So there you are, in your favorite evening spot, your recliner, polishing off a bowl of cereal, snuggling back for a perfect evening of sit-coms. Stop looking over your shoulder I’m not standing outside with TV cameras watching your every move. I just know the routine. It used to be mine. Now my perfect evening consists of just a little bit more. And yours can too, and without setting foot out of your easy chair! I can hear you saying “Yeah right!” already, so I’ll get on with this just to show you it can be done.
I’m not here to lecture you about exercise because that doesn’t work anyway. I am here to tell you that I’d been whining for years I had no time for it, then spent all my time being depressed about the 248 pound blob I hated seeing in the mirror. I couldn’t go to a health club, I had to be home with the kids even in the evenings, because my husband was involved in athletic activities then, plus I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford machines for the house, and besides, I had no space for a treadmill or rowing machine or weight bench. I’d tried videos, gotten bored and quit working out to them. Plus, at very nearly two fifty bouncing around was pretty difficult, not to mention frequently painful since I have bad knees. I had all the excuses down pat, believe me, just like you probably do. Getting started was way out of my reach.
Okay put your eyes back in your head. I’m not your long lost twin sister. There are a lot of us procrastinators in the world. Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing, but constantly sitting sedentary was slowly killing me, and probably is you too. During the day when my rotund butt wasn’t in my recliner, a stair climb with a basket of laundry forced me to sit halfway up to catch my breath. That’s a scary thing. How many times has it happened to you this week?
And how nervous do you get watching TV shows that are constantly slinging a barrage of health messages at you, telling you to get some sort of plan in motion before you blimp up to 400 pounds, your bones disintegrate, and your muscles, including your heart, begin to atrophy? It worried me plenty. Plan in motion…MOTION. Move something, anything. If you’re anything like me, exercise is a dirty word that conjures up images of leotards, panting incessantly, and aching for days afterward. Motion, on the other hand, is the ocean, the calming effects of a rocker, leaves gently fluttering in a soft breeze. Nothing painful there. Okay, here comes the idea, glimmer, glimmer. Any kind of tiny motion at all is better than sitting absolutely still. SO:
Try this. I promise it won’t hurt, it won’t even make you break a sweat, okay? While resting your left foot flat on the floor, lift your right knee to your chest, (Okay, almost to your chest is cool. I didn’t quite make it the first time, either I was so sadly out of shape.) Guess what? You’re still reading so you didn’t keel over, huh? Return your right foot to the floor and lift your left knee to your chest. Alternate knee to chest lifts until your show comes back from commercial. Hey! You’re in motion! No kidding! What you just did was get your leg and butt muscles moving. They’re the best ones to start with because they’re the biggest and they’ll get your circulation and eventually your metabolism into gear. Granted, it’ll be first gear, but hey, we’re past idling, right? Okay, while you’re just sitting there watching TV, hold your arm out to the side and twist your hand back and forth like your jiggling a doorknob that’s locked. Peek, if it’s not too painful, at your upper arm. Is it jiggling right along with your hand? Okay. Flab alert. Like that’s a surprise, right? My arms used to look like I had saggy water balloons hanging from them. Scooch your butt up to the edge of your seat. Quit complaining, you aren’t standing up are you? With your right arm, punch diagonally upward to the left. Then lower your right arm and punch diagonally upward and to the right with your left arm. Alternate arms with this motion until the next set of commercials gives you a breather. When the commercials come, try your legs again. By the time the sit-com ends, you’ll have worked out a full twenty minutes. That’s right! I’m subtracting the time you’re taking to read and follow the directions! You want me to count you in for more time, work into the next show!
Congratulations! A whole new era in your life is starting right here and now. You can move and watch TV at the same time without some drill sergeant barking commands at you.
The beauty of this movement is that any chair will do. Any view will do, any setting. In front of the TV, in your cubicle at the office, in your beach chair while on vacation. TV gives you a time frame to work out to, but it’s just as easy to time it to songs on a CD, though it doesn’t keep you visually distracted like TV. Pretty soon you’ll have progressed up to two sit-coms or an hour long drama. And you eventually may want to try some wrist weights. (Which, incidentally if you use, you should store under the edge of your recliner or easy chair, not in some dusty exercise niche you never use!)
Okay, it’s been a few weeks now. Swoosh yourself forward in time a little. Since nothing is aching and you’re a little toned and feeling generally better and more confident that you haven’t actually grown to your chair, you may feel the urge, steady, steady, to actually stand the heck up and move around a little. Try marching in place for starters. You don’t have to bring your knees to your waist, just lift your feet off the ground at first, but do keep up the best pace you can and pump your arms. Remember, the whole point of this thing is just to start somewhere. Every movement is better than sitting still. When you get going try throwing in a couple of standing elbow to knees, like this:
Stand in sort of a “I’m the winner and champeen!” position, your arms out to the sides, bent at the elbows. Bring one knee to waist height, bring the opposite elbow forward like you're going to make them touch, but you don’t have to, at least at this stage of the game. Build up your time little by little like you did with the seated movements. If you start breathing harder or break a sweat, go back to just marching in place, or work out seated for a few minutes. From this point on you’re at more of an intermediate movement level, and during commercial breaks the standing moves are for you! You can even be bold and try doing the Macarena, the Electric Slide or the Alley Cat steps in front of the TV just for fun.
You know, once you can move around without getting sore, and you can climb the stairs and breathe at the same time, you come to realize that moving is a good thing.
Okay. So you’re at the point where nothing tires you out. Wahoo! You’re invincible! You’ve mastered it all!
You’re advanced in my book! Pick your favorite guru’s low impact aerobic workout, and give it a shot. Pretty soon it’ll become routine and boring. So give it some zip already! You remember most of the steps, right? Well turn the TV off and crank up the stereo with your favorite rock or dance music and improvise. Speed up the steps like I did. I rediscovered Led Zeppelin. I’m not talking “Since I Been Lovin’ You,” I’m talking “Immigrant Song.” Go with your own tastes and give yourself plenty of variety to keep the workout feeling new, and feel free to sweat your ass off…literally.
Okay, we’re back in the present and since you’re sitting there, you might as well get started, right? Give it a shot…you might even come up with some ideas of your own. If you do, let me know, there are some good movies out on video and I could use some variety in my exercise plan.
Believe me, if I can do it, so can you. I was 248 pounds at 5’8” and as I said, completely out of shape. I’m getting better. Not just thinner, but healthier. I’m still breathing when I get to the top of the steps these days. Keep reading and I’ll be in touch with some tips on how to start eating healthier. They’re just as painless as the movements, and the two plans together will get you started toward feeling a whole lot better. All you need to do is move something…anything!