Well, my spin classes won't save me from death but I like them.
March 8, 2016 9:13 AM   Subscribe

 
I did this when I was 43 and it has improved my health, my mood, my sleep, my mobility, my confidence and my marriage (I did this with my wife). It wasn't easy. It wasn't painless. It takes up a lot of your energy and time. But if you stick to it long enough the payoffs are huge.
posted by srboisvert at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm not quite middle aged (32), but I've been overweight since forever, and I've got a family history of all the diseases you get from eating at Bojangles regularly, and this is basically where I am right now. At first it was just slightly high blood pressure, then it was cholesterol, then it was slightly elevated lets keep an eye on it fasting blood glucose, and suddenly I feel like it's a Problem. In a lot of ways, dealing with it genuinely sucks. I got up at 5:00 am this morning to continue my *mumblemumble* attempt at Couch to 5K, I'm eating a salad, even though there's mayo and bread out that there could really make the tuna on it actually really good. On the other hand, every time I see my family there's this conversation about how everyone's diabetes is going and shit I love not being part of that and I want hold on as long as I can.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


I am choosing to believe that there's a difference between the British and the Americans in that it would be difficult to get a group of Americans together to boast about not working out in a mainstream publication. Maybe a humor column, or some kind of shame-humor self-deprecating women's magazine thing, but even there it would be "oh, well, I hate exercise, I can barely bring myself to get to the gym three times a week for a lazy thirty minutes on the ellipitical."
posted by Frowner at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm 35 and I've been running for the past 5 years. I also started with the C25K program and it has indeed changed my life. All of my 20s was spent eating what I wanted and not performing any physical activity. I lost weight, improved my health, and changed my eating habits too. My body and my mind thanks me every day that I get up and hit the road.

I love reading about these types of stories, when people find their "thing." And that's one aspect of fitness that I would stress as most important. What that "thing" is will be different for every person. For some individuals its yoga or running or cycling or walking or swimming. Some people need a group environment, some people need to be on their own. I know that I prefer to run alone and even when I'm at the gym, I cannot be bothered to participate in a group dynamic, it just bums me out somehow. But then there are other people that need a group or a coach to yell at them, to help motivate them as they work out.

I hope everyone finds their own thing, whatever it is.
posted by Fizz at 9:33 AM on March 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


I should mention that I owe metafilter and mathowie for introducing me to the concepts of the hacker's diet and Couch 2 5k both of which were integral to my success after a lifetime of fitness fails.
posted by srboisvert at 9:33 AM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I had a really unhealthy teens and twenties and paid for it IN SPADES when I hit my thirties, which gave me a few months of living like an eighty year old. Seriously, just... do some walking, eat right, do the nice stuff for yourself. Learn to like living in your body. You're not going anywhere else, so you might as well decorate it while you're staying.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:34 AM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


The whole "don't take it too easy" line needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Starting any new regimen without easing in can quickly result in injury. I had that experience with BJJ, which I loved but was just too injury-inducing (for me) to continue practicing. Yes yes yes to walking, since you can work it into your daily routine.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:38 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


it would be difficult to get a group of Americans together to boast about not working out in a mainstream publication.

Eh, I'm certain that 23 year old me could have been convinced. I took a perverse pride in my couch potato indoor-kidness for a really long time. (Likely the result of having two fitness-obsessed parents. Gotta rebel somehow, right?)

Nowadays though, I am fully a Working Out Person. 6 days a week, no dragging about it (unless I'm sick or hungover)--I absolutely NEED to go or I'm a whirling hell-demon. Watching my dad's knees crumble to dust after 30 years of running has me on the elliptical more days than not, but I'd never call it lazy.

10 year old Blast Hardcheese is so, so disappointed.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:45 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I need to find a new way to exercise that I can stick with. I'm not allowed to run again due to my lower back issues and it's frustrating as hell to not have that anymore. I so miss my early mornings runs along the river trail.
posted by octothorpe at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The nice thing is that raising kids doesn't eat into any of your free time to exercise.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


I am recovering from surgery so I can't run or bike (or even really walk) right now, so it's painful to think about how much I miss it.

But at the same time, this injury has enlightened me to how frustrating it can be for people who can't run a 5k for whatever reason (disability, time, access) to hear stuff like this all the time. And I realize how annoying the bragging can be to see on social media... while still missing being able to brag myself because brains are funny that way.

So I am all for extolling the virtues of exercise--my blood pressure always goes up when I'm not active, and my mental health has taken quite a hit--as long as we remember that exercise does not make you a better or more moral human being, and we are compassionate towards those who can't make the same choices.
posted by misskaz at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2016 [29 favorites]


I got a couch to 5K app for my phone – a stern American lady telling you when to walk and when to run over the music of your choice.

Beats the homegrown alternative, surely.
posted by The Tensor at 9:55 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The nice thing is that raising kids doesn't eat into any of your free time to exercise.

Yeah, this.

For me, fitness and exercise are as much about mental health as physical health. I just feel better and have more mental clarity when I'm exercising regularly, and my body feels better too.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Can someone translate this to USian for me:

I don’t drink every night any more. I restrict most of my drinking to Binge Friday. Get it all out of the way in one night – saves on time and hangovers. I’ve discovered that Bombay Mix isn’t quite the great slimmers’ panacea I once believed it to be, and try to restrict myself to fewer than four bars of chocolate a day, excluding chocolate liqueurs (not included in the alcohol intake).

I play football badly, swim even worse, jog when I haven’t got football injuries, do keepy-uppy in the street, and play tennis with partners who haven’t yet died on me. If I were wise, I’d swap football for pilates, and start stretching properly
.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seriously, though, the thing I find hardest about staying in shape at 43, after a very active life, is how much more everything just hurts. After a good workout, even yoga, I can ache for two straight days. (Cold water soaks a la Tim Ferris do help, but there aren't many ways I'd less rather spend my time.)

Starting around 40, physical recovery starts to take so much longer, and body parts just start to hurt, randomly. Pull the kids in a sled on afternoon, bam, weeks of shoulder pain. Sleep wrong, boom, stiff neck all week. Three drinks on a Saturday night? Forget it, miserable til Tuesday.

That and early injuries start to catch up with you. Both knees I had operated on decades ago now feel like they're just bone on bone in there.

