Oh, if only I had a little green linguistically challenged trainer who could hang on my back, spouting guru encouragement and inspiring me by lifting spaceships out of ponds. Instead, I have four little beige people I must dress and cobble and herd out the door like protesting cats. I feel like Luke when he sizes up that spaceship: I don’t think I’m strong enough. And why am I herding booger spurting beige cats wearing Spiderman masks into the spaceship stuck in a pond? To exercise. Be it rounding the block or driving to the YMCA, I am determined to burn a few hundred calories.
But I must be my own Yoda. “Use the Force, Katie.”
It’s great advice, actually: Do or do not, there is no try. Don’t think about it, just do it. When I think about going to the Y, I often talk myself out of it. I’ll go later. I’ll do some crunches while I watch TV tonight, I promise. It might rain. It’s raining. It did rain. Ooo, my weekly StumbleUpon email just arrived. I should probably clean instead. Pitiful.
There was one day just before Christmas when I finally tired of the filth that was my house (why clean in December when you can shop for presents?) and I cleaned for 3½ hours straight. That was a good workout. “The Force is strong in this one.” Unfortunately, that kind of cleaning bug only hits me on a solstice.
So I try not to think about it. Just do it. (Yes, Nike, I will accept sneakers as payment.) There is always something else I could do with that time, but nothing else I should do. And all of the stuff that needs to get done still gets done because exercise increases my energy. It’s kind of magical. Like Yoda.
“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31
He is the REAL Force.
Images are from:
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Why are you still reading?
Unless HE chooses to lose, it’s not going to happen. You can lead a spouse to water….
So, if you can’t sit on his chest and force feed him carrots, what can you do?
There are a few things you can do to help him get healthy, just remember to treat your spouse like a grown up and not a child who can be tricked into eating asparagus because you call them “magic wands”.
1. Read this blog to him. (Not necessarily today’s entry unless he’s familiar with me; start at the beginning with Sex, then move on to Soup and Two Fisted Eating. Starting any conversation with the word “sex” makes your husband already like where the conversation is headed.)
2. Get him to bed on time. It’s very simple and similar to the method we discussed for getting yourself to bed on time. An hour before he should be asleep, step between him and the TV and strip. Then smile and walk upstairs. He will follow. If you have “wobbly bits” (best Bridget Jones’ Diary quote ever) that haven’t seen the light of day since birth (yours or your childrens’), it’s okay to remove one or two selective articles of clothing to give him the general idea. For some men, this can be as little as a sock.
3. Stop buying donuts. And any other junk food he can’t resist. If he asks you to buy a certain item, buy it, but buy the smaller package. Men thrive when they are respected; treat him like the grown man that he is.
If your man is overweight, there’s nothing wrong with having an “I’m concerned for your health and I want you to join me on this weight loss journey” conversation; in fact, you probably should have one of those. But if he’s not ready, don’t push it. No one wants to live with their personal trainer.
4. Exercise together. Ask him to take a walk with you. If your spouse doesn’t exercise often, keep it simple, sweat-free and short. Ten minutes, maybe twenty. After dinner walks are also a great way to release some gas without him noticing. Or perhaps it’s without you noticing his. Either way, it’s great.
If he’s competitive, ask him to hold your feet while you do sit ups while watching TV. If you brag a little, he’ll probably try to beat your record.
5. Add more vegetables to his meals. He won’t fall for the “magic wand” gimmick, but neither will he notice if an extra veggie is added to his casserole. Speaking of casseroles, try making it in two small pans and freezing one for later. It’s hard to go back for seconds if there are no seconds.
6. Offer water. Don’t take offense if he doesn’t drink it; he’s not rejecting you.
7. The Number One best thing you can do (which is, of course, why it’s listed as #7) is to be a good example. When I began to serve myself smaller portions at dinner, I also began to serve my husband smaller portions. It was easier to dish up two identical plates and if he wanted seconds, he went and got them. He discovered that he liked the smaller portions, re-started his habit of working out in the mornings, and dropped twenty pounds in three months…less than half the time it took me to lose twenty pounds. SIGH.
But the point is that my example helped get him started, and now his example helps keep me on track. If I’m on my way to the kitchen at 9:30pm for a cookie and pass by my husband eating an apple, I think twice about that cookie. If he’s playing badminton with the kids, I’m likely to join in. If he offers me a drink of his water, I find that I’m thirsty.
Do what you know you should do, and let him follow at his own pace.
