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Getting Exercise

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Health > Getting Exercise


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Getting colds every time I start exercising

March 2009

3 years ago I had some health issues (cancer), and I've been trying to get back to my pre-surgery weight since then (remission). I've come down two dress sizes however, everytime I actively begin an excercise program- I get a cold or the flu- and I'm flat on my back, still out of shape, and irritated that I'm back to rest an fluids all over again. This has been consistant for the last year, and it's driving me a little batty. My mental inertia is hard enough to battle, and then when I think I'm getting through it- bam -sniffles, sneezes, and achey all over.

Just so you know, Yes- I've talked to my doctor, and all my tests show me as being super healthy, so his advice is to just keep getting back to it as soon as I feel better. I am not engaging in any major marathon training or boot camp. Just the simplest AM calesthenics and 30 minutes of walking per day.

Has anyone else experinced this? I'm so done with this cycle- any advice would be appreciated. melissa


I am the same way: I start exercising regularly, feels pretty good, but once I get a cold or something, I just can't continue with the exercise, and it takes a Herculean effort to get back into the groove once healthy. I don't have any advice, only sympathy, and I am looking forward to other responses! kevin
Yes! This has happened to me a lot. It doesn't happen anymore because I start my exercise very slowly when I haven't done it in a while. I mean either doing only 20 minutes a day 4 days a week, or more minutes fewer days and building it. Also, you should sleep more when you're building up your endurance. Lastly, you could have some immune issues. Turns out I did. I recommended my acupuncturist Bobby Lewis to the person posting about about her husband getting sick all the time. She can really help you get your immune system back on track with acupuncture, herbs, and dietary recommendations. Her office is in Berkeley on Dwight near MLK. Roberta ''Bobbie'' Lewis, 510/540-8528.
Have you had your liver function checked? I had similar problems, and my acupuncturist as well as my naturopath separately concluded that my liver was overtaxed. So, what was happening is that I would exercise, melt a few fat cells and the toxins stored in those cells were being released. They'd all build up in the liver, but, because my liver wasn't functioning properly, the toxins weren't being processed. That failure was weakening my immune system. My poor diet (I was unknowing eating foods that are typically considered healthy, whole grains, lowfat dairy, eggs, but that I have intolerances to) combined with the inability to quickly process and eliminate toxins led to a unending cycle of exercise/illness. Some homeopathic constitutional remedies to clear my liver pathways, along with adding some specific foods into my diet (beets, cucumbers, dandelion greens among others) and cutting out the wheat, dairy and sugar have helped. getting fit and healthy at last!
Gina Kolata, the science/health writer for the NY Times, recommends exercising through colds. Her article (you can find it in the Health section of the Times online) cites studies that find no difference in lung congestion with moderate exercise, I think if you don't have a fever, either, just a regular old cold. I've taken this advice and gone for an easy jog in the middle of a cold, after a rest, with a little caffeine, I can get my run in. I think the human body is designed to work through the average cold, but I know with this last sinus thing going around, I really had no desire to jog, I just got a walk in when I could, and it really helped my energy overall. I also exercise straight through my cycle, and I never get cramps anymore. Hope this helps. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04EFD61230F936A15751C1A96E9C8B63# Not overdoing it, just doing it
This has happened to me every time I have started lifting weights or exercising again after a break and it is so frustrating! The key is to drink a ton of water throughout the day because your body is flushing out the lactic acid that has stored up in your muscles. This plus stretching after a workout and taking plenty of vitamin c will get you through. Stick with it! anon

Getting exercise with very little time

Sept 2008

Hi there, I am appalled that I have gained about 10 pounds (a lot on my petite frame) since the beginning of the year. I know that I am not getting enough exercise. I can change my eating habits, but I have so little free time, I'm not sure how to get the exercise that must go along with diet change to lose the weight. I work full-time, am in school every other Saturday all day, and have a school-age child. I have no money to join a gym, nor the time to go to one. So, I think the only thing I can realistically do is something I can do in the evening at home after my child has gone to sleep. I was thinking about something like a mini stair-stepper like this: http://www.target.com/Mini-Stepper-Exerciser/dp/B0000C0XOB/sr=1-1/qid=1221968433/ref=sr_1_1/602-4793921-2735030?ie=UTF8&index=target&rh=k%3Astair%20stepper&page=1 Anybody have any experience with this type of thing? I do not have room in our house for anything bigger than that really. Recommendations of other similar types of equipment? Any other ideas on how to get exercise/lose weight (which all seems to be between my waist and my knees - I turned into a pear!)? Thanks! My pants are too tight!