Every day it gets easier to understand how half the conversations with my parents, in their 80s, revolves around slowly failing physiology. And not all theirs.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hated running with a burning passion (there's something about my joints that's just not right for it), felt really self-conscious in yoga (gangly and unbalanced), don't get off on the side-by-side competition aspect of spinning, never found myself breaking a sweat walking...and then discovered a free lap pool in my neighborhood! If you can swim and feel burnt out by other options, give swimming a try. It's wonderful. And you improve so quickly that you can feel your stamina increasing pretty much every swim, as long as you go 3 or so times per week.
posted by sallybrown at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nowadays for me exercise is all about efficiency: HIIT (jump rope), TRX in the basement, yoga classes on Roku - anything to get the exercise done quick and intensely.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm 41 and started running last year with Couch-to-5k. I lost 35 lbs between that and the dreaded calorie-counting (though lately gained back 3 because it's Girl Scout Cookie season) and feel so much better. I actually dislike running and am procrastinating going out for my lunchtime run right now, but I've found it's the thing that is at the intersection of "don't hate it too much" and "have time and opportunity to do it." There's lots of sports I enjoy more, but none of them are accessible to me 4-5 days a week. I hear it's beautiful out there today, so at least I'll be off the treadmill and running outside, as god intended.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:07 AM on March 8, 2016


"Bombay mix" is a bar snack, along the lines of chex mix (but with different components). Can't help you on keepy-uppy.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:08 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Keepy-uppy is apparently that thing where you bobble a soccer ball about using feet, legs, chest, shoulders, etc, and keep it from hitting the ground. Like hackey sack, but with less pot.
posted by e to the pi i at 10:11 AM on March 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


The funny thing about running for me was that even though I loved it and got into really good aerobic shape, I never lost any weight doing it. I trained for and ran four 1/2 marathons and didn't lose a pound of doing it. I got to where I was running as much as 40 to 50 miles a week at around a 9 minute pace but was still as fat was when I couldn't run a mile.
posted by octothorpe at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The "I feel *so* much better after a workout!" feeling just does not happen to me. If I work out, I just feel tired and bitchy and angry afterwards. Every single time.
posted by Lucinda at 10:17 AM on March 8, 2016 [29 favorites]


I actually like working out--I just don't like the "ugh, do I have to?" feeling I get nearly every single time before I start--because it allows my brain to just be focused on the act rather than my usual mental melange of anxieties, worries, and fears. It is a very brief but welcome respite.
posted by Kitteh at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have to say that this thread inspired me to go for a walk during my lunchtime instead of my usual power nap. (I haven't been entirely sedentary--I have taken my city bike on coffee runs a couple of times this not-quite-spring-not-really-winter, and am getting my road bike overhauled--but it was still nice, especially with the Allman Bros. and the Les Miz international cast as musical company.)


do you hear the people sing?
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:28 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah I hear you there Lucinda. Like if I'm just doing workout stuff I never feel better after. If I was just playing a game or some sort of competition though it is totally different and I do feel good. Maybe it's the competition aspect about it I'm not sure. Otherwise if it was just about feeling good I'd never work out. People who talk about feeling so great after may as well be speaking a foreign language. I do this stuff so I die later not because it feels good.
posted by Carillon at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I want to hang out with all the people from the article. They each sound great
posted by biggreenplant at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Translation:

I don’t drink every night any more. I restrict most of my drinking to Binge Friday. Get it all out of the way in one night – saves on time and hangovers. I’ve discovered that A Sort Of Indian Chex Mix Only Made Of Fried Peas And Lentils And Peanuts And Some Sort Of Maize-y Twig Stuff In A Dust Of Flavorful Spices isn’t quite the great dieter's panacea I once believed it to be, and try to restrict myself to fewer than four candy bars a day, excluding chocolate liqueurs (not included in the alcohol intake).

I play soccer badly, swim even worse, jog when I haven’t got soccer injuries, do that thing where you keep the soccer ball in the air without letting it touch the ground for as long as you can in the street, and play tennis with partners who haven’t yet died on me. If I were wise, I’d swap soccer for pilates, and start stretching properly.
posted by tel3path at 10:38 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The "I feel *so* much better after a workout!" feeling just does not happen to me. If I work out, I just feel tired and bitchy and angry afterwards. Every single time.

Oh absolutely. I sometimes enjoy being mid-workout, but never post-workout. Nonetheless, if I am sedentary for more than one day in a row, I become irritable, jittery, tired, and just an all-around grump. Not entirely sure how those two phenomena square with each other but somehow they do.

(As an adult I now realize that both of my parents and at least one of my siblings have been self-medicating depression and anxiety with exercise their whole lives, to varying degrees of success.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:39 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel so much better after a workout because it's over.
posted by tel3path at 10:39 AM on March 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm in a tough position where I have a job that has really long hours during the week and a wife at home who is practically a single mother during the week taking care of our 2 small kids. So it is hard to take time during the day to exercise when I could be either spending it on helping around the house or spending time with family.

My "hack" to make sure I go to the gym at least once a week is to have a weekly session with a personal trainer. At that point it becomes a scheduled thing that costs money and so doesn't get sidetracked by last minute grocery runs or computer fixing. The training session means that I have to go at least one more time during the week (usually after work because everyone is asleep at home by then, although this has gotten harder now that my gym has gone from 24 hours to closing at 1am) because that is what my trainer expects.

My work becomes substantially busier over the summer so I'll probably stop the gym and training sessions then and pick up some TRX bands and resume biking from work and see how that goes. I am hoping it goes well because a gym membership + weekly training session is expensive, and while it is something I can afford there are other things I could use that money for.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:47 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The "I feel *so* much better after a workout!" feeling just does not happen to me. If I work out, I just feel tired and bitchy and angry afterwards. Every single time.

This. OMG. This this this this this.

My whole life I've had people tell me how I'd feel so much better if I'd just go exercise and just - no. I never have. I hate it while I'm doing it, and and I feel lousy (grouchy, clammy, not just physically tired but the kind of emotional tired I associate with having just walked away from an argument with someone) (no, it's not my blood sugar, eating doesn't help). This might be the first time I've EVER heard someone else say they feel this way - so thank you.
posted by anastasiav at 10:51 AM on March 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Dance. It's dance for me. And not your highfalutin' ballet. Oh no. Burlesque. Pole dance. The low-down sexy stuff. Because holy shit do you know how strong and lithe dancers are. Especially ones who can lift their entire body upside down by their arms.
posted by egypturnash at 10:52 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Has there ever been any studies as to some poeple not being wired for exercise? I'm one of those people who has never experienced any sort of pleasure from exercise. Even growing up when I was obsessed with sports and was halfway decent at a few of them, the workout/exercise part was always misery. I used to row competitvely, and was in incredible shape. Hated every second of it. My teammates would talk about that breakthrough moment. Never came for me. No endorphin rush, no clear headed stress relief afterward. I always felt cheated.

After a serious high blood pressure diagnosis a few years back, I started exercising regularly. And I still hate it. The whole time my brain is screaming at me "Stop this madness!" The only thing that keeps me at the gym every other day is knowing it keeps my BP in check .

Know what does give me that endorphin rush, and stress relief? A couple of hours on the couch with a good book. Or a leisurely afternoon with my sketchbook when my brain and pencil are in sync. Maybe it's all in my head, but I'm completely convinced not all of us are meant for physical toil.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm 43 years old. After a lifetime of failed diets and exercise regimens, I started exercising in January because I was so sedentary that my hips would hurt from sitting on my sofa for hours on a Saturday reading and watching TV. And I thought - I don't want to be the person who aches for no reason. I wanted to build strength and flexibility. My husband feels the same way.

