I am admittedly not one for making New Year's resolutions or following other trendy social movements that set you up for failure. (God forbid I become a resexeciser!) So when I decided to start my workout regimen directly after the first of the year, it was purely and shamelessly because the numbers are on my side.
So many people begin workout routines and boot camps around this time that I'm less likely to fall behind the jogging pack and become traumatized away from exercise. And even though I'm the queen of excuses, I can't blame my aversion to outdoor workouts on the Houston heat if I begin during one of our warm winters.
How exactly does one go from the happy hour seats to the park trails at 6 p.m. every day? I’m still finding that out the hard way — here's what I've got so far:
- Telling anyone and everyone who would hear about it that I was starting a new workout routine so that they would hold me accountable (again, fear of shame works wonders).
- Accepting invitations to mixed workout classes with different groups of friends without double thinking it. Changing up routines and including a social element are proving to be key.
- Posting the heinous "ZOMG, this is workout day #1" picture on Facebook.
- Spending a good few hours or so (punctuated by impromptu dance routines) compiling a music playlist that will keep me jog-dancing the whole time.
- Reminding myself that it’s okay — necessary even — to slip up a few days or more.
The first few days forced me to leave the comfort of my brand new Temper-Pedic mattress pad at unforgivably early hours or forgo $5 happy hour pizza at Benjy's to jog up and downs hills I never knew we had in Houston.
I'm still wondering when my sore muscles will turn into strength and energy.
After about a week, I was merely following the routine and going through the motions instead of debating whether to workout that day. I'm hoping I'll get to the point where I'm actually excited to sweat my "beach wave blowout" into a ball of frizz, and I'm still wondering when my sore muscles will turn into strength and energy.
So far I've seen very little physical progress. I'm inclined to blame my workout-induced expanding appetite for the stagnant measurements. I've also read that beginning to exercise initially creates fluid retention, the body's natural response to preventing dehydration and to repair muscle damage.
Whatever the scientific explanation, working this hard and not seeing results is precisely when the social and financial commitments help keep you going and where the boot camp comes into serious play.
The routine at my primary boot camp is comprised of strength training drills interspersed with jogging sprints, all accompanied by a whole lot of "angry" yelling from our well-meaning instructor. Push-up and sit-up variations, run as fast as you can, do it all over again. Alternating cardio and strength training is a way to prevent plateaus and make your heart pump while keeping the muscles guessing.
It's a good routine that I couldn't have drawn up, and one that I wouldn't work through as fervently as I do if not for our drill sergeant. Still, he gets paid to chase us up hills, what most cultures would consider criminal. I'm just hoping it will pay off when I require less coffee and B12 vitamins to get me through the week.
The first few days are killer, and the morning after the first workout is absolute torture. (Remembering how to walk again requires active thinking because your legs have forgotten how to take turns and bend at the knees.) The good part is that looking forward to pre-workout laughs and post-workout dinners with friends will keep you going until it eventually feels less like an attack on your limbs and more like a part of your lifestyle.
The bigger task is beginning and committing to the new undertaking, the rest becomes habitual. It all starts with small steps, a solid plan and a really, really good playlist.