Hi! I have something larger in my room, but the concept will still apply--I try to do 15 min. on my elliptical 3+ times a week. I watch tv & the clock the whole time & don't worry about speed or working up a sweat. I figure that I am getting into the habit. I also do floor exercises focused on specific body parts (think crunches) for about 10-15 min. After about 2 weeks of this routine, I start to see (mild) results (it is better than nothing at all)! Plus, I have more energy. Good Luck! Tired & Busy too!
I do exercise videos at home early in the morning. The ones I do I have been doing for about 15 years so you probably can't find them anymore, but I would suggest you just buy a few and try them until you find a couple that you like. They usually run 30-45 minutes, but you save time going to a gym, changing clothes etc. I am very busy also but strive for 3x a week - sometimes it's only 1 or 2 times, but I do what I can. And while you might have to spend a little money buying a few videos until you find some you like, after that it's free.
I hear you on the no time to excerise front, especially with 3 kids. I don't do well excersising at home, there's always too much work staring at me in the face so I prefer to get out. That's why I *love* 24 Hour Fitness' Fit Lite gyms. It's circuit training -- you warm up with at least 5 mintues on a cardio machine (bike or elliptical) and then do a 30 minute circuit. There's a chime going off every minute letting you know when to move on to the next station. The stations are weight machines, core work on the floor, and resistence machines. It's a really varied workout and effective, especially if you focus on engaging your core muscles and giving it all you've got. I am really motivated to go, because even if my kids have run me ragged all day, I tell myself it's only 30'',that I can make it. I do the circuit at least 3 times a week and then 2 times a week I go and just do one the elliptical or bike for 20 - 30 mintues to get some cardio. I go to the one on Solano and there are all sorts of people - a wide range of ages, shapes and sizes. It's very low key, and I have more energy and tone than 2 weeks ago.

You can go on line and get a free week trial. Make an appointment for a trainer to walk you through everything, and if you want, they can also do a body fat, etc. analysis and work with you on that. You can also push for a good deal - buying a year membership can come out to less than $20/month. I'm doing month to month at $34/month. anon


Can you create 1/2 hour in your home about 4-5 days per week? You can get a great work out with a few hand weights and an exercise ball (or nothing but your body and a floor and 4 walls, also). The biggest challenge about exercising is saying ''I'm going to do this'' and then doing it. You don't need to join a gym, get fancy equipment, etc.

Personally I wouldn't recommend the stair stepper you showed...for one you should try it before buying...will you really use it? It will use the same muscles over and over again...so, no upper body workout, no core strengthening. If you're anything like me, you'll use it for a week or two and then get really bored. You can DEFINATELY do this at home and for minimal expense. June