We bought a Total Gym because we are round people and too self-conscious to join a gym. I started on the lowest level (basically flat) and humiliated myself struggling to get up off of the glideboard. I started doing Yoga with Adriene videos (recommended by a MeFite, thank you!) on my off days from the Total Gym. My muscles were screaming in protest.

I hate working out. I dread it before, hate it during, and am sore and angry afterwards. After a week of our new pain-inducing exercise program we realized, well, nobody's going to be able to tell we've been exercising if we don't start losing weight. We cut out the take-out food, and started cooking simple meals at home. With a vegetable on the side.

We are 2 months in. My hips no longer hurt for no reason and shaving my legs in the shower is easier because I can bend better/left my leg higher. I can climb stairs without stiffness. We did a bunch of yard work 2 weeks ago and didn't wear out as easily.

I'm 18.5 pounds down without starving myself. I raised my Total Gym incline to Level 4. None of this is easy, but it's working. It's a very subtle kind of magic.
posted by kimberussell at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


The "I feel *so* much better after a workout!" feeling just does not happen to me. If I work out, I just feel tired and bitchy and angry afterwards. Every single time.


My people! You are here, in this thread. Hello. It's so hard to talk about this too because saying something like "running doesn't make me feel good, it makes me really angry" gets such pushback usually, like there's something wrong with me. Long, brisk walks are great, I feel good afterwards and I get some cardio without feeling like I'm having an emotional breakdown.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Can we be real, is "walking" really considered a form of legitimate exercise? Because I really love walking, and I totally realize it's better than nothing, but I really want to know how effective it truly is at actually maintaining your body/joints/heart if you're below 60 and not overweight.

Like many above, I despise running and always feel worse afterward. But I sometimes walk many miles in a given week by mere virtue of living in the city, and I always wonder how "good" it really is for me. Because I've told doctors that I'm not especially active but I do walk a whole lot and they laugh like, "haha, okay, but do you get any exercise?"
posted by windbox at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've never gotten a runner's high, I'm pretty convinced that's BS. But the first day I bike to work after any appreciable time off, I tend to feel pretty great for a couple hours after arriving at work. Unfortunately it only happens the first day or two, and after that it's more of a mental health maintenance thing than a rush - I miss its absence more than I feel its presence.

Sometimes I think I mostly appreciate exercise for the alone time - no loud TV or computer screens, no fellow bus passengers, no coworkers, no boyfriend or pets clamoring for attention, just me and and the city and the weather and my breathing. I don't even listen to music, usually. It's why gym workouts never seem to have the same effect for me.

Oh god I miss my bike so much *sob*
posted by misskaz at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Long, brisk walks are great, I feel good afterwards and I get some cardio without feeling like I'm having an emotional breakdown.

Oh man, the difference between walking and running. I will happily and enthusiastically walk miles every day for weeks, but I ask my body to go any faster and it turns into Paul Rudd picking up that stuff in Wet Hot American Summer.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2016 [26 favorites]


Can we be real, is "walking" really considered a form of legitimate exercise? Because I really love walking, and I totally realize it's better than nothing, but I really want to know how effective it truly is at actually maintaining your body/joints/heart if you're below 60 and not overweight.

Walking a lot is great! It strengthens muscles throughout your legs, back and core, it improves cardiovascular health and function, it improves hormone regulation, helps you sleep better...the list goes on! The potential shortcoming that walking has, as exercise, is that it may not get one's heart-rate quite up to an optimal point, but it is totally exercise.
posted by clockzero at 11:11 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


So continuing on my previous reply that struck a chord, doing stuff that I love is what works for me.

For six years, it'd been roller derby. But as the culture of roller derby evolved from "hey, this is a fun thing you can do on roller skates" to "this is a serious sport and you have to work out if you want to excel", I faded. We would have off-skates workout practices on Sunday mornings, which were the absolute worst, because getting up at 9am on a weekend to go and do pushups! and situps! and fucking planks! and let's pick up this ball and put it down again and again! and I'd be so tired and bitchy and hungry and rage-filled afterwards that I would go home, eat everything that wasn't nailed down and then sleep for 4-5 hours, ruining my sleep schedule and my day.

That, plus a rotator cuff tear led me to give up playing. Now I officiate, which is still a good workout but nowhere near as intense as getting actively shoved and knocked around.

Also, when I try out new things that I think I might love (I'm looking right at you, parkour), I injure myself.

So officiating roller derby and dancing like a mad fool are about all I do these days.
posted by Lucinda at 11:13 AM on March 8, 2016


Can we be real, is "walking" really considered a form of legitimate exercise? Because I really love walking, and I totally realize it's better than nothing, but I really want to know how effective it truly is at actually maintaining your body/joints/heart if you're below 60 and not overweight.

It is incredibly effective if you're actually pushing yourself a little bit. Walking scales in a number of ways (speed, incline, distance, weight carried, etc.) all of which make the activity more or less difficult. Hiking trips, for example, are almost entirely walking - and most people can't do more than a few miles in a single day.

A decent rule of thumb is - if you are walking at a degree of difficulty such that it is difficult to maintain a conversation, you are working your cardiovascular system. If you are sauntering at 2pm on a busy sidewalk on the way to get a coffee - you are not.
posted by scrittore at 11:18 AM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Can we be real, is "walking" really considered a form of legitimate exercise?

Beats the hell out of sitting.
posted by Etrigan at 11:20 AM on March 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


I enjoy the way looks and feels when I lift regularly, and biking home from work helps me shake off the work day, and I enjoy active activities like hiking and surfing for the connection I get with the wider world - but I have never once felt that endorphin rush people talk about. When I've had to run for sports practice my mood would vacillate between "maybe I'll get hit by lightning and this will be over" to "maybe my coach will get hit by lightning."
posted by kanewai at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm in my late fifties. It occurred to me a few years ago that my active lifestyle wasn't going to cut it as I get older. A lot of what people seem to associate with getting older I think are more generally problems of lack of use. We're not really equipped to be slackers when it comes to using the physical machinery. Use it or lose it really does apply and it gets harder to recapture your fitness level if you let it slide as you age.
I began hanging out on fitnessblender.com and got into the habit of daily fitness routines. I've never had a successful relationship with a gym, just does not compute on many levels. It's pretty cool what you can do on your own to get fit in 30 minutes a day or so without having to go to some stanky place.
I do kettlebells, yoga/pilates, speed work, yoga/pilates, rest day, rinse and repeat with a warmup routine I've crafted from many sources. Also bodyweight exercises and a weighted jump rope that pretty much uses you up pretty quickly. Add in a daily bike commute and I feel pretty fit. Maybe not Jack LaLanne fit but I'm going to give it my best shot to stay fit enough to enjoy every day.
posted by diode at 11:23 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Walking is better than nothing. A backpack with 5 to 20 pounds of weight in it will get your heart rate up too
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I hate all exercise that is "working out" for its own sake. Right now, my preferred regimen is 1-2 hrs of juggling every 2/3 days, yard work once a week and biking to run errands when the weather agrees.
posted by smidgen at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2016


I hate working out until about an hour after I'm done with it. I don't get a runner's high, I struggle every second of my runs. But once I'm showered and back at my desk, there's a marked difference in how I feel after a running lunch hour vs. a lunch hour spent sitting staring at a computer (which is what I do the other 7.5 hours a day as well). I wish I could bottle that bleh feeling because I frequently need tangible reminders of it in order to get me off my ass.

