So to summarize I have always been thin and in fairly good shape until I entered the world of 9-5 and hit some sort of metabolism slowdown.
April 17, 2007 9:57 AM   Subscribe

So to summarize I have always been thin and in fairly good shape until I entered the world of 9-5 and hit some sort of metabolism slowdown.

So to summarize I have always been thin and in fairly good shape until I entered the world of 9-5 and hit some sort of metabolism slowdown. Oh also I quit smoking and promptly gained ~15 pounds, not that I regret it. So now Im 5'8 and 150, not overweight, but I can't fit in the clothes I use to wear - a downer and I now have a tummy and hips that are much larger than before. I am not a dieter, never have been, Im hungry I eat and I definitely snack. I try to eat healthier snacks, but Im just not the type to cut out all fats and eat broiled chicken everyday. I have done pilates for almost 2 years previously, but since moving have not been doing it (liked my old instructor, new one at the gym not so hot). I joined a gym, but even though it is 5 mins from my house I don't really like going, I had never been a member at a gym before and feel uncomfortable even knowing how to use the equipment properly. (I only use the treadmill and walk fast and increase the incline real high). I have hand weights at home and am thinking maybe I should do pilates by a video or maybe aerobics. What kind of videos have worked for you guys? I'd really love to loose the tummy for the summer, but I guess to summarize I've been lazy! I must leave the house by 6:50 AM and am usually home by 6:20 PM. I have tried working out in the AM and PM and stuck to neither. Am I just being lazy? Do any of you motivated exercise people have any good tips? Thanks in advance for any help
posted by Carialle to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, my pilates teacher says pilates videos are stupid, because you can't properly do pilates and watch a TV at the same time. If you're straining to watch the screen, you're probably knocking your spine out of alignment. I think she makes a valid point.

Can you find a workout buddy? A friend, or even just someone at your gym? Perhaps you could try all of the classes at your new gym and see what you like?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:13 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

I loathe exercising for exercising's sake, so I have to fool myself into being active without realizing it.

Something that helped me a lot in 9-5 office life was having my desk raised to a standing height and switching from a chair with a back to a backless stool which I only occasionally sat on. I've found that when I sit on a chair, I hardly move around at all, but if I stand or lean on the edge of a stool, I'm in constant motion.

Regarding your gym: ask gym employees how to use the equipment: you're paying for the membership, you might as well use it. I've found it more motivating to have a workout partner—roping in a friend or someone who seems friendly at the gym—so I can fool myself into thinking I'm there to socialize.
posted by jamaro at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

One of the problems you may be experiencing in your 9-5 that you were not before is the perpetual burning of calories you experience in jobs where you have to move. When I had a desk job I sat for 8 hours at a time. Maybe burned 200 calories an hour tops. When I bartended I was on my feet hustling for 6 hours at a time, maybe burning 400 calories an hour. That adds up FAST!

Here's my advice to you, my advice I give to everybody trying to stick to a workout regimen. Number 1, make the workout as convenient as possible. Always have workout clothes handy, join a gym that has multiple locations, or keep things in your car that you can use to exercise at the local park on a warm day (like a jumprope or bands). Whatever you choose to do, make it convenient. Number 2, treat your workout like a part-time job that you have to go to 5 hours a week. It is a priority just like your regular job. Don't schedule your workout around other events, schedule other events around your workout. Number 3, utilize whatever distractions you must to keep you focussed on the workout. For me it's the ipod and something to read while doing cardio, or I when I have some flexibility in my schedule I'll go to the gym when there's a game on TV I can watch from the treadmill.

Working out is important. It just might keep you alive longer, and living life in a happier fashion. When you are working out, NEVER, EVER think "I should be out doing X instead". You shouldn't be. You are doing exactly the best thing for your well-being at that point. I've been working out for 19 years now, and this is how I've managed it.
posted by vito90 at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

For me, two things have worked to get me exercising. One is choosing an arbitrary goal and using it as a motivator. An upcoming 5k road race is a good one, because if I know I'm going to have to run 3 miles in a month, I'll get my ass into the gym more often. Don't be afraid to sign up for a race if you're not competitive. They're fun events and the only thing that matters is getting out there.

The other is finding something you really enjoy that also happens to require a lot of exertion. For me, it's basketball. Over the course of one summer, playing basketball a couple nights a week and running sporadically, I lost about 25lb.

I'll be honest, I don't think pilates is going to burn the kind of calories you need for a weight loss program. You really need to do something intense, like the cardio you said you're already doing, or heavy weight lifting (not 5lb dumbbells), to stoke your metabolism. If you have any interest in weight lifting, check out stumptuous, a site about weight lifting for women.