I don't know whether those mini steppers are any good or not. The best advice I can give you is to start walking as much as possible. Your lunch breaks are a good place to start. Also, can you get up 30 minutes early and exercise by walking/jogging? You could put your kid in a stroller if no one is home to watch him or her at that hour. Then you can walk for 20 min when you get home. When I was working full time and had small kids at home that was what worked for me: just working in walks every day, often more than once a day. I never had that big chunk of time to work out. Also, what about weekends? You could do bigger chunks of time on the weekends and then shorter workouts throughout the week. A good pair of running shoes is all you need to get started.
I was in your position a few years ago, and bought one of those little stair-steppers. It was great for about a week, then it started squeaking so badly I was afraid I was going to wake up the kids, so I stopped using it. I finally found a few yoga dvds, and that was something I actually started looking forward to in the evening. They are relatively quiet, you don't get all sweaty and worked up just before going to sleep, and in spite of the relaxation of it all, I did find that after a bit I was getting more toned and losing some pounds. You can get some to try from the library or Netflix. The ones I liked best were from Yoga Zone. Some were about 40 minutes, but others had two twenty-minute routines, which I would use when I didn't have much time or energy. Usually I ended up doing both routines, since it felt so good once I had started. Good luck! Anne -
I use free weights and bands and workout to exercise videos (there are a lot of good ones) and also have DirectTV which has a station called FitTV, which has several exercise programs on daily. I do a variety of exercise-- aroebic, weight training, kick boxing, etc. to reduce injury and work different muscles. Even if I get in 10 minutes of an exercise routine, I'll do it. But- what's important is what works for you. I had an exercise bike, but never used it. daily workout
The best way is to get an aerobics CD to do when you can - after your child goes to bed? I have one I do three times per week which includes a little work with weights and some floor work floor the lower back and abs. This is a real life saver - and no large in home machinery or gym expense! Cheap and Fit
Consider exercise videos. Better yet, if you have Comcast ''On Demand,'' check out the exercise routines available (for free). Lots of choices -- cardio, strength, pilates, yoga -- at all different levels of ability. Good luck! Anon

How to get in shape? I hate gyms

July 2008

I often walk/hike at lunch during the week, but I'm at a point where I need to get some upper body strength workouts too. But I hate gyms! I hate ''working out'' inside. What alternatives are there? Yoga is an option (a yoga studio is more appealing than a gym), perhaps tai chi? One thing to note is that I'll need to work on specific muscle groups. Any recommendations or ideas greatly appreciated! Work me out please


join See Jane Run in their training sessions. Online or check the store on College Ave: seejanerun.com ''Jane'' Stefanie
I've seen women from Montclair Recreation Center doing classes in weights, so you might contact them to see what they can offer. They do them outside in the adult area (Where you can do chin ups or stretches or situps on an incline)for exercising at the edge of the park by the rec center.I hope that helps. Bonnie
I, too, hate going to the gym and working out inside. Why not join a fitness boot camp? You work out in the outdoors with a group and a trainer, usually weekdays either before work. You meet new people and often end up doing lots of new exercises that you would not have thought of on your own, so all those hidden muscles get worked pretty well. Here are some:
http://www.oaklandbootcamp.com/
http://www.trivalleybootcamp.com/
http://www.contracostabootcamp.com/
http://www.bayareabootcamp.com/ 
boot camp fan
Two words- Oakland Bootcamp - www.oaklandbootcamp.com. All women outdoor workout combines hand weights, resistance bands, cardio, pilates - all outside. Finally fit
HI Lucy. Don't give up! For me, finding the right instructor/trainer was the most important factor in my fitness ''recovery''. I found an instructor/personal trainer at my local YMCA and I became quickly hooked on my workouts. I went from being completely out of shape 3 years ago, to working out, happily now, 3-5 times a week. I think you'll find that when you connect with someone with the right energy, enthusiasm, vitality, warmth and fun spirit-you will have all the help you need to meet your fitness goals. So, please, contact Sandy Endo at: 590-6057, shedno77@sbcglobal.net. Sandy is a certified personal trainer and pilates instructor and a lovely person; both inside and out. She will be very conscientious of your limitations and know how to help you work through any injuries. She gave me tailored exercises when I had a foot and hamstring problem. She can explain which exercises will help each muscle group and, more importantly encourage you to give your muscles a rest if you! are having problems. Sandy's bottom line is physical health with a sense of psychological well-being. She really focuses on the whole person and considers each person to have their own unique needs. She is very caring teacher, and, oh- did I mention, has a great laugh? Sandy is in Albany- but give her a call and ask her about rates and travel. a mom who finally got into shape at 43

Getting my husband to exercise

May 2008

Help! Has anyone had success in getting their middle-aged husband into a regular exercise routine, and back in shape? Or is this just one of those ''You'll never change him so stop trying'' situations?

I have tried everything from asking him to join me in classes, to expressing concern about his health, to explaining how exercise will help not only with his strength and physical health, but will also make him sleep better (he sleeps terribly) and better his mental health (he suffers from acute anxiety and maybe depression), and will give him more energy and make him feel happier!