Protip though: Most people don't lose weight from just exercising. That comes from the changing up what you're eating part of the equation. Exercise is for overall health, changing your eating habits is for losing weight. If you want to increase both cardiovascular health and lose weight, most people have to change both diet and exercise. And never never EVER "eat back" your calories.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:28 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Only four candy bars a day. What's even the point of life!

Since I started working out hard every day, I have legit fantasies about ice cream sandwiches. I spent 5 minutes in the 7-11 parking lot just debating whether or not I really needed one or should just eat real food.

Upside of working out 6-7 days a week... I can and do end up eating ice cream sandwiches pretty frequently.

Fuck, now I want one...
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:35 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Over and above any considerations of performance for sports, exercise is the stimulus that returns our bodies to the conditions for which they were designed. Humans are not physically normal in the absence of hard physical effort. Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem - it is a thing we must do anyway, a thing without which there will always be problems. Exercise is the thing we must do to replicate the conditions under which our physiology was adapted, the conditions under which we are physically normal. In other words, exercise is substitute cave-man activity -- the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century." Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength
posted by disconnect at 11:40 AM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm a bit younger (early 30s), but after a lifetime of not taking care of myself I feel about 10 years older. I've never been able to lock into a regular exercise routine, although recently I've been trying to focus on it more. But consistency is still an issue. I'll go a week or two exercising regularly and then a bad day hits and I don't feel like exercising so I end up eating/drinking/smoking too much to fill the hole which means I feel awful the next day (so no exercising for a second day and then voila, within two days I'm off schedule for a month).

It's only recently hit me that even though I don't care much for my body and don't really identify with it, I'm stuck here whether I like it or not so I might as well take care of the thing. Hopefully the balance between exercise periods and existential shouting at the universe periods will tilt further towards exercise. I can see how it should work. Making it a reality is more of a struggle.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:41 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Second the fitnessblender recommendation. All sorts of routines for all sorts of folks. Full disclosure: I get runner's, exerciser's and all sort of high like a mofo. I eat, drink, and be merry to the tune of 5K calories a day during the active season. This past offseason I tried some of their meal recommendations and actually lost weight. It's best if you can tolerate a lot of garbanzos and avocados.
posted by valentinepig at 11:43 AM on March 8, 2016


I started to LOVE exercise once I realized that it didn't have to include an hour of cardio. Weight lifting + some interval cardio in between sets to keep my heart rate up is actually fun to me, and it gives me that endorphin rush that I always hoped for and never got from running. Plus it feels like I'm actually learning a useful skill (lift heavy things) rather than running on a treadmill to nowhere.

I have to wonder if this is the problem for a lot of other people. They think exercise = only a limited set of things and those things happen to be really boring and not very useful or productive, so there's no motivation aside from "get healthy."
posted by joan_holloway at 11:46 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


My thing was weightlifting. I had lost about 95lbs between 2012 (age 36) and 2014 but 2015 was a write off when I hurt my neck. Still down over 85lbs at age 40 and losing again. I just added two days a week of Hot Yoga to my three days a week of lifting to improve my core strength and flexibility. MFP is my spirit animal in this journey.

Still, the last four years have taught me that fitness really does begin in the kitchen and you can do this at any age if you are prepared to make the effort. 30+ years of eating crap and being lazy will take it's toll but it won't beat you unless you let it.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'll be 46 in 5 days, and : CYCLING CYCLING CYCLING CYCLING.

I could say a bunch more, but that's what did it for me. I was super fit from like 27 to about 31 -- like, crazy low body fat, sank like a stone in a pool, etc -- and then just Quit, mostly because burnout, and didn't do anything of consequence until I was about 41 and 250 pounds and remembered "hey, I used to love cycling as a teenager..."

I got a flat bar bike and started going on social rides. Then I got a nicer bike and signed up for some longer rides, eventually including the local two-day 165 mile ride to Austin that raises money for MS (riding with a brewery team, actually; I joke that I lost 40 pounds riding bikes and drinking beer, and it's actually true).

I got a lot smaller, which made me faster. I got a ridiculous go-fast bike. And one of my favorite things about the whole process is that, at an age when runners are often having to slow down and accept knee wear & etc., there are PLENTY of riders who are 10, 15, or even 20 years older than I am that are still faster than I am (and I'm not slow). That's comforting.

My path worked for me. I can't say it'll work for everyone, but if you find something that really gets its hooks into you, it stops being exercise and starts being fun. And right now, I'm legit annoyed that the weather today will cancel my usual Tuesday night group ride. :(
posted by uberchet at 12:01 PM on March 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm almost 48, and I was looking at a dog playing in the park the other day, and I was jealous of the animal's energy, how much it enjoyed running and playing. I can't do that. I take long walks, sure, but I never just run after things and enjoy dashing from place to place and jumping.

But then I thought, well, I'm still going to outlive that dog.
posted by maxsparber at 12:06 PM on March 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


gottabefunky: the gym that I used to be a member of had free(!) childcare. Granted, I think the minimum child age was 3? and the "care" was limited pretty much to making sure they didn't leave and letting them watch tv, or read or play with the few toys they had. But it was beyond convenient.
posted by nobeagle at 12:09 PM on March 8, 2016


I have to wonder if this is the problem for a lot of other people. They think exercise = only a limited set of things and those things happen to be really boring and not very useful or productive, so there's no motivation aside from "get healthy."

I think it's more that an entire fitness industry (and associated brand shills and bloggers) is shouting at you that you need to be doing everything all of the time, and therefore there's no point where you can feel fit and feel good about it.

You HAVE to run because that's how you get fit. You have to do HIIT because it's the efficient way to be fit. You HAVE to bike to work because that's how fit people get to work. You HAVE to do yoga to be flexible like a fit person. You HAVE to swim because swimming it is low impact workouts for fit people. You HAVE to lift heavy because fit people are strong. You HAVE to do core work because fit people have epic cores. You HAVE to do Crossfit because it's the only thing fit people do.

You then tack on fitness' cousin, nutrition, and more HAVEs come down the pipeline. You HAVE to eat 1g protein/kg because that's how fit people eat. You HAVE to reduce processed foods because fit people don't eat those. You HAVE to reduce all carbs because fit people aren't full of water. You HAVE to avoid dessert because fit people don't consume empty calories. You HAVE to eat organic because fit people don't have toxins.

I had a trainer at my gym approach me the other day to let me know that research showed that people who use trainers get 80% more out of their workout than working out alone. I had JUST finished a set of 6 pull-ups (my fourth that morning) and have felt really good about the V in my abs that's starting to show.

