on finding exercise

I feel pretty good about some of the stuff I accomplished over the last thirty days. They’re fitness related, so feel free to ignore this post as it’ll be mostly about that.

Like most people, I struggle to exercise. Partly because it’s simply not fun. Partly because I live far enough from a gym for it to be inconvenient enough for me to not go. Partly because it’s difficult for me to exercise at my house, since that’s also where I work, sleep, and do everything else [the curse of working at home!]. But I’ve been using this site Darebee for the last thirty days and it’s been pretty successful.

Almost all of the workouts require no equipment, which is something I need, since I don’t have any. And I do think that’s a big barrier for a lot of people. It has been for me, anyway. We get to thinking that you need equipment of some kind to exercise, whether it be a treadmill or simply a five pound weight. So this was a positive thing for me to stumble upon.

It also makes working out a challenge and a game, in a sense. Gamefication is one of those annoying buzzwords marketing people use, but it works really well as a motivator, and this site’s captured that pretty well. I encourage you to just kind of dig around, but I’ll explain what I did this month as well.

But first I’ll talk about my own health and body for a bit.

I was 5’11” and 150lbs from the age of 15 to about 25. Sometimes my weight would fluctuate. There were times I weighed as much as 165 and other times where I weighed as little as 135. And, yeah, I’d say both are underweight, though 165 is closer to what I should be. But, for the most part, I weighed about 150 pounds. That was my body size for so long that I still think of myself as that size, despite how time has changed me. I also never used to exercise and would eat like a snake. Which is to say, I’d consume about two days worth of food during one meal and then not eat for a day or two. Part of this is because I never had money, which meant I never had food, and part was because I have two brothers who would eat all the food our mother would make if you weren’t there to grab your share. So we all eat fast and we eat huge quantities, eating like this is our last chance to taste food for months.

Over the last three years, I’ve gained what I would consider a lot of weight. I’m not sure what I weigh at this moment, but I’m guessing I’m somewhere in the 180s. I’ve weighed as much as 195, at my heaviest, which, to me, is kind of a frightening number.

Someone reading this will probably laugh at that number or scoff at it, but when you gain 30 to 40 pounds in a short time period, it’s pretty alarming, even if you started out being pretty underweight for your height.

Anyrate, I gained most of this weight in about one year, and I know when it happened.

I began working as a temp at a Wells Fargo. I only worked there for about three months, but it coincided with a big bout of depression, possibly strongly associated with that job. I began gaining weight and not doing much activity. But I still ate the same way I had before. And, you know, getting older, my metabolism changed. A big reason it changed was because I had grown into a very static and sedentary lifestyle.

During college and after, I tended to walk everywhere because I didn’t have a car. When I lived in Korea and Ireland, I walked at least two miles every day. Typically, I walked much more than that. I also tended to stand a lot during the day, as my jobs were ones that required you to be on your feet.

So transitioning to a position where I sat for eight hours combined with poor eating habits and a big bout of depression, I started gaining weight.

It happens.

I quit Wells Fargo and began freelancing, which led to some different problems. Things went well at first, and then they didn’t, and I became significantly more depressed as I was in a state of abject poverty while I would sit at my computer for hours and hours every day trying to find work and get it finished in time to make rent or have something to eat.

Things got worse when I became a contract worker for a digital marketing company. I sort of became the center of that company, in that I was communicating with our programmers in India, our designers in the Philippines, and our US satellite employees. I had a bit more money, but this job ruined my life. I was at my desk for sometimes as long as 18 hours a day. I would be up early to speak to India and the Philippines and I’d be up late talking to them. In between, I was managing employees spread over three timezones, and trying to get a startup company off the ground.

I was underpaid, overworked, and my health was suffering. Both mental and physical. This is when I gained the bulk of the weight.

I’m a little proud to say it’s the only time I’ve ever really let an employer take advantage of me, but, at the same time, it sucks to be taken advantage of, so it’s not really something to be proud of.

Anyrate, I quit after six months, or something like that. I joined a gym and was pretty good about getting there every day or every other day, despite it being inconveniently far.

But my current job makes for a lot of travel and as I go on, the travel increases, so a gym membership makes less and less sense and I was able to get there fewer times every month.

So it’s been difficult to find a workout program that worked for me, but Darebee seems like a good fit for me.

Over the last 30 days, I did nearly 2,000 pushups, 10,000 kicks, 10,000 punches, and did static planks for nearly 38 minutes.

A lot of other workouts went along with those numbers, but I think those numbers, by themselves, are pretty significant.

The kicks and punches especially. Man, when I first looked at what that program was, it seemed easy. Kicking and punching? That’s almost nothing. Well, sure, if you’re only doing a couple dozen. Try doing a couple hundred a day every day. Today, for example, I did 1,000 of each.

The kicking and punching was because of the Bruce Lee challenge. Essentially, it gives you a set amount of things to do every day. You can spread them out as much as you want, but I generally did them all in one go, because that works best for my schedule.

I think it’s probably best to just do one of these programs at a time, but I was also doing the Core challenge, the Push Ups challenge, and the Foundation Program. In addition, I also completed the Daily Dares every day for the last 30 days.

As you can see if you click on those, there is often an overlap between the Bruce Lee, Core, and Push Ups challenges, as each requires a certain amount of push ups every day. With that overlap, I just combined them. So like, for today, I didn’t do the 120 push ups for the Bruce Lee, the 120 for the Push Ups challenge, and the 60 for the Core challenge as separate things. Instead, I did 120 pushups, because that encompasses the other challenges within it.

And, man, I cannot imagine doing 300 pushups in a day. Especially considering how many pushups came before today.

It’s exhausting.

Anyrate, I thought I’d just share this. It’s been really useful to me. I don’t necessarily recommend doing a lot of those programs simultaneously, because it really is exhausting and challenging. They all begin pretty easy so it’s not hard to do them all at once, but when you get to the final week–it’s tough. I mean, just doing 1,000 punches and kicks took me over an hour.

But I plan on continuing with this. There are thousands of individual workouts to choose from. I found the choices a bit overwhelming, which is why I chose to begin with the programs and challenges, but you can use filters to narrow things down.

I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight doing this for a month, which was certainly part of the goal, but I can tell you that I’ve become much more physically fit and my body’s shape is changing. Those two things are important first steps to weight loss. And weight loss will come, though I doubt I’ll ever weigh 150 pounds again. Partly because I just shouldn’t be that size. I never should have been. If you knew me in high school or college, you may remember being able to see my ribcage through my shirt.

It’s not a good look.

My target weight is, I think, like 170 pounds. I imagine that would be a good size for me.

But that’s the other thing–size. Your body’s shape and size are more important than any arbitrary weight number. Muscle weighs more than fat–we all know this–so you may look thinner when you’re actually heavier. That’s a big reason why I very much doubt I’ll ever be 150 pounds again. I was a seriously thin kid for a long time and there’s never been a time in my life that someone would have described me as muscular. But I’m certainly carrying a lot more muscle now than I was three years ago.

But, yeah, I’m happy to have accomplished this. The trick, now, is to stick with it. It works great for me because I spend so much time without a lot of space or time to exercise, so fitting in high intensity short workouts is really what I needed.

Hopefully this can be a resource to you as well. I recommend it.

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