I've tried appealing to his sense of responsibility for staying healthy as the father of 2 young children, as well as setting a good example for the kids. I've tried working on my exercises at home (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc. - the more ''guy friendly'' stuff) and asking him to do them with me - no luck. I've tried family bike rides (which he'll do, but that's only every week at most, and it doesn't ''catch on'' with him as a great way to get around and get daily exercise). I've tried giving him personal trainer sessions for gifts, which he does, but then stops when they are over.

Lately, I have started to make less than veiled comments about the extra weight he is carrying (he says 15-20lbs, I say 25- 30lbs), like pointing out how different he looks in pictures of him taken 5 - 10 years ago, and then saying I guess it's the face and the torso that look the most different. Then I compliment how great he looks in the picture. It doesn't get much more obvious than that, does it?

To make matters worse, he REALLY would like to have sex MUCH more often. I already suffer from a somewhat diminished libido, and to be frank, his body does not help! Though I too am middle aged, have had kids, and look far from perfect, I do work on it because I care. But he claims to love the way I look no matter what, which makes me feel all the more guilty about wanting him to look better, and wanting him to show some concern for his body and his health. I am exercising to look and feel better for me AND for others - I.e., him (and whomever else happens to notice!), and to stay healthy for my kids, and get them to want to be very physically active too. Why won't he do the same??

Any advice appreciated, especially if you experienced the same thing and managed to turn him around! anon


I'm sure you'll get a lot of advice/opinions based on this post. It occurs to me that you should think very seriously before telling your partner (who you love?) that you wished he looked the way he did when you first met. Are you willing to lose him to someone who likes a big cuddly guy? I also wonder if you are using your fixation with his weight to avoid having sex? I would say that you guys should be in couples therapy. I would be devasted if my spouse told me he thought I was overweight! I get that you are worried about his health too but perhaps you have control issues that are getting in the way of a productive discussion about his health. Perhaps if you inspire him with more love and sex he'll want to get on the endorphin train! anon
I just cannot help but think of how many outraged responses you would get if the genders were reversed. If a man wrote that he was telling his wife how great she looked when she was younger and thinner and did not want to have sex with her any more because of her relatively modest weight gain, I know I would be appalled. I think you should give your husband the same compassion and consideration that most women would want. If he was trotting out old pictures of you and saying you looked great pre-kids, younger and tighter, I imagine you would be devastated. I would be. Give the guy a break. Compassion for couch potato
It is unfortunate that you and your husband do not value appearances and health in the same way. It sounds like you have done all you can do... except accept it and move on. I would be really upset if I was married to you and you compared me to pictures from the past and how much better I looked then ~ don't you think I ALREADY know?? Anyway, I think you are sweet to want your husband to be the best he can be, but it's starting to sound (from your post) that you are a little too obsessed. Do what you can to encourage health in your home, your family, and your husband but be kind! -not the skinny I used to be, either
I could have written your post- in fact have been meaning to. I have no solutions, so look forward to the responses you get. However, no, I don't think you're terrible. I'm not in perfect shape, but I care, I watch what I eat, and I get my cardio in to take care of myself. It's really frustrating that my husband seems to sit back and figure I'll be there to take care of him when he hasn't bothered to take care of himself. Yikes. another ticked off loving wife