I let him know, politely, that what he thought was a sales pitch was in fact a bit of a sleight on my fitness level and yet another example of my gym telling me I am not good enough as is. He was totally floored and defensive about it.

I think people would be healthier and fitter if these two industries took a long walk off a short pier.

So many people think it is their responsibility to evangelize to others about the best possible way to achieve their goal, and I feel like one of the biggest obstacles people have to overcome is the feeling that you are an endless amount of workouts and willpower away from ever being "fit."
posted by scrittore at 12:10 PM on March 8, 2016 [23 favorites]


I started to LOVE exercise once I realized that it didn't have to include an hour of cardio. Weight lifting + some interval cardio in between sets to keep my heart rate up is actually fun to me, and it gives me that endorphin rush that I always hoped for and never got from running. Plus it feels like I'm actually learning a useful skill (lift heavy things) rather than running on a treadmill to nowhere.

Oh yeah, I don't do cardio at all but my heart rate (which I measure often) gets up to 160 through intense very low rest sets where you rotate muscle groups. Feels good enough. I hate running so it's better to just be doing something I love.

The scale today showed me a number in the 170s from 210 in November so that's cool.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:13 PM on March 8, 2016


Funny, I love cardio exercises and hate any kind of weight lifting.
posted by octothorpe at 12:20 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just think how strong we could be if we merged into one perfect being, octothorpe.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:42 PM on March 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


With my wife's newest dog, I was trying to make his long walks more time efficient by throwing in some jogging. The weather was cool enough, and I took it easy enough that I didn't need to consider it a workout - no sweat. A few months later, I could jog further for longer intervals and the weather grew warmer so I started dressing to sweat and assumed a shower at the end of it.

Eventually I realized, to my slight horror at the time, that I had become a runner. Instead of doing 3km in less time I was changing about my schedule so we'd get more time to run. For the weekends, multi-hour runs were a high priority goal.

I recently had to take a month off because of injury (sigh, stupid snowy sidewalks, and stupid old-man legs). Every time I've joing a gym before, my havit ended (even after seveal months) if I had a too busy week. I'd fall of that horse, and see no point in getting back on. For running tho? For getting out, for the terrain passing past you, for the planning of "Where will I go today?", for the dog at my side looking super happy, for the feeling like I'm 20 years younger ? I was fighting to keep myself from running until I thought it I'd recovered enough to safely start again.

But, it's not just the cardio, but the running. As mentioned, I've fallen off of gym routines routinely (ha!). Bike-commuting (about the same time duration as I run) is more fun than driving, but it's certainly not on-par with running. Biking on the stationary bike? I pushed myself through it while injured, but only really so I won't have cardio issues as I get back into running with my left feeling better. There's some awesome mt. bike trails that I run on. My only thought's towards biking it, are maybe as something to do with the kids. For me, my kick is running, not just cardio.
posted by nobeagle at 12:43 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dance. It's dance for me. And not your highfalutin' ballet. Oh no. Burlesque. Pole dance. The low-down sexy stuff. Because holy shit do you know how strong and lithe dancers are. Especially ones who can lift their entire body upside down by their arms.

For me it is belly dancing, middle eastern folk dancing, tap, and swing. I have no interest in formalized exercise, but put on some good music and I will happily work up a sweat.
posted by antimony at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Walking a lot is great! It strengthens muscles throughout your legs, back and core, it improves cardiovascular health and function, it improves hormone regulation, helps you sleep better...the list goes on! The potential shortcoming that walking has, as exercise, is that it may not get one's heart-rate quite up to an optimal point, but it is totally exercise.

One important thing that walking perversely does not do is contribute to is later life mobility. Running does. I sort of enjoy and sort of hate running but knowing that it is the single most effective way to ensure later life mobility is very motivating for me.
posted by srboisvert at 12:48 PM on March 8, 2016


I tried to go back to bicycling a couple of years back, because it's one of the few forms of exercise I genuinely like, and it can be fit into a regular day by biking places that I might have driven to. And I discovered that biking absolutely murders my knees now, between age and weight. My knees have to come up too far and bend too sharply.
posted by tavella at 12:48 PM on March 8, 2016


Funny, I love cardio exercises and hate any kind of weight lifting.
posted by octothorpe at 12:20 PM on March 8 [+] [!]


Just think how strong we could be if we merged into one perfect being, octothorpe.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:42 PM on March 8 [+] [!]


Everybody thinks that teleportation will solve all their problems; that's how weird science happens.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:50 PM on March 8, 2016


I've been generally weird and tight and tired and weird, and that combined with this thread made me finally put in this fucking yoga DVD an ex gave me like 2 years ago, and holy cow!

I'm going to a class tomorrow or Thursday. I'm 35. I'm too young to feel like this.
posted by Automocar at 1:04 PM on March 8, 2016




I tried to go back to bicycling a couple of years back, because it's one of the few forms of exercise I genuinely like, and it can be fit into a regular day by biking places that I might have driven to. And I discovered that biking absolutely murders my knees now, between age and weight. My knees have to come up too far and bend too sharply.

I can't speak to your specific situation but, in general, if somebody told me this I'd wonder about their bike fit and technique. Novice or casual riders often have their seat too low and tend to use gears that are too big. Those things are fixable.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:43 PM on March 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Hmm. Well, it was a bike I used to be able to ride without problem. But maybe I need to make the seat higher. I generally like to be able to balance on my toes at a stop without sliding out of the saddle. More secure feeling, especially now that I'm older (my sense of balance has really gone to shit since I turned 40. Even 10 years ago I felt safe enough balancing on the very top of a stepladder to change a high light bulb, and now I feel slightly wobbly even two steps down with my knees braced against it.)
posted by tavella at 1:55 PM on March 8, 2016


tavella, have you tried recumbent bikes? They're a lot easier on the knees and you can go really fast on them. The fastest guys in my cycling club use them.
posted by domo at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2016


Finding a gym with childcare was a game-changer for me, no lie. And getting over the nagging little voice that I had to work out before work or during lunch or else I'm setting myself up to fail was a game-changer too.

My PM routine 3 nights a week is "Put the kiddo to bed, kiss my husband goodbye, go work out from 9-10 p.m., then take a long, lovely shower and saunter out of the locker room in my pajamas." I like not sitting in front of a computer screen and if I'm going to watch TV, at least I'm burning 10 calories a minute on the elliptical while I do.

This week's projects: Put together more workout playlists for my phone; start bringing my gym bag to work so I can just change after work and go through dinner/violin practice/books/bed with the family already committed to the gym; figure out how my wireless bluetooth headphones work so I can use them to rock out on the ergometer. I used to row and row in college and I want to see if I can get back to that.

