As of today, I have spent three months berating you, my lovely and talented reader, for three months about the use of exercise in the battle to lose weight and now we are finished. Of course, as with the food portion, there are things I didn’t talk about and topics I did not cover –
such as that VO2 zone at the top, which is a heart rate level reserved for athletes, meth users, and people being struck by lightning -
– but you still have a good jumping off point to start crafting your own work-out routines. But even with all this helpful non-expert knowledge that I have attempted to impart, it can still be daunting to decide what you’re going to do. It may be even harder now, as it’s easy to pick which candy bar you want when there are only two choices, but much more difficult when you are given 14,399 choices.
"I guess I'll just take the sweet one . . ."
But remember what I said way back when (or, at least I think I remember; my memory is fuzzy, I often forget to put on pants before I leave the house) that you will need to start off with baby steps when you begin to exercise. This is not just to give your body time to adapt to the strain you will put on it, but also allow you to try out different things until you find the one that suits you the most. If you’re lucky, you will find that two or three choices feel good to you which will make losing weight that much easier as we tend to forget that we’re working when we are having fun.
Like when I chase after campers pretending to be bigfoot.
And yet it can still be daunting because that first step is always the hardest, and deciding on a routine is a lot different than doing that routine. So I’ll give you a little booster that can help you get closer to becoming a work-out machine.
The Five Minute Wake-Up Exercise
When I wake up, usually the first thing I do is turn on my computer. Unlike some of my friends and family who tend to think technology is the devil and our dependence on it is the heralding of our inevitable doom, I live off of my computer. I’ll wake up, check my email, surf for some geeky info on the next big superhero movie, take to a friend in China and then plan my blog post for the day. Others may go to the bathroom, or make a beeline for the coffee pot, or throw their alarm clock against, mutter something between an expletive and whatever they were dreaming about (e.g. “Fuck off, you goat monkey and put that marionette back into the bathtub”) the wall and go back to sleep. Whatever your normal morning ritual is, what I propose is a slight addition.
Within the first five minutes of waking about, do a simple exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous: jumping jacks, sit-ups, push ups, squats, running in place. Any one of those will do. And don’t worry about doing a full work-out either; one to five minutes will suffice. Do it everyday, without fail, until you do it without even realizing you are.
Once again, like when I chase after campers pretending to be bigfoot. I don't even realize I do it anymore.
Not only will this really wake you up, but it can also raise your entire metabolism for the day by 5%. I didn’t exactly pull that number out of my ass; a weight-lifting coach that I had in college told me that, and while I have not done any fact checking on it, it sounds nice and serves my purpose. Hey, if you’re gonna BS, you should at least be transparent about it.
Like this fish, who tells nothing but lies.
Whether or not it really raises your metabolism for the rest of the day, the main function of the exercise is not to burn fat but to train yourself to start new habits. Losing weight is not just the elimination of bad habits but the formation of good ones, and exercising is just a habit.
For shits and giggles, I wanted to see if I could form a habit at will. I decided that whenever I was bored, I would gently bite my nails. At first it was a chore, but after no time at all I had started to notice that I was chewing away my fingers. I was terrified at my newly formed habit, but I was also thrilled that it had worked. That’s what you want do with exercising, sans the terror. Waking up and exercising just a little bit everyday will get you used to working out without having to think about it; that exercise is not something you have to do, it is just simply something you do. Once you’re there, you’ll realize it’s not so difficult to continue the practice. Now, I’m not suggesting you always work out in the morning, but starting everyday with a little activity will put you in the right frame of mind.
And you’ll have the added bonus of shaping your body. Fifty push-ups everyday doesn’t seem like a lot, but after a season you will feel a difference. Yes, major weight-loss will take time and if you have more than fifty pounds to lose you’re not going to have a model’s body within a year with five minute exercises, but every little bit helps as it all adds up and it doesn’t take that long to start seeing changes. It’s simple mechanics: If you eat right and exercise properly, your body will have no choice but to lose weight. The real fight, as I have always said, is in your head, and a good way to win that fight is to form a good habit. Think of it this way:
If you had been exercising a little bit every single day, or eating right, or both, during the entire time that I have been blogging about all of this, you would not recognize the person you would see in the mirror. You wouldn’t be an Adonis, but you would be healthier, stronger, fitter, and yes, probably slimmer as well. It may take a whole lot of time and effort to completely change everything, but it doesn’t take that much to start seeing results.