my weight loss journey part 3 – the exercise

  1. read my weight loss journey part 1 – the background here.
  2. read my weight loss journey part 2 – the diet here.

In addition to starting South Beach, I also started exercising – something I had hardly ever done before.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just went to the gym on campus and started trying stuff.

At first, I would jog for 10 minutes, get on the bike for 10 minutes, and use the elliptical for 10 minutes.  I had to alternate because I couldn’t do any of those things for longer than 10 minutes.  Eventually, though, I worked my way up to 15 minutes, 20, 25, 30 minutes.  Pretty much all I did at first was cardio, although I also started going to the fitness classes that were offered at our gym (some cardio, some strength).  Remember that I was starting my sophomore year in college when I started this journey, so I was fortunate to have the on campus gym to attend.  I tried just about every fitness class I could take; some I liked and others I didn’t.  During my three years at Tech I did power yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, hip hop, ballet, step, and weights classes.  I even took a weight lifting class in the spring after I started exercising as an elective but it was a joke because you were just supposed to work out on your own – they didn’t really teach you proper form.

During that first year and a half I mostly just ran and ran and ran and ran.  I got to where I could run 30 – 45 minutes straight.  However, some combination of increasing my distance and speed too quickly along with doing squats improperly (like I said – my weightlifting class didn’t teach proper form), I injured my knee.  And I just kept running on it all summer and all fall until it got to where I could hardly go up or down stairs.  I went to a physical trainer who diagnosed me with patella tendonitis and told me I needed to stop running, at least for a while.

my first 5-K, May 2007 (a word of advice: don’t eat bacon, eggs, and oatmeal right before running in a race – you’ll be visiting it again at the end…not that I would have experienced that or anything…)

State Farm 4 mile run, November 2008

So then I discovered the pool.  At first it was comical.  Being a runner I thought the pool would be easy, but I didn’t know how to properly swim, all I could do was doggy paddle.  The first day I was exhausted from trying to keep my head out of the water.  But I got some goggles, and with practice I was soon swimming for 30 or more minutes at a time.  Swimming became my go-to exercise, along with other group fitness classes that weren’t hard on my knee, for the next year or so.

Over Christmas break and during the summer I was able to use the YMCA in Springfield.  They had some sort of deal for college students to pay just for those few months.  That way I was able to keep up my exercise without paying a year-round gym membership fee.

Right after I graduated, I got married.  We lived in an apartment complex with a little gym.  I really didn’t work out much that first year since it was also my first year of teaching and I was exhausted and spending all my time on school work.  But when I did work out, I just used the elliptical at the gym, went for walks or bike rides around our neighborhood, or did Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

my first bike – right after we got married (Michael taught me how to ride a bike the previous summer then we bought a bike after I moved to Lexington)

After we moved into our house I knew I needed to get back to exercising and that we needed to find a gym.  We started going to Healthworx (I talked about that here) and I started running again.  I did a variety of classes, most combined both cardio and strength training.  On the days I didn’t do one of those classes, I ran.  And again, like before, a few months in I pushed too hard too fast and my knee starting hurting.  I knew I needed another option, but Healtworx didn’t have a pool.  The only other thing I could think of that would be good cardio without being weight bearing was spinning.  So in January of this year I tentatively took my first spinning class – it was insanely hard, I thought I was going to die, and I was hooked.  So until we moved, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I was at the gym at 5:15 to get to my spin class.  (By the way, spinning is group cycling class that uses special stationary bikes, not spinning as in yarn like one of my students thought – hilarious!)  I also tried some other classes like Zumba and Legion Fitness (like P90X or Insanity – super hard).

my spin bike

We’ve joined a gym since moving to Bowling Green and I’m still trying to find my groove.  They have a pool and spin classes; I’ve already taken advantage of both, plus lots of other group fitness classes that I’ve been trying out.  I’m really liking the Zumba classes at my new gym so that may be my newest fitness crush.

As you can see, I’ve tried tons of things.  I’ll give just about anything at least one chance.  If I try it and don’t like it then I find something else.  My best advice when it comes to exercising is to find what you enjoy.  There is no need to be miserable trying to be a runner if you really hate running – just do something else!  If you like to dance, dance.  If you like to swim, swim.  Do what you love.  If you do something you hate you will resent it and want to quit.  I’ve found that for myself I really need to take group fitness classes, especially for my weight training, because I need the guidance and the accountability.

It is my opinion that you need to do both cardio and weight training.  I do cardio almost every day but I also try to get at least two strength workouts in per week.  For one, strength training helps you build muscle which in turn helps you burn more fat.  Also, weight bearing exercise helps strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.  My goal is at least 30 minutes of exercise, 6 days a week.  Sunday is my off day.  Many days I do more than 30 minutes, especially when I take classes since they are at least 45 minutes, but I always aim for at least 30 minutes.

So find what works for you and get moving!

(keep reading: part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7)

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