Working out as a 43-year-old is the closest I get to feeling like I'm back in the (much slimmer, more active) body of my twentysomething self, for those minutes of exertion and pushing through to the next level. I try to focus on that and not on all the ways my 43-year -old body looks and performs differently.
posted by sobell at 2:00 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I did it in my late 40s and then I overexercised, hurt myself, and now have chronic pain and need to find out how I can work out gently without adding to the pain/damage.

Pace yourselves, people. Just because you were a bundle of energy in your 20s doesn't mind you can just burst out into action now.
posted by kandinski at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm burning 10 calories a minute on the elliptical

Beware calorie burn estimates from machines.
posted by Monochrome at 2:53 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Beware calorie burn estimates from machines.

So are you telling me this out of a genuine desire to be helpful? Before you posted, did you stop to consider why I bother paying attention to this metric, or how I use it for motivation, or whether I've done my own research and I just enjoy the feeling of accretive progress as I sweat on the machine?
posted by sobell at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


Sobell, you had me at "saunter out of the locker room in my pajamas." BRILLIANT IDEA.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:55 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


So are you telling me this out of a genuine desire to be helpful? Before you posted, did you stop to consider why I bother paying attention to this metric, or how I use it for motivation, or whether I've done my own research and I just enjoy the feeling of accretive progress as I sweat on the machine?

The problem is that if you take machine's calorie estimates seriously you may over eat and undo any possible weight loss you have earned by over eating while you think you are under your allowed calorie total. It is a pretty legit caution as exercise machine manufacturers are even worse than prepared food packagers for fudging numbers in directions that serve their interests and not yours.

If you are counting calories count your work - time on the machine and intensity level - and find conservative estimates on the web for calories burned. If you are just keeping 'score' count whatever the hell you feel like.
posted by srboisvert at 3:58 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hate exercise but man it turns out I like the results of doing stupid things with heavy weights. I really hate sweating and I hate cardio thanks to my asthma.

But yeah, in the last year I lost 110 lbs and did it via diet and a little walking. Didn't start going to the gym until November and slowly raised my numbers just doing a small set of classic exercises.

After I'm done working out I'm grumpy until I have my protein bar and my water and even then some days after kicking my butt I'm wiped for the rest of the day.
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:59 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just because you were a bundle of energy in your 20s

Citation needed
posted by Automocar at 4:18 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Biking; about anything within four miles radius, and if it will fit in a backpack (groceries, auto parts, hardware/home repair stuff); the bike is the transportation. This also spares me the OMG factor of our modern roadways.

Clue: quality Kevlar tires; in CO that means Schwalbe Marathon studded snow tires for the winter season(s). No punctures, no flats, high pressure; all the stuff that means more time riding and less time wrestling discouragement from equipment.

Weight lifting is never more than five pound barbells. Rep-o-rama. Having a muscle tear, or a tendon get harmed big time; no thanks. Five pounders.

Stretching. As much as possible. I am sure that a lot of the stretches and stretch holds have actual Yoga names now. A couple of times a month; an entire exercise/fitness session is nothing but stretching.

And a nice blood oxygen meter/pulse meter from Amazon. Those things are so cool; and so affordable now. A poor man's fitbit indeed.

What do people want when they are old, wealthy, and have all the resources they could ever dream of? Health.

An old Schwarzenegger quote from a Parade magazine in the 80's: "It hurts like hell; but I have to do it everyday".
posted by buzzman at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm with antimony on this one. I do 20 mins of HIIT to get the unpleasantness over with and then I do a bunch of dance drills which may or may not provide much exercise.

I find all drills fairly tedious because I'm just simply easily bored. But HIIT is more boring than shoulder shimmies.

In the end it doesn't matter if I love it or hate it, I have to do it. The benefits are not what happens while I'm exercising, it's the other 23 hours of the day when I can enjoy a clean head, reasonably not painful muscles, strength etc.
posted by tel3path at 4:53 PM on March 8, 2016


Just left my job and have all this new time on my hands. Ride my bike for whatever errands, the weather's warming up, can hit the gym in the middle of the day when nobody's in the squat rack and life is goooood.
posted by indubitable at 5:13 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


My mom's side of the family is full of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. I started working out in my 30s, but got really serious about it when my mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

After doing various forms of cardio for years, I started Couch to 5k a few years ago and fell in love with running. My dream is to someday do a marathon, and I found Ronnie Haydon (linked above) tremendously inspiring.

A barre studio opened near my office last year and I started taking classes there; it's an amazing core workout and fun as well. I don't like most classes, but there's minimal talking and the music is loud to distract you from all the exertion.
posted by mogget at 5:19 PM on March 8, 2016


As soon as someone tells me how to put together a workout that includes some hitting a heavy bag, doesn't include me being miserable and in pain at the 3 minute mark, and doesn't include going to a gym where people sneer at fatties*, I'll exercise and until then, fuck it I'm eating cheesecake.

Swimming is out - because it gets cold and sneering at fatties in bathing suits.
Dance is out, because sneering and pain.
Martial arts is out because sneering and crappy dojos who charge too much and make you start over every time you change schools because you move.
Biking is out because bikes are expensive.
Running is out because pain.

* I have never had a good gym experience in my life, my friends have never had a good gym experience, please don't tell me about YOUR amazing gym where they don't sneer at fatties. every gym does it.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:20 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The "I feel *so* much better after a workout!" feeling just does not happen to me. If I work out, I just feel tired and bitchy and angry afterwards. Every single time.

Absolutely... my wife and daughter both love going to the gym and going swimming, while I loathe every minute of it. I do it because middle age, but I hate it.

The only time exercise and I ever got on was when I cycled to work for 3 years. 10 miles each way, every day, saved me a whole lot of money on fares, took less time, and kept me fit.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 6:02 PM on March 8, 2016


This is the best AskMe thread ever. Last night, I was thinking about the pain in my hip last night and thinking about how at this point, I know it's not going away. I have severe joint issues in my toes; I love love love the spin classes I've been taking but it's also causing me foot pain. (two doctors, two completely different recommendations for my "you're too young" arthritis). Middle age is strange.
posted by armacy at 6:40 PM on March 8, 2016


So are you telling me this out of a genuine desire to be helpful?

Yes, of course. I don't understand what you're implying. Calories per minute sounded unusually precise to me so I wondered if it was a number from a machine. Then I thought of a pitfall I had encountered. I have seen several people take machines' estimates at face value and not realize that the machines might not be taking in to account different calorie burns due to weight or the machine shows gross calories (or whatever the term is that includes calories people burn just by existing) or the calculation is simply wrong. There are multiple studies showing that machines' estimates can be inaccurate by significant amounts. In the spirit of everyone else sharing tips, I wanted to include this tip.
posted by Monochrome at 7:32 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, of course. I don't understand what you're implying.

Basically as soon as anyone says what they do to work out, someone will pop in to tell them they're doing it wrong. In particular a certain type of workout person really loves telling other people that they're absolutely not ever even close to burning enough calories. Regardless of whether the first person even really gives a shit about calories or losing weight.

