Saturday, August 01, 2009

Needs Vs. Wants

I need to find an exercise program that works for me. I had convinced myself that all of the running around I do with 4 kids (6 kids if you include the borrowed ones) burned enough calories so that I didn't need to exercise, but I just can't keep up that charade any longer. I get achy too easily, and I tire too easily. I am obviously out of shape.

So, over the last few years, I have tried-out some various "programs" and schedules. I am not really the internally-motivated type. If it's not down on paper, I won't do it (I will also freak-out that it won't fit into my schedule). So I was looking for something pre-packaged that I could follow then adapt as I got to know it better.

Attempt #1: Back when I only had 2 kids, then 3, Body Electric would air during the kids' nap time. It was perfect. Low impact. Scheduled. 30-minutes and done. Then we moved and our new PBS affiliate didn't carry it, but I had recorded some of the workouts so I thought I'd be good. Wrong. When Quiet Time came around, I'd think, "Oh, I can pop in that tape" [remember tapes?!] "any old time. I'll clean [nap, make supper] now and exercise later." I needed that set time everyday... a set time ordained by someone else. We've moved again since, but now we don't get TV, so any broadcast program is out of the question.

Attempt #2: Exercise class through adult ed at the local high school. I was the youngest, least fit person in the class. I finished-out the classes I paid for then stopped.

Attempt #3: In an attempt to encourage me in my exercise endeavors, Frodo purchased some exercise equipment for me: a yoga mat, a balance ball, a block, and a bag to store and carry it all in. I've use the mat... twice? The ball has been taken out of the box; it wouldn't fit in the bag in its box, so the box had to go. I tried using the block once for some modified push-up exercise and almost gave myself a bloody nose when I slipped off the stupid thing. I use the bag all the time. It stores all the equipment very nicely and fits beautifully in its appointed place, conveniently located to be grabbed on the run or when I need to move it to clean my closet or locate a rogue shoe.

Attempt #4: To go along with my relatively new, yet already dusty, exercise gear, I bought the book Pilates: Body In Motion. It is a DK book with great photos, easy to follow descriptions of each exercise, and recommended exercise plans. I only used it twice. Have you ever tried to "Roll Like a Ball" while holding a paperback exercise book? Not pretty.

Attempt #5: I figured the quick fix to the book problem was to get a DVD. I ordered Louise Solomon's Yoga & Pilates Total Body Toner. Two problems: 1) I had to enforce my own schedule. Ha! 2) I couldn't do the workouts on the floor and see the TV. The one in the living room may have worked if our living room didn't have any furniture in it, and the one in our bedroom was so high up (being on top of a highboy dresser) that I got a workout but then needed to see a chiropracter about the crick in my neck.

Attempt #6: I have actually tried them twice. Once paired up with a physically distant friend. I liked the accountability (she could see if I had logged in my food and exercise info for the day and whether or not I was acheiving my goals), but it only works if you enter in your info every day - what you ate and the exercise you did. The exercise was actually pretty easy to enter, but the food was a chore. I often had to enter meals by ingredient since we rarely eat out, eat little prepackaged food, and often make recipe substitutions (whole wheat flour for white, etc) or just don't use a recipe at all. The second time (which I am currently in the process of abandoning - and overlapping with "Attempt #8... oh joy), was solo. All the frustrations of the first go-round with no accountability. Disaster waiting to happen.

Attempt #7: Since I couldn't find someone/ something to impose an exercise schedule on me, I decided an in-house exercise partner might work. Frodo is a faster walker than I am, and we generally have very different schedules, so that pairing wasn't going to work. I decided to go for exercise accountability and one-on-one mom-kid time and asked Primo to do Couch to 5K with me. Who'd of thought that a program with "5K" in the title would involve running? I don't run... unless I am being chased by a bear. They didn't provide one.

Attempt #8: The kids have been taking swimming lessons at the university since last fall. Only students, faculty, and recreation center members (and swim school kids) can use the pool, so this summer we signed up for a student family membership to the center. It was great! When Primo was in her lesson, I swam around with the younger three. When the younger three were in lessons, Primo and I swam laps and played speed games in the pool. Frodo would even join us when he was done with his afternoon tutoring sessions. I was guaranteed an hour in the pool twice a week. It was very easy to plan another family swim time at the pool or lake a third day during the week. I was golden. Until swimming lessons stopped. We went 2-3 tmes a week for almost another month, went on vacation (where were went swimming in the hotel pools almost daily), then came home and... nothing. I think we've been to the pool two times since early July.

As I was discussing my exercise woes with Frodo the other day and sharing with him my plan to get up earlier and try to get to the pool or walking park (did I mention there is a walking park 2 miles down the road from us?) early a few days a week, I came to a realization:

I need an exercise program, but I don't want an exercise program.

I want an exercise montage. Like in Rocky.

I want to don my "I mean business" exercise clothes, lace up my Nikes, and two minutes later be sweaty, fit, and celebrating at the top of the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I don't want to have to find real time, be sore, create more laundry, or add more showers to my week. I want great background music and a fit body in two minutes. I'm not even averse to sweat.

Is that too much to ask?

And while I'm at it, I would also like commercial breaks where a stage crew comes in and cleans my house. And have conflicts that result in witty one-liners (made mostly by me) and are resolved by a compassionate yet clever heart-to-heart less than 30 minutes (minus commercial breaks) after the introduction of the conflict.

How do you get out of the habit of no disciplined exercised to some form of disciplined exercise? Anyone? I'm all out of ideas.

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