Turning Yourself into a Gym Rat

10 Tips to Change Yourself From a Dedicated Couch-Potato to a Gym Enthusiast

This article has some interesting points. The basic gist of the article, and it’s a good one, is that you should never let perfect be the enemy of good. You’re not up for your rocked out hard, drive yourself into the ground workout? Fine. Go for a walk and be done with it.

I do take issue with a couple of points, though, and this is from my personal perspective on fitness.

I wish to God fitness professionals would stop telling people stories about how damn energized they are after a workout. Yes, yes, yes, when you reach a certain level of (relatively low) fitness, that really, no kidding does happen. And yeah, it feels great. True enough.

If we’re going to rate fitness levels from one to ten and you’re at a one, you’ve got about a month or so of working out regularly (and intelligently within your proper fitness level) before this happens1. That’s okay. I mean, it really is. Anyone can grit their teeth through a month to get to something good. But let’s not lie and say that month isn’t needed. You’re convincing people who don’t feel great after workouts that they must be Special Snowflakes for whom movement does nothing.   But at the fitness levels where adding another minute or two to your walk is a genuine achievement, you’ve got awhile before that workout makes you feel good.  And yes, if you’ve been struggling to walk for ten minutes and you add another minute, it is something to be proud of.  You did something hard even if the person next to you doesn’t get that.

She also talks about workouts where you don’t work up a sweat on the theory that people don’t work out because they don’t want to take the time to shower.  She advises yoga, walking, weight training…  Weight training?  Weight training?  Well, if you’re going to use the “something is better than nothing” rule, sure.  But, there’s another catch.  As you fitness levels increase, you start to break out in a sweat faster.  Hell, I’m not all that damn fit and it only takes one set of squats before I’m red in the face and my shirt starts getting wet.  I do drive up the body temp swimming, but it’s not as noticeable.  If you’re a bit fit, chances are slim that you can work out without sweating.

1Perspective: If you’re going to call a one completely sedentary and a ten some sort of elite multi-sport athlete, I’d put myself at about a three.

A Really Fantastic Book for Free

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is available as a preview copy online for free.

Yep, you can read it online for free.

Now, I loved this book so much that not only do I own a hard copy, I bought the audiobook. It’s one of my favorite books to come out in the last few years.

He has encouraged people to put this link around, saying that if it was popular, he’d “be able to” do this again. I’m not entirely sure how this is really going make a profit, (other than if they’re like me, this book got me hooked on Mr. Gaiman’s work), but I’m willing to spread the word.

Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site

Oh God, I'm "Writing a Book"

I’d talked about doing a fitness book that focused on getting fit and not skinny.  Yeah, I’ve started and even have a good story to start it with!

I’m looking for some people who are willing to fill out a survey to get some ideas about fitness and what “being fit” specifically means to you.  The first chapter is going to talk about fitness and personal choice.

If you’re interested in participating, comment with email info and I’ll send it on to you.


Fighting Intertia

Finally got off my butt today and went for a walk around town with my son.  We took the long way, and dropped off some library books on to discover (horrors!) that it wasn’t open this early on a Sunday morning.

He’s asked if he can go back later to pick up some books.  Hmm… Let me think… <grin>

I’m trying to encourage him to be more independent, so I’m sending him by himself, even though I could use both the hangout time with him and the walk.

I talk about fitness a lot in my blog, but to be honest, I am quite sedentary by nature.   I don’t get spazzy from sitting all day, and I’m perfectly content in my writing chair all day knitting and writing.  It makes it difficult to motivate to move.

The problem is, if I do that for too long, I start to hurt, and then it hurts to walk and then… Well, you get the picture.

It’s gorgeous today — about 25 F and a bright sun in a cloudless sky.  So, a perfect day for a walk instead of a swim.

I’m still exercising in fits and bursts rather than consistently.  Certainly the fits and bursts are better than nothing, but I’m feeling the lack of resistance training, especially in all the joints from my hips down.   I need to be better about weights if for nothing more than to have the physical stamina to be on my feet all day when teaching a class.   When I was working at Hogworts, I was getting in those 10,000 steps a day without even thinking about it.  I couldn’t park any closer than a half mile from my office. I worked on a campus, so I was all over the place.   And for the last year I was there, I was  quite good about the swimming and weight training.   I think having a slot that was the only slot I could get my exercise in was actually better for me in a lot of ways.  The “Now or Never” mindset was a real help in motivating me.

Be that as it may, I really want the benefits of working out, and the way to get them is to  (and stay with me here) work out.  I know, it’s a crazy and radical though, but it’s true!