You said you've bought him gift certificates for personal training but as soon as they run he stops working out... why don't you just get him a personal trainer longterm? It does take a while to change habits, and the older we are, the longer it takes. If he will work with a personal trainer, get one and keep him! Also, rather than acting like you don't want to have sex because of his weight, use positive reinforcement and tell him how attractive you find him after he's been exercising. Even after just a week, encourage him by telling him he looks better already, and act on it. Carrots work better than sticks.
No, you cannot ''get'' your husband to exercise. And I gotta tell you -- the constant nagging followed by insulting discussions of my weight gain would make *me* pretty darn annoyed and downright angry if my husband tried any of the things you said you were doing. I'm sure he's quite aware he needs to exercise -- you don't need to rub it in. He will (or won't) come around on his own in his own good time. Leave it alone. Keep up with your exercise -- if you stop nagging it might just inspire him one day. Include the kids at some point if that makes sense. Suggest hikes or other outings as a family. Otherwise - leave it alone and be grateful he seems to love you no matter what. Try loving him no matter what -- you might find that goes a long way to improving his mood rather than belittling how he doesn't look as good as he did some years ago. Grateful my husband doesn't comment on my weight
Boy, I really think the person you need to change is yourself. I would be so ticked if my husband did/said the kinds of things you're doing/saying. Your husband is an adult, and as such he gets to make his own choices in stuff like this. It's not like he's an crack addict. Actually you sound pretty lucky to me, he sounds like a good guy. -anon
You mentioned how your husband wants more sex this is a perfect vehicle to get what you want. Why don't you tell you will have sex or do something he likes for every pound he looses? If my wife did this for me I would be anorexic :-) As far as Exercise I highly recommend you have him try the very succesfful Mens Health Belly Off club http://www.menshealth.com/bellyoff2008/. This has a great exercises and an easy to follow Diet which I have had great sucess with. anon
Why don't you stop trying to change your husband, and start loving and appreciating him? God forbid some day you will have some real problems, and you will look back on this and say, why was I being so shallow, when I could have loved and cherished him every day? The actions you have taken sound so dominating and judgemental and overwhelming, I wouldn't be motivated to do anything you wanted either. I say, just lay off, find something more important to worry about, and try to stop being so harsh and judgemental about something so relatively trivial. Just make him a cup of tea, stop talking at him, rub his shoulders and whisper I love you. But the key thing is to stop talking and nagging and start loving him for who he is, not berating him for who he isn't. anon
I really identify with your husband, since I have always struggled with my weight, don't enjoy most exercise, weigh more than I did a decade ago, and have a thin, athletic spouse who doesn't want to have sex with me very often. This isn't what you want to hear, but it sounds to me as if you're doing some pretty hurtful things to your husband. It's perfectly reasonable to wish that he would exercise more and live a healthy lifestyle, and some of the things you are doing -- such as telling him (occasionally) that you're concerned, and creating opportunities for exercise to happen if he's willing -- are also reasonable. But some of the things you have done go way too far. Pointing out how great he used to look and how much he has changed is just not a way to treat someone you love (and I do believe you love him) -- especially given that it sounds as if you are turning down most of his requests for sex. I would feel incredibly hurt if my husband said things like that. After all, face it, you're telling him in not so many words that he's a fat slob. This can't be helping with his anxiety and depression. If he doesn't react to those comments with anger then he's probably just seething inwardly.