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7a
I watched a great documentary a few months ago called Hungry For Change. It explains why almost everything in the grocery store from wheat to sugar to aspartame to processed food-like substance is bad for your body. By the time I finished watching it, I looked like this:
Three quarters of the way through the film I was on the computer with four tabs open. Tab 1 was researching how many cows I could raise on 1/3 of an acre, Tab 2 was looking up prices for organic cane sugar, and Tab 3 was googling “signs of heart attack due to prices for organic cane sugar”. I was absolutely overwhelmed and freaking out a bit.
The last guy they interviewed (well, if it wasn’t the last guy, then it was the last guy I paid attention to) pulled it all together and saved the day. Paraphrased, he said, “It’s too overwhelming to change everything you eat all at once. What should you do with all of this new information? Choose one thing, just one thing that you can change today, and do it.”
Oh. One thing? I can do one thing! I bake a lot, so I started by finding organic whole wheat flour on amazon and shipped myself a 25 pound bag. I gave up on finding organic white sugar; if white sugar is so awful for me, why should I pay $6 per pound for it? I’ll find a way to use less of it and I’ll buy it cheap, thank you. I bought, cooked, and ate more vegetables. Organic? No, not yet. One step at a time.
I make a lot of jokes about organic food, so I should say this: generally, I think it’s a great idea and I’m slowly getting on the bandwagon. I’m still sorting out which foods are worth the extra money to get them organic and which foods aren’t.
What’s one thing you can do today to help yourself reach your goal? What’s the one thing you can change in your diet, your routine, or your mobility this week to help you be healthier? Marry an organic farmer? Choose an earlier bedtime? Stop buying donuts? Stop driving to the mailbox? Place a bottle of water by your side all day so you drink good old H2O? Take an after dinner walk? “Close” the kitchen when you put the kids in bed?
By the way, how many cows can you raise on 1/3 of an acre? 0.033.
If they invent a T-bone steak with legs, I’m in business!
“The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
Children are the best exercise motivators in existence because they trick you. If you don’t believe me, go for a simple walk with a few small children. They enthusiastically skip and talk and explore the first quarter mile and you think, “Yes, this is nice! My body feels good!” They wait until you’re at the furthest geographical point from the house to fall apart and then you get a surprisingly good workout carrying, dragging, or threatening them all home.
A friend of mine from church – let’s call her Lean Jean – is the most creative gym teacher I’ve ever met, so I asked her for some exercise ideas. She suggests riding bikes around the neighborhood or jogging together. I’m not a jogger, but jogging with my kids might work; I mean, how fast can they go, right? I hope I have enough pride to pump my legs faster when my three year old passes me! In our family we make the kids earn their ice cream or popsicles by riding bikes around the one mile loop of our neighborhood. (Bribery you say? Yes, yes it is.)
Her next suggestion is Mailbox Races. Start at your mailbox and race to the neighbor’s mailbox, then back to yours. Let the kids choose a different movement each time: hopping, skipping, ski jumps, walking backwards, sashaying sideways, galloping. “The kids love to pick silly movements. Keep it fun.” She makes the point that you’re in front of your house the whole time, so if one kid needs a break or a bathroom, they can take a rest on the lawn. And when Mommy lies gasping on the grass, the kids can fetch her water from the house.
I was put to the test yesterday evening. My children drew a big wobbly race track on our driveway and wanted to run races. SIGH. The very thought of running made my legs and arms turn to lead. But this week’s blog was echoing in my head and I thought, “Am I going to talk the talk only or am I going to Nike it up and Just Do It?” The races were fun once I started! I felt a little silly, but what are the neighbors going to do, move away? Not in this market!
Some other great ideas she had are to make an obstacle course or to crank up the music and dance. Ever dance like a toddler? It’s all jumping and wiggles and kicks and some pretty cool hand motions. Lots of fun, but suddenly all of the songs feel so loooooooong! Let the kids lead the dancing and copy their moves; you’re guaranteed not to be stuck doing the awkward head bop I pull out at every wedding.
No “good” time for crunches or weights? Do 15 pushups leaning on your vanity before your shower, says Lean Jean, and do lunges when you’re on the phone. “Just remember that if it’s not fun, you won’t want to keep doing it. Change it up, interject it in small doses throughout your day.”
If you don’t have children readily available or you don’t feel comfortable borrowing some, I recommend you try a KISS walk, Keep It Simple Stupid. Throw on some sneakers and go. No special outfit, no gear, no reason to wait. Ten minutes here, twenty minutes there; it all adds up. How does it add up? Let us count the ways!