You probably should watch what you eat now, with your lower activity level. Avoiding refined sugars is probably the simplest and most important thing -- soda, candy, ice cream, high fructose corn syrup. The sugar goes directly into your bloodstream, giving you a burst of energy that fades quickly (30m to 1hr). After that, you will crave another snack, and this cycle will lead to consuming way too many calories. I wouldn't worry too much about fat, personally. Fat's got a bad reputation, but our body requires certain fats, and it's somewhat filling -- doesn't lead to the awful cycle of consumption that pure sugars do.

The bottom line in losing weight is calories. 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. You can either increase your activity level to burn more calories or reduce your intake (or both). You don't have a lot of weight to lose, so taking some basic, reasonable steps will probably serve you well.
posted by knave at 10:43 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

How I Added Exercise to My 60-Hour Work Week:
- Get off public transportation one stop before your stop and walk the rest of the way. Ditto on the way home.
- Park in the most distant spot in the parking lot.
- Always take the stairs.
- Walk 20min at lunch time and 10min during some break.
- Start wearing a pedometer and strive to increase your distance 10% each week.
- Find the closest gym to work and go there (I was more likely to be successful this way than than if I went to the one near my house).
I also did yoga at home but, as others have alluded to, you will need to dedicate some time to learning the routine well enough to do it without watching.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:59 AM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Do check out the Stumptuous link in Knave's response. Ditch the small weights. Don't be afraid of lifting some heavy weights - unless you're eating a tremendous amount, you're not going to bulk up.

Your gym offers pilates courses - if it interests you, go - even if you don't really enjoy the instructor - the important thing is it gets you on a schedule and to the gym. You can stay after class and do some weight training and cardio. After a bit, maybe you'll be fine with just going for the weight training and cardio. Try some other courses too. People who take classes at their gym are much more likely to attend regularly.

The schedule thing is important - decide that Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:30-7:30 you've got an appointment at the gym. If possible, head straight to the gym after work. You'll find a million excuses not to go if you're already at home.

Look into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for cardio.

Food wise, avoid as much refined sugar as possible. Try and eat mostly good fats. No one is asking you to give up certain foods - just keep it to a minimum. It's much easier to NOT eat a food than it is to burn it off. The next time you're staring down a donut (or whatever your vice may be), try and do some math and figure out how much cardio you'll need to do to burn off the extra calories.

Think of all the money you're saving having quit smoking (congrats by the way - if you can do that, having the willpower to go to the gym and eat right shouldn't be a major challenge). Why not spend some of that money on a personal trainer for a couple of sessions - have them show you how the equipment works. They might even be able to help you adjust your diet as necessary.

I was in your position a few years ago, and lost about 30lbs following most of the above (substitute yoga for pilates)

To summarize: lift (heavy) weights, HIIT for cardio, get on a schedule and stick to it, eat well, don't give yourself a chance to find an excuse not to go.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

It might sound nice to keep gym stuff in the car, but I treid keeping running clothes in the car one spring/summer, and I found that the heat of the day melted the adhesive for the soles on my Nikes, such that they separated from the shoe-part completely.
Don't keep running shoes in the car during the summer.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:07 AM on April 17, 2007

Sounds like exercising isn't really your thing. You seem to have found an excuse to avoid it all.

Look at cutting calories. Simply replacing whatever you dink at the 9-5 with water can shave off a couple hundred calories a day which can be enough to slim you down after a couple months. If you eat in your car on your commute stop doing that. If you focus on it, a very few small changes in habits can lead to a very satisfactory weight loss.
posted by Ookseer at 11:36 AM on April 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for all your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the ideas. I will speak up at the gym and just ask how to use the machines. I checked out the site and it looks great - getting started tonight.

The thing is I am fairly healthy - I don't eat candy or other desserts very often at all, I drink water and tea all day long. I don't commute by car so I don't eat in my car, or on the train for that matter. I was raised to eat healthily. Very small changes aren't gonna cut it. I need regular exercise, but Im a little lost as to how to execute properly.

Regardless of whether exercise is "my thing" its something I believe is necessary beyond my desire to loose the belly bulge!
posted by Carialle at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2007

Bike to work. This way you just use your former commuting time as your workout time.
posted by mikepop at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

One thing that's helped me and my girlfriend shed poundage is altering how much and when we eat. Instead of three big meals, I eat eight small meals, about 200-250 calories, every two hours. This equals 1600-2000 calories per day, which is about two thirds what I was eating before. I don't get hungry though because I'm constantly snacking.

The trick is finding out how many calories you need to be eating, depending on your ideal weight and exercise level.

(your idea weight) x (12 if sedentary) = (your calorie needs)
(your idea weight) x (14 if lightly active) = (your calorie needs)
(your idea weight) x (16 if very active) = (your calorie needs)

Under no circumstances should you reduce your caloric intake below 1200 unless you've consulted a medical profesional.