People who are athletic and enjoy keeping fit have a hard time understanding that people who struggle with their weight and with keeping fit aren't just lacking in will power and resolve -- it's a lot more complex than that. It's your husband's job to sort through those issues for himself, and your job to be as supportive and loving as you can -- not to be constantly nagging him to do something he evidently isn't able to do at present, for whatever reason.

Also, I'm not blaming you for your lack of libido, but think of the horrible message you are sending him by constantly rejecting his requests for sex (I know just how awful that feels because I've been there). It's not unreasonable of him to want sex in his marriage -- it's a fundamental human need. Instead of focusing on how to change your husband, why don't you focus on trying to reconnect with the sexy man you fell in love with, who is still there under the love handles? The body he has is the body of the man you love.

Sorry if this sounds critical. Your love and concern for your husband do come across in your post. I hope this perspective from someone ''on the other side'' will be helpful. anon


Exercise is good, but it sounds as if your husband needs to improve his diet to lose weight. Add healthier foods to his diet and explain why the new foods are better for him and how they will help him lose weight. Don't let him manipulate you to get sex. If his excess weight is a turn-off, tell him so. It is totally obvious that he is lying when he says he would be just as attracted to you if you were not as attractive as you are. Call him on it. No BS
Does your husband play any sports? Everything you explained you have tried will not work with a man. You have to appeal to his competitive side. Did he play any high school sports? Does he like volleyball, basketball or soccer? (some team sport that is not golf). If so, get him to join a league or get him to at least once a week participate in that event. He will naturally want to get back in shape for that event, even if he just wants to play once a week. It has been my experience that when family pressure doesn't work, peer pressure does. No guy wants to be the scrub on the team. So get him to join a club or a team, or some physical activity that he truly enjoys, give him the time to do it, and he will take the time to improve upon it. Good luck. Laurel
The bottom line is: your husband is not going to change if he doesn't want to. Your nagging will only make him feel worse. Telling him how horrible he looks now compared to 10 years ago is pretty bad, honestly. How would you feel if he said the same thing? You may work out, etc but you admit you don't look exactly like you did then. In addition, your ''veiled'' comments aren't veiled. He's your husband and knows exactly what you mean. Perhaps he'd want to have more sex if you loved him instead of critisized/tried to change him. At least he's riding his bike with you and spending time with your family. My advice is: love your husband as he loves you and stop judging him. It may do more good than you think. Just try to change your focus - to the great things about him instead of what you want him to be. It's called unconditional love for a reason
after I read all the responses that basically said you should change your attitude, I wanted to write and support you... while you cannot change someone that does not want to, I think its perfectly valid to tell your husband it is important to you that he take care of himself so that you find him attractive. Marriage is hard. Raising children together and being business partners (owning a house together, etc.) can do a number on a marriage. And while you can still love your husband unconditionally, there is no such thing as unconditional sexual attraction. Almost every mom I know complains about this very thing from time-to-time. If you have to work at raising kids together, and being business partners, you also need to work on being a couple and sexual partners. And that means effort. From both parties. From what I've read, a lot of people cheat, especially men -- due to lack of sex at home. So its important to fix the problem if it is a problem. If he is not ready to lose the weight, maybe he can do something else. When my husband makes me laugh, it makes me more attracted to him, so I try to concentrate on that: how funny he is. But I still have bought him two gym memberships and tried to get him to go on Weight Watchers! right there with you
You got a lot of responses to ''lay off'' and to ''love him the way he is'', which are all very commendable, but are simplified answers to a more complex problem. I know, since I am in your same situation, and have tried any number of ways to get my husband to see that not only has his body become less aesthetically pleasing (the shallow side), but his health is compromised (the important part). Results of my husband's recent cholesterol and triglyceride blood tests were truly shocking. Add that to the fact that he is having trouble with his knees, sleep apnea, and back pain, and this becomes so much more than a shallow appearance issue. It really begins to affect the family as a whole. For example, I have only purchased life insurance for myself, since my husband's health means I can't afford the premiums for both him and me. I have wanted to leave my corporate job and venture out on my own, but I can't. I can't afford private health insurance if he is on our plan, plus pay out of pocket for any pre-existing condition. What does this mean for our future family health expenses? It becomes so much more than what just affects him and his health - it really becomes a family issue. Unfortunately, I don't have any good answers for you, but want you to know that others are in the same boat. I have tried talking to my husband and leading by example. He knows he needs to change his habits, but he doesn't. I have yet to find the magic bullet that will inspire him to take better care of himself, but when/if I do, I'll be sure to let you know. anon
I have to say, I was pretty disappointed to read the judgmental responses to your question. People would like to believe that weight and body size are simple matters of appearance and preference, but as a medical student I can tell you that the health issues that come about due to sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary choices, and obesity are extremely serious.

If you posted here that your husband was an alcoholic and didn't want to stop drinking, I'm sure you would get a lot of support. The fact is, refusing to accept that a moderate diet and regular exercise are necessary factors in health and well-being is just as damaging as abusing your body in more noticeable ways.

When I was refusing to accept that stress and depression were ruining my quality of life, my husband's gentle persistence finally got me to a therapist where I worked through my issues. My beloved husband is also a ''big, cuddly guy'' who at least 60 pounds overweight, pushing 40, and hasn't had his bloodwork done in ten years. I adore him and never want him to feel judged by me about his appearance. But he has a responsibility to me and our family to take reasonable measures to stay healthy, just as I do to him. So he is taking small steps to exercise 4 days a week, drink more water, eat healthier meals, and see a health-care provider for preventive care. I have to hold his hand with every step, but he's doing it.

Heart disease, for which diabetes and high cholesterol are major risk factors, is the leading cause of death in the U.S. What is the major risk factor for diabetes and high cholesterol? Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. A person's feelings may be hurt when they are told they need to lose weight, but that hurt is a lot less than losing your loved one to a preventable, premature death. health is worth it


HELP! How do I get back in shape?

