EXERCISE AND ME
Exercise is a wonderful thing. We’re all encouraged to do some form of exercise from walking to HIIT (high intensity interval training) to jogging for miles. We’re also supposed to add in weight training to be most effective.
All very well and good if it works for you.
Let me take you back many years ago and my first real attempt to get rid of belly fat. Okay, let’s go back just a little further. Before I had my first child, I had a 21.5” waist and ate like a horse without putting on an ounce of weight. I was 5’1” tall and weighed about 90 lbs. Even at that weight, I had belly fat. Not a lot, but being so skinny, my belly bump looked bigger than it was. At least that’s the way I looked at it.
After the baby and then a second baby, I knew I needed to do something. At the time, popular exercises for reducing belly fat were sit-ups and leg lifts. One hundred leg lifts three times a day for weeks hardly made a dent at all.
Then there were crunches. No go on that either.
I finally found Callanetics (still available on DVD) and at least that worked better than anything else I tried.
But, and I remember distinctly when this happened, about a month or two before my thirty-sixth birthday, the dreaded 30s weight gain happened. At that point, I gave up the struggle.
Probably about fifteen years later, I weighed 122 pounds. The last time I had weighed that much was five minutes before I gave birth. Panic attack!!!
At that point, exercise was out of the question. I remember my P.E. teacher saying it was best to lose the weight first otherwise exercise will only harden the fat. Made sense and of course, I already knew what exercise couldn’t do for me.
After trying several diets, I hit upon what worked. I ate lunch out almost every day so, easy way to cut calories, I only ate half and brought the other half home for dinner. The first week was tough but after that, it worked like a charm. I lost twelve pounds in no time at all, bringing me down to 110. Fine, except then I couldn’t stop losing weight, so I went back to normal eating. Well, you know where that went after a few years.
When I had to stop working because of my health, it got even worse. I stopped tracking my weight and, since I wasn’t working, went around in nightgowns all day. My health gradually improved and, since I was raising my grandson, I got him a dog. A Jack Russell Terrier to be precise. He was nine years old, but if you know JRT’s, you know that they are very frisky no matter what their age.
Walking Angelo absolutely stopped the weight gain. Had I finally hit on something that worked? But then, my still very frisky JRT pulled me down twice. The second face plant on the concrete driveway convinced me that I couldn’t walk him anymore. But I didn’t want to give up what I was sure was not only going to work, but might even help me lose weight.
I had a big fenced in yard for Angelo and a 34’ screened patio for me to walk. I walked up and down that patio for months, 30-40 minutes two to three times a day and only lost one and a half pounds. On top of that, instead of my legs getting stronger from all that walking, they were getting weaker.
Are we beginning to see a pattern here? On to the Internet where I found out that I am a non-responder. I had never heard this term before, but apparently it has been around for several years. Some of us just don’t respond to exercise. Since we don’t respond, we get discouraged and stop exercising. Does that mean we are condemned to a lifetime of constant weight gain and loss of muscle tone? Maybe, maybe not.
The current wisdom is that any exercise we do is good for us, we just have to try different things until we find what works. And it definitely doesn’t need to be high intensity. No jogging, no weight training, no useless gym memberships if they don’t work for you. So, here’s what I found.
I recently moved to a house with no fence and no patio. Back to walking the dog. This is obviously not walking at a steady pace as I did on my patio at the old house. This is stop and smell the roses walking … or doggie sniffing everything in sight. Sometimes he trots, sometimes he wanders sniffing his way around heaven knows what, and sometimes he stops to do his business. I began to lose weight. Why didn’t I lose weight with my patio walking? Because there were no intervals. No slowing and speeding up or even stopping. It’s interval training but what I like to call Low Intensity Interval Training.
I also went back to my old habit of only eating half when we had fast food or went out to eat. That has definitely helped. I’ve gone from 132 pounds to 125 pounds, most of it lost in the two months since I started walking the dog again.
Now, I don’t know if this will work for you. You have to try different things until you find what does work for you.
Of course if nothing works, you can always try this.