You've accidentally managed to say a thing in good faith that a lot of internet jerkheads say in bad faith, that's all.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:48 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


You exist! You people exist! I thought it was just me! (Well, okay, the world is a big place, I assumed there were others, but I didn't know there were so many others). Until now I've only met "I love exercise, it improves your quality of life so much!" people and "I hate exercise and I have a list of reasons. Also, I don't exercise, so my list of reasons just sounds like justification for not exercising" people.

As a teenager and in my early 20s, exercise made me stressed and angry. As in I would go into a gym for one of those free trials or whatever smiling and happy and come out pissed off and ready to fight. And I don't mean "full of adrenaline", I mean regular old angry.

Then there was a decade where I didn't do anything, really, except dancing at parties, and even then I tended to dance a whole lot for 30 minutes, not for 8 hours.

And then a few years ago I started doing karate, and about a year ago I added weightlifting to the mix. On the plus side, I discovered that exercise no longer makes me angry. And my shoulders got a bit bigger.

On the minus side, I haven't experienced any other benefits. The world tells me I should feel better, more alert, happier, more energetic. I should be experiencing physical and emotional benefits. But, nope. I feel the same as when I didn't exercise, except that now a few hours of each week are diverted from "playing fun videogames" or "watching fun movies" to "being exhausted and/or in pain at a gym".

I keep doing it because I want to live longer, but that's it. I haven't experienced anything else good about it. Glad it works for other people, sad it doesn't work for me.

FritoKAL: "* I have never had a good gym experience in my life, my friends have never had a good gym experience, please don't tell me about YOUR amazing gym where they don't sneer at fatties. every gym does it."

Make you a deal: I won't tell you that my gym doesn't do it. In exchange, you don't tell me that my gym does it.
posted by Bugbread at 7:57 PM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


42 year old reporting in. I'm with you folks who hate exercise. It's a tedious chore. I hate being sweaty. I get exercise induced asthma if I do anything high intensity like running. I can't "just choose a sport you like" because I don't enjoy sports. I've never experienced an endorphin rush, even when I was young and fit, and had PE in high school every day.

I am a potato. I enjoy computer games, reading, and Lego.

But lately I've been pretty unhappy about the generous midsection I've developed and I've been wearing a step tracker and getting up from my desk once an hour to walk about 500 steps. After the time change this weekend, I'm going to go for longer walks in the evening.

I really wish TECHNOLOGY would invent the cyberpunk technology where I could plug my brain into the internet to do things while my body exercised, so I wouldn't have to think about it.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:29 AM on March 9, 2016


Tavella, I'll join the choir noting that (a) if it feels like your knees are going too high and (b) you can put your toes on the ground without getting off the seat, your bike fit is way off.

I get the need for a secure feel, but your tradeoff here is bad biomechanics and knee pain. See about a good fit, or (as domo notes) a recumbent.

Fleebnork:

"I really wish TECHNOLOGY would invent the cyberpunk technology where I could plug my brain into the internet to do things while my body exercised, so I wouldn't have to think about it."

I think that's why cycling appeals to me, at least how I do it. I ride fast in groups, so you really have to focus the whole time. And why I absolutely cannot abide using an indoor trainer. :(
posted by uberchet at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


PE in high school every day

I hated PE in school and was probably always going to hate PE, but I wonder if some of my issues wouldn't be better with better PE. I feel like my PE classes had basically zero instruction in fitness and instead we learned the rules to a bunch of games then had one time a year where they made us run a mile and do a sit and reach and the teacher declared me unfit and then we were done. I was never taught how to run and apparently to this day I look like an idiot when I do. I was never taught what sort of stretching routine would increase my flexibility, they just made me sit and reach with a box and marked it as a zero. I'm a 32 year old man having to learn these things from the internet despite having theoretically taken classes in them for years.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:41 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


> but I ask my body to go any faster and it turns into Paul Rudd picking up that stuff in Wet Hot American Summer.

I had no idea what you were talking about so I looked it up. Hilarious!
posted by funkiwan at 7:49 AM on March 9, 2016


"... I wonder if some of my issues wouldn't be better with better PE. I feel like my PE classes had basically zero instruction in fitness and instead we learned the rules to a bunch of games

I have had the very same thought many times. When I was in high school we only had to take one year's worth of PE, so of course I did all freshman year to get it over with and never have to do it again. Exactly once during that year the coach asked if I felt good or any stronger from the daily pushups that were part of the warm up. Otherwise it was all team sport after team sport for which us skinny closet-gays got picked last every time. So I stayed skinny and actually underweight into my late 20s when I finally had enough and shelled out for a gym and a few trainer sessions to teach me what to do.

I don't know what PE is like in schools now but if I could've had it different, someone would've said "hey, clearly team sports aren't gonna be your thing. so let's try something else, how about you learn some weight training. Or hey, you've got a long lean runner's body, you'd be good at track." There should be individual encouragement and options. (The week or so we did track in gym class I was ok with - no team crap, just me, my lane, and go as fast as I can. Oh, and hey, lots of standing around relaxing while the rest of the class ran their heats.)
posted by dnash at 7:59 AM on March 9, 2016


Yeah, PE in school is such a missed opportunity. One of the things I love about going to physical therapy as part of my surgery rehab is learning how my body works and learning proper form. Obviously a frazzled high school PE teacher can't give each student tons of individual assessment and instruction, but general tips on form, gait, stretching, and basically how to exercise safely would be so helpful.

I mean, the E in PE stands for Education but it's never been that in my experience. I always thought I was bad at physical stuff because I couldn't run the full mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. If only someone had said "hey, this is hard and you feel like you're dying, but if you wanted to get better at it you could, and here's how."
posted by misskaz at 8:30 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Local Hilton has gym memberships. And like most hotel/motel gyms; it is *empty* like a scene from an odd movie. And because it is always soooo empty; No stink. No judgement. No sweaty filthy machines. Hot tub, pool, free weights, silly machine devices, scale, mirrors for form, nice view. YMMV. Gets me a free parking pass for downtown also. Costs less than local YMCAs. 24/7 hours of service. Made for two or three hour sessions of proper Roman/Greek fitness trips. OK; I guess clothes have to be worn; but otherwise. Ahhhh, yah.

Local hotel/motel facilities; something to consider for phone calls.
posted by buzzman at 8:55 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always thought I was bad at physical stuff because I couldn't run the full mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

Yes! The worst! What unconscionable idiot decided that a tiny child should just be able to flat-out run a mile, with no warmup, basically straight from seated (and usually either immediately after eating or hours and hours after eating), and with no idea of what "pacing" was.

My dad, a serious runner, told us straight up that it was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard, and not ever to worry about our "Presidential Fitness" mile times.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:19 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Re: walking, after my divorce, I didn't have a car and fewer places to go, so I walked, briskly, on weekends. Like, miles and miles. Downtown DC to Silver Spring, for example. That, coupled with a lighter diet (less inclined to cook big, fancy meals for myself), saw me drop a bunch of weight and start to feel some cardio fitness. So, walking is def. exercise.