I’m gonna go back to the swimming three days a week and weight training three days a week first thing in the morning.   I liked the schedule and stuck with it longer than anything else.  I’m bumping my swims up to a mile, though.  I need the longer workout, and well… I can!  I like that a lot. Because my cardio is swimming, my weights are gonna be concentrating hard on lower body and not quite so hard core on upper body.  You can’t beat distance swimming for upper body strength building.

I’m going to go back to doing at 5:30 in the morning, because I want the habit developed for the days I’m teaching as well as the days I’m not. I often blow off a workout when I am teaching and I don’t want to blow off workouts on busy, out of the office days.   So, I’ve got a couple of weeks to really build the routine before I hit the classroom again.

It’s a constant struggle to stay motivated to stay active, and I’m not just talking about the “getting skinny” bullshit.  I mean staying active enough that I’ve the physical energy to do my day, accomplish my goals and feel good emotionally.  I oughta put that first.  I’ve never in my life had as good of results from an anti-depressant as I have from regular workouts.  Special Snowflake, that’s me.  I’m all delwikite and have to pump some iron or I get all weepy and emo.  But it is a struggle to stay active.  I generally love how I feel after I’ve gotten the heart rate up good, but I’m immature enough that it’s often difficult to remind myself that dragging my ass out of my chair/bed/whatever and getting moving is a good thing.  The thing is, it’s not a “do this today and a year from now you’ll be glad you did”.  Oh, no.  I get the emotional results in less than an hour.  How’s that for impatience and foolishness when it comes to difficulty of motivation?  LeSigh.  Maybe I’ll grow up someday.

But, I will have my rear in the pool tomorrow morning at five thirty.  I can certainly make myself do that much!


Mom and Dad have the kids (and brought my nephews up) this week.

After they picked up the children and we had a bit of a visit, I went grocery shopping. I’m back to low carbing and there wasn’t a veggie in the house. I don’t so much count carbs as just… eat meat and vegetables when I’m trying to clean up my diet. As long as I’m not eating the “products” in favor of say, salad greens and bell peppers, we’re all good.

Found some whole chickens on sale for .79/lb, so snapped them up. simplykimberlysimplykimberly, I know you’re really busy with school and all, but any time you wanna do a video on how to debone a chicken fast, I’m all good with being an eager student.

I also splurged and got some portabella mushrooms caps (I bake them with a slice of tomato, some mozzarella cheese, olive oil, seasoning and salt) an artichoke and some macademia nuts. I’ll keep the last in my purse for when I am teaching so as not to be tempted by the donuts bought for the students.

I was passing through one aisle and saw these vitamin water thingies. A couple was debating the health properties of the various brightly-colored water in plastic bottles.


Now, before you think I am on a high horse here, allow me to point out that I did buy some flavored seltzer water, so I was basically paying for some carbonated water with a little lemon in it. I’m aware of it. I just don’t feel virtuous for buying a health drink.  I bought it for fun and to splurge on something tasty and enjoyable to me.

I mean, you want kool-aid with vitamins in, go for it. It’s probably marginally better than kool-aid alone, but you’re paying a lot for a marginal health benefit that would do you better if you’d eat a bloody apple or a damn carrot.

It’s a goofy peeve, I know. It goes along with the people who say they have to eat unhealthy because they can’t afford to eat healthy. Ummm… chicken… $.79/lb. Better for ya than Ramen. Oh, you don’t want meat? Beans, equally cheap. I can make a kick ass bean soup for about $.50/hearty serving. (Actually for those of you who like to eat low-fat, riverspirit54riverspirit54 has a recipe for an absolutely fantastic chili heavy on the veggies. I’ve never priced it out, but it wouldn’t be expensive at all to make.  It’s very tasty, especially over rice).

I think the thing that bothers me is something of a philosophical thing about food and nourishment.   I find a well-prepared meal, nutritious meal a nurturing thing — whether cooking for myself, or if it’s shared with people.  The dieting philsophy that food shouldn’t be a replacement for love (true enough) should never have been taken to mean that good meals, carefully and lovingly prepared, shouldn’t be expressions of love or nurturing.  When we’re eating badly, we’re probably eating mindlessly.  When we’re eating well, we’re probably giving the food focus and attention.

My Heart's Desire

yzmacat.jpgI want a Kronk of my very own. Where does one find one? Of course, there are often days I feel like Yzma-kitty, so maybe that ain’t so hot after all.


My job is to learn stuff and tell people about it — more or less, anyway.

When I was a young kid, the professions I fantasized about (Paleontologist and Marine Biologist) certainly had that quality to a degree.

Between the ages of 12 and 15 or so, I wanted to be an actor.

During all of that — say from the time I was 12, I was also writing. I didn’t think of it so much in terms of work. I just… did it. It just felt natural to put thoughts on paper and play with them until they communicated something.