This is the equation I've seen again and again online, and was verified by a relative who is a personal trainer. I've dropped about 15 pounds in four months doing this and getting light aerobic exercise.

If nothing else, this program has really opened my eyes to how much I was eating before.

Some resources-
Estimated Calorie Requirements at
FitDay a convenient way to track the foods you're eating.
posted by lekvar at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

As far as workout videos, I've worked out at home for a long time. The gym tends to make me anxious, and I'm more likely to workout if the stuff I need is right there, as in right outside my bedroom. I recommend *older* aerobics+weights videos by The Firm (they are cheesy but effective), weight-training videos by Jari Love, yoga videos from YogaZone (with Alan Finger as instructor -- he is AWESOME), and aerobic vids that use simple choreography, like kickboxing or most Kathy Smith stuff. The QuickFix videos are great, because you can usually motivate to do "just 10 minutes" of whatever.

You do have to get out of the house wicked early -- I don't envy you. I would usually recommend working out in the AM (because even though I am not a morning person, it is the only way to make sure I fit in a workout), but I don't know that that will work for you. I would try to do short workouts in the evening -- and change into your workout clothes as soon as you get home. Also, definitely look into whether you can work out at the gym at lunchtime.

The gym can be scary, but it's not so bad once you get into it. An mp3 player helps a lot, and if you're anxious about the weight machines for instance, try free weights & body-weight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups instead. Remember, no one is really watching you. I swear!

Those who've said pilates won't cut it are definitely right. You're going to have to get cardio & weights in there.

I'm like you -- not in that I've always been skinny, but in that I eat very healthily (and don't diet) and don't drive anywhere, so a lot of the common tips like "give up soda!" and "walk to where you're going!" really don't apply. That said, the advice to keep moving while at your desk job and to increase steps using a pedometer to track, is very VERY good -- and will be more effective than you think. Once you strap on a pedometer you will likely be appalled to discover how few steps you're taking in a day. I know I was. Getting up to 10,000 steps a day will absolutely make a difference, and you likely won't resent it the way you might forcing yourself to properly "exercise". Try to walk more, and take a 30 minute stroll in the evening, and you'll be there. In fact, in general, I find that just being outside makes any activity seem less like "exercise" (which my mind has determined is a chore), and more like just enjoying myself outdoors. Biking, walking, whatever -- it might be the way to trick yourself into moving.
posted by tigerbelly at 12:55 PM on April 17, 2007

I thought for years and years that I hated to exercise, but it turned out that I just hated running, and the gym. The exercise that changed my mind was (don't laugh) Jazzercise.

It is cheap and time-efficient, with a balance of cardio and strength. And it is the only exercise that I've ever been able to stick with on a long-term basis. Every few months they do a thing where you can earn a prize (like a towel or a t-shirt or something) for coming a certain number of times in a month. Even though it sounds cheesy, it really works to motivate me. It's really satisfying in that gold-star way to put a little sticker next to your name every time you go to class.

As far as diet goes, a recent change that's been working for me has been to have a big plate of raw veggies and salad dressing for lunch instead of a regular lunch (normally I would bring a tupperware of leftovers from home.) It's a lot of volume for not many calories, so it keeps me full all the way until dinnertime, as opposed to getting home ravenous and scarfing half a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips.

Your description reminds me a lot of myself, (also tall and normally thin but started packing on some pounds after getting a desk job) so maybe what has been working for me could work for you too.
posted by slenderloris at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2007

All too often people associate exercise with going to the gym and slogging away on treadmills or ellipticals. Being healthy doesn't have to be boring. Try dance classes, join a bike or swim club, start a martial art, try capoeira (this is really fun), find a climbing place near you and climb regularly. These are all activities that will get you moving and are social and fun.
posted by schroedinger at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2007

Nthing the sentiment that:

If you get involved with a team, you will not only meet people who are in the same situation, you will also have the added peer pressure as a motivating factor.

The end goal should be to have fun. Looks like you've associated "the gym" with "badness" which is an easy trap to get into.

I hate "the gym." With a passion. But I have friends in my swimming class and we push each other to get better. It's fun challenging and something I've grown to look forward to everyday. It no longer feels like the gym.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2007

You've marked the best answer already. Good for you. Now get to it!
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2007

I never thought it would be something I could get into, but I really like Yourself Fitness for the XBox. The routines vary enough to keep it interesting, the trainer chides you when you skip a day, you can chart your progress over time, and you can incorporate weights, etc. to increase the difficulty. It also has a yoga program that, while not exactly pilates, is fairly good. Good luck!
posted by B-squared at 7:22 AM on April 18, 2007

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