Re: exercise in general, I am on the "it's boring/unpleasant" train, but I've been holding myself to do a day of 30 minutes of weight work followed by two days of 30-minute stationary bike exercise. Is it fun? Umm, not particularly. But, besides enjoying a bit more strength and tone, I get real satisfaction at just having done it. For most of my adult life, I've been really bad at maintaining any kind of consistent effort in my leisure activities, flitting from one thing to the next when I get distracted or bored and rarely getting good at anything. Here, the knowledge that I'm exercising consistently is at least as important as the physical benefits of the exercise.

All that said, thanks to everyone who's posted and offered such good tips and links. Y'all rock.
posted by the sobsister at 10:47 AM on March 9, 2016


I firmly believe that everyone should incorporate some kind of strength training in their lives. It's good for your muscles, it's good for your bones, it's good for your cardiovascular system, and it's good for your metabolism.

But more than that I the best exercise is whatever exercise you'll stick with.

For me, it's lifting. I don't really like lifting but I like the results enough to keep doing it. It's hard to motivate myself to get up and do it and I'm a home-based employee with a nice set of weights in my basement. I don't like it when I'm doing it and I don't feel better after. I use programs that feature heavy weights, compound lifts, and low reps because that takes the least amount of time. The next day all my muscles hurt, it sucks but it's not too bad (recovery gets trained just like everything else). The 2nd day though, the 2nd day is great. I feel strong!

I've gotten in much better shape, to the point where I'm in better shape than I think I have ever been at 35 years old. It's nice to be able to help people lift heavy things and it's fun to notice that the thing they're having such a hard time picking up to put in their truck is pretty easy for me. I like that tasks that used to a major PITA are a lot easier now since they take a lot less effort. I worked really hard on my form, especially for squats so now I lift everything with much better form without even realizing that I'm doing it which I think will pay off huge in terms of wear on my knees when I'm old.

Especially after doing deadlifts, I notice it more if something I'm reading or watching or whatever mentions how much a thing weights and I think to myself, "Hmmm, I lifted 325Lbs 5 times on Friday. That thing weights 300Lbs, I should be able to pick that up." It's weird how many of those things look like things that no human could lift and that part is fun. For that reason and that there is something viscerally satisfying about picking massive weights up off the floor mean that deadlifts are the only lift that comes close to being something I enjoy.

I want to be to be active for as long as humanly possible so my plan is to work my way up to deadlifting 400Lbs with the other major lifts in the same performance range by the time I'm 40 and then just add reps until my body starts to fail and then decrease reps and wait as my body forces me to until I die or upload my brain to a computer.
posted by VTX at 12:07 PM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


You guys are much more generous to your young PE student selves than I am. If they had bothered to put the Education in PE I probably would've hated it even more. As it was I could just suit up and mosey around the court/field/track for a while, then change clothes again at the end. Boring and unpleasant, but at least easy to ignore after the ignominious Selecting of the Teams at the start of class. If they had decided we were all going to listen to lectures on proper stretching or running or basketball technique as well, young Bugbread would have felt it went from "boring" to "excruciating".

Also...uh...am I the only person here who took gym by correspondence in high school? Because that was fucking awesome. All I had to do was learn the rules to golf, tennis, and basketball (I think), write two or three essays, and take a test, and I cleared an entire year out of my school schedule to take more art classes. Best fucking thing ever, gym by correspondence.
posted by Bugbread at 3:40 PM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I really wish TECHNOLOGY would invent the cyberpunk technology where I could plug my brain into the internet to do things while my body exercised, so I wouldn't have to think about it."

I think that's why cycling appeals to me, at least how I do it. I ride fast in groups, so you really have to focus the whole time. And why I absolutely cannot abide using an indoor trainer. :(
How to gamify indoor training on the bike with TECHNOLOGY:

1) a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer
2) a Zwift or TrainerRoad app/subscription

you're welcome.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:31 PM on March 9, 2016


My problem is that not only do I not get a shot of endorphins by exercising, I *do* get pleasure from bailing out of a scheduled exercise time. I.e., grimly looking forward to suffering, and then deciding for some reason I can't do it gives me a big shot of relief and procrastinating pleasure.
posted by tavella at 6:54 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of the same way but the thing about weights is, if you skip a workout, the delayed onset muscle soreness from the next one will be a LOT worse and I'll have lost some progress.

So my options become:
1. Go down there and lift the stupid weights
2. Punish my future self with extra DOMS
3. Give it up forever

I'm terrified of becoming a feeble old man so #3 isn't an option, #2 is really a dick-move to my future self so something has to be really important for me to skip a workout.
posted by VTX at 6:14 AM on March 10, 2016


I go to a gym with a sizable population of...I hesitate to say 'elderly people' because they can kick my ass. It helps a lot because there is not a lot of judgement, everyone is really friendly. It also gives me hope that I'll age better if I keep this up. Another thing I do that helps keep me motivated is play games. I'm playing Zombies, Run! by Six to Start right now and I'm having a blast. I even enable the zombie chase option more often than not now.
posted by domo at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2016


lonefrontranger's suggestion sounds great until you realize that a Wahoo Kickr costs more than most people's bicycles. I'm sure it's awesome, but if I'm getting an additional $1500 biking expense past my wife, it's gonna be wheels or a Di2 upgrade, not a trainer.
posted by uberchet at 8:52 AM on March 10, 2016


uberchet, you can always use the $150 power pod ant+ dongle or any speed sensor that pairs with a kinetic trainer.

the kickr merely allows the app to control the power output of the trainer. you can still use these apps with a speed sensor and/or virtual power with much cheaper setups.

the kickr however is the only thing in thirty years I've found that makes me look forward to trainer sessions. it was that or spend the money on a power meter.

also you can now get a kickr snap for $800. still expensive but much less so, and you don't have to remove your rear wheel to use it.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:34 PM on March 10, 2016


Finally started back doing the stationary bike at the gym and it's just wonderful get my blood going again. I've got a serious endorphin buzz going right now from seven miles on the bike and my back seems to be happy about it so I'll keep doing it. Still bummed that I can't run but I can live with biking and swimming.
posted by octothorpe at 4:58 AM on March 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ah the mythical endorphin buzz! I'll never give up my quest for one, but I don't think it exists, for me.

I truly hate working out, it's stupid and awful. I feel good afterwards, for 2 reasons (1) it's over and (2) look at this fat lumpy girl who is still up 3-4 times a week at the ass crack of dawn weeping her way through her push-ups. Even though it's horrible, it's still kind of empowering - after the fact.

I'll keep doing it because it's important the way brushing your teeth is important. I have too many things working against me genetically (diabetes 2! hypertension! mental illnesses!) not to try to take my health in my hands and do something to fend off those things. But I'll never pretend it's remotely enjoyable or fun. (I find steady-state cardio such as walking or the elliptical to be enjoyable, but it doesn't give me the strength gains or aesthetic improvements that body weight exercises do.)
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:49 PM on March 22, 2016


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