The first “serious” piece I wrote was a script for the Dukes of Hazzard. It was bad. Okay, no…it wasn’t bad. It was appalling. I tried some ten years later to write a script for Star Trek: The Next Generation. My husband at the time still has flashbacks from having to live with me through that.

Not long after that, I got a job — a work for hire deal, writing a manual on how to open a business. I remember clearly writing it and being scared because it was “too quirky” and was wondering if it would work or if I’d piss off my client. This was before the “For Dummies” manuals became as popular as they are, but it was written in that chatty style. In school, I always got fussed at for turning in chatty work. (I know, you can’t write like that academically!) But I used to get mad because it felt right somehow when I would write it. I really wish one of my teachers had pulled me aside and explained that chatty had its genuine and real place.

He liked it.

Why I didn’t pursue that at the time, I do not know. Part of it was that I wanted to write fiction. Honestly? I’m a hell of a lot better at non-fiction — teaching someone how to do something or poking at an illogical thought directly.

I wish I knew why. It kind of depresses me. I feel like Salieri when I read really good, moving epic pieces. And I don’t write epic well.

Maybe I oughta take a page from John Varley’s writing style. He makes it work. I just don’t see how I could write Stoneflower from a first person perspective and make it work.

The first novel I ever wrote was in the style of Heinlein’s Number of the Beast — shifting first person. It was easier to write, but I don’t think there’s any way in hell I could live some of the characters in Stoneflower for the time required to write them first person.

Why I Am in Favor of Testicles for Trucks

Truck TesticlesApparently there’s a new fad out there — hanging rubber or chrome testicles from a truck’s trailer hitch.

And because it’s (OMGWTFBBQ!) a physcial representation of a body part having something to do with <gasp!> sex, some peabrain in the Commonwealth of Virginia wants to ban them.

I think balls for trucks are great! They’re awesome. They’re a big ole danglin’ sign that there’s someone in that truck that is too tacky for me to associate with.

I mean, really… Without those swingin’ nuts, I might actually have to waste the valuable, limited seconds of my life listening to them talk to discover they’re too idiotic to be worth my time.

So if you feel the need to give your truck balls, why go for it, my dear.

And thank you from the bottom of my heart for your philanthropic service.

Being A Foodie (Sorta)

You couldn’t call me a full-blown foodie. I will use the occasional preprocessed ingredient in my cooking. Canned, crushed tomatoes? Bring ’em on. Minced garlic in a jar? In a pinch. (A fresh-chopped clove has a better flavor, though).

I when I travel, I do my very best to try the “local” food. I’ll hold off on trying a dish at all until I can have it where they make it right. I didn’t try clam chowder until I went to Boston, and I’m holding off until I visit New Orleans to try gumbo. I don’t even bother to eat crab cakes up here in New England, preferring to eat them on dockside restaurants on the Chesapeake Bay.

Now, I’ve enjoyed pasta dishes well enough, but the only one I got really excited about was when I was in EPCOT center a couple of decades ago and went to Alfredo’s there. Of course I had the fettuccine Alfredo.

Even though I learned to make a decent Alfredo sauce (cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese), I was never quite able to get the umph of the dish, and remained an indifferent pasta eater. To me, eating pasta was what you did when you were exhausted and didn’t feel like a creative meal.

A friend of mine gave me one of those hand-cranked pasta makers for my birthday, then taught me how to use it. Ignoring my mother’s rule (never have a new dish or cooking technique when you have guests coming over), I made home-made pasta (with copious help from my friend) and we had fettuccine Alfredo for dinner.

I feel totally in love with homemade pasta that day. Oh sure, it’s delicious — and that’s the point of food.

But it has an added element.

Making homemade pasta is just fun. My friend says that homemade pasta was a treat in her household, and if they’d been good, they’d be allowed to turn the crank on the pasta machine to roll out sheets or to cut the dough. I’ve made it with my kids a few times, too. It’s a fun way to have ’em in the kitchen and have a good time when you’re getting a meal together.

The funny part is that making pasta really isn’t all that hard or time consuming. Now, I’d be unlikely to make it after a long day on my feet, but just for a regular meal? Sure.

Lately I have been keeping boxed noodles in the house, so when my kids want to cook, their basic staple when cooking for themselves is gone. Perhaps I oughta teach ’em how to make it themselves, huh?

Moronic Legislation

A Mississippi bill to prohibit food establishments from serving food to obese people.

Am I the only person who looks at that and thinks of the “Physical Jerks” scene from 1984?I mean, Sweet Zombie Jesus, it’s not like I don’t believe in healthy eating and exercise.    My ass was in the pool today and I swam a whole mile.  You can’t say I don’t work out.   I believe that eating right and exercise is good for you.

It’s just that it’s not the State’s goddamned job to force it.