitDesk -- A compact exercise bike with a support for your laptop
This was my Christmas present from Dan. (BTW, I don’t have anything to do with the FitDesk company so this isn’t an ad.) I asked for the bike because I was trying to figure out how to incorporate exercise into the life I already lead, rather than adding another thing. I already like to spend time on the Internet so…..now I’ll pedal while I do it!
Working exercise into my existing routine is the only thing that’s worked for me in the past. When I look back at the times I got fit, it’s because I did things like commute by walking or biking (walking up and down Comm. Ave in Boston as I went to and from the dorms to classes at Boston University, or bicycle commuting to UMass Amherst, NAU, and the UW). Working exercise into my commute meant I did it every day.
These days, my schedule is so tight with parenting responsibilities that I keep my commute as short as possible, which rules out biking. Plus my fitness has slipped so badly that even the 3 mile commute from the Everett train station to EvCC seems daunting. Maybe someday. The kids do keep getting older and more independent. Plus biking at home will help me get in shape so that I’m not afraid to try that again.
I have other fitness goals besides just biking 30 minutes a day. I’d like to get back to yoga because aging brings a lot of stiffness (and how is that fair? that you get stiff in some places and sag in others?!). I’d also like to pick up my weights again to get some muscle mass back. (Have you ever seen what happens to unused muscle as you age? If not, check this out:
Muscle Loss due to aging can be resisted by exercise
I copied this picture from the blog Sweat Science .) Basically, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Add to that the fact that muscle tissue has a higher resting metabolism than fat, and you start to realize at least one reason why it’s harder and harder to lose weight as you age.
But I know myself — it’s easy to be ambitious, and even easier to get overwhelmed. So, for this year I’m going to focus on eating healthy and limiting my sedentary time to 23 1/2 hours per day.
Will it work? I’ll let you know if you’re interested. For now, I can tell you that I pedaled 35 minutes and burned 435 calories while I finished this blog post. 🙂
Blogging and pedaling (in my pj's!)