Dancing for 10 minutes: 90 calories
Jogging (12 minute mile) for 10 minutes: 100 calories
Push ups for 10 minutes: 40 calories
Bike riding for 10 minutes: 95
House cleaning for 10 minutes: 30 calories
Carrying, dragging, or threatening children for 10 minutes: 50 calories
“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.” Job 39:13
We may not look graceful or athletic when we exercise, but we can move our bodies with joy!
I’d known for years that I needed to lose weight. I postponed the inevitable by having four babies in six years. (Can’t lose weight when you’re pregnant, right?) I did my research, I came up with a simple plan, and then I thought, “Nuts, now I have to do it!” I was petrified of two things: 1. Not being able to lose weight. 2. Losing weight and then gaining it all back. But the only alternative was to stay overweight and that future scared me more.
One year later and thirty pounds lighter, I’m ready to share my plan and encourage anyone out there who’s on a similar journey. I’m still on the journey, by the way; I have about twenty pounds to go to reach my goal.
The plan is simple. Every week for three weeks, we focus on one aspect of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. On the fourth week we put it all together. Then we repeat the pattern every four weeks, building on the changes we’ve made and making them permanent elements of our new lifestyle.
Start with Sex
Two key elements of a healthy lifestyle are united in sex: sleep and exercise. Sex is exercise and it induces sleep. No matter which diet route you choose, if you don’t get enough sleep and you don’t get your butt off the sofa, research shows that your body is going to fight you every step of the way.
Maybe you don’t have the will power to turn off the TV and get yourself into bed at a decent hour. But you have at your disposal one of the most powerful forces in nature: your husband’s desire for intimacy. Here’s how you tap into that power. Pick a night (or several nights) of the week and say this: “Husband, I want you to seduce me at nine o’clock tonight. I will say yes. I need to be asleep by ten.” Your husband will remember. He might be incredulous (after all, it sounds too good to be true) but he will remember. Nine o’clock comes around and badda-bing, badda-boom – a good night’s sleep!
Research shows that people who get a full night’s sleep lose more body fat on a diet than those who don’t. Science has also confirmed that when we’re tired, we eat more. (Google “weight loss and sleep” and you’ll see what I mean.) If you want the hormonal explanation, check out Dr. Oz’s website; he explains the connection between REM sleep, hormones, and weight loss.
Better yet, do your own research. Ready? Get eight hours of sleep two nights in a row. Does a salad sound appetizing? Do you have the energy to make one? Good. Okay, now get six hours of sleep two nights in a row. What are the chances you’ll exercise today? Are fat and sugar your new best friends? Bingo.
Psalm 127:2 says that God “grants sleep to those he loves”. Sleep is a blessing! A gift! Not a necessary evil.
On to exercise!
Exercise burns calories and builds muscle, which burns more calories. It keeps your heart and lungs healthy, releases endorphins, yadda yadda yadda. It also makes you feel better wearing a bathing suit even if you’re not up to Kate Upton standards yet! Ask anyone who has lost weight what they did to be successful and 9 out of 10 will say, “Exercise more and eat less!” (More on eating next week – one thing at a time!)
How do you exercise more? With concerted effort.
My favorite exercise is swimming laps. It combines cardio and muscle toning in one workout and you’re wet, which means you don’t have to figure out how to look cool using dumbbells and you don’t feel sweaty. The real breakthrough came when I started swimming with a friend. We show up because we want to talk, but we make ourselves do laps first. I’m motivated to go because I want to hang out with my friend, so I go more often. I used to walk on a treadmill while reading a book because I love reading. (In fact, I avoided the pool for a long time because you can’t read in the water.) It was a pain to get the kids out the door and to the YMCA, but I got to read uninterrupted for an hour – totally worth it! The point is, if you make it fun, you’ll do it more often.
If, for you, the word “workout” is akin to “pap smear”, then start small. Go for a walk after dinner. When you’re on the phone with a girl friend, pace the room and do squats like a nut. You know that pile of things at the bottom of the stairs that needs to go up? Take them up; all of them, one at a time, up and down, up and down. Challenge your kids to a race. You may be ready to quit after one lap around the yard, but they’ll ask for more and enjoy beating you as you move slower and slower and finally bribe them back into the house with a treat. The type of exercise doesn’t matter at this point in the journey: if you’re moving your body, it counts.
Isaiah 40:29 says that God “gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak”. Ask God to help you do what you know you need to do.
So, get eight hours of sleep at least two nights this week and move ten minutes extra each day. Have faith – the things you do TODAY are affecting your weight and your body, even if you can’t see it yet.