Dec 2007

I need some serious help. Since the birth of my daughter I've MAYBE participated in physical activity of some sort a dozen times. Actually since I found out I was pregnant - which was over 2 years ago! I was never a crazy fitness nut before, although I did once train and complete a marathon, but that seems like another life ago. How do you healthy fitness moms do it? My problem is motivation, i.e. that I have none. I work full time and take care of my 15 month old. That's all I seem to have time for. I really want to at least start getting in some sort of workout once, twice a week. I'm realistic enough at this point to know that that's probably all I could handle right now. I just feel soooo unhealthy and tired all the time. What do you do to get exercise? And don't say the gym because I've joined, and subsequently QUIT so many gyms in my life that I could have probably saved up for her college fund by now. Classes that you go to? trainers that you work out with? activities you do on your own? and more importantly, how do you motivate to actually get out there and do it and STICK WITH IT??? longing to be healthy


I was in the same boat when my child was 3. I finally wandered into the Jazzercise studio down on Jacuzzi Street near the freeway. The class format is1/2 hour of aerobics then some dumbells and sit ups. The hour goes by quickly and everyone is friendly. It isn't a fashion show or at all competitive. Some of the classes have childcare. I lost some weight and got my energy back. It's been about 5 years and I'm still going to classes! anon
I don't like to exercise - at all. Add to that the stuff you describe - work and a toddler - who has time for something you DON'T enjoy? So I set up walking dates with my girlfriends. I LOVE being with a friend and the hour long walk (3 miles) goes by quickly and pleasantly. It's my friends that get me to go, the side benefit is health and a sense of wellbeing. Get your friends to help! walking mom
I work full-time as well, and care for my 9 month old when I am not working. On weekends, I go to the Baby Boot camp. It is a wonderful experience - a terrific workout, an opportunity to spend time outdoors, a way to exercise without trying to find daycare for my son, and a way to connect with other mothers, which can be tough when you work full-time. Find more info and schedules for classes near you at babybootcamp.com. I have no affiliation with the business; just a very happy customer! Trying to be healthy
Maybe you could start by buying a fold-up treadmill and start with no more than 30 minutes at a time walking/jogging on that, perhaps in the morning before work. You could do a few stretches and floor or ab exercises with your daughter there in the morning or evening; this would also help you relax. There are DVDs you can get for this, too; your daughter might like them. anonymous
I was in the same situation last year after giving birth to twins in 2005. I felt tired all the time, had raging migranes, and just didn't feel my body.

I called a personal trainer, but could not figure out a schedule for getting out of the house to train. Months later, she called me to suggest out-call sessions in my home. She came twice a week for an hour while the kids were napping. I was a competitive athlete for most of my life, but I was really starting at zero.

The trainer gave me gentle but challenging routines and increased the challenge as my health improved. She also does bodywork massage for the times I just needed to relax. Those two hours a week were essential personal care hours for me that didn't require a lot of motivation because the trainer came to me.

After just a few sessions, I felt much more energetic and good overall. That was last December. After a year of sessions, I can sprint up 140 stairs, jog uphill, and do full push-ups. My body feels toned and strong. I now use the routines she gave me, and have more time to get outside and do cardio. The trainer is Margo Rose. She's located in Alameda and her number is 510-910-3719. Good luck - you can do it! Kathryn


What about walking dates with friends? I am a part-time working mama with 2 babies under 1. I had a difficult recovery from birth and so ''exercise'' has been out of the question. But I've been really happy with the results of just lots of walking - on hills if possible. I make plans to meet friends or walk with my husband on the weekends. On weekdays I try to get out for walks before work with the kids. If you want to have your child in a stroller you can do weekend walks at the Lafayette Reservoir, Inspiration Point, Point Pinole. But hills are great for getting in shape, so some of the fire trails in the area are good if you can carry your child in a backpack. I like this because I feel like I'm with my family, pointing out the birds and the trees and our girls are entertained, and I'm getting in shape. walk walk walk
You have to find a buddy to work out with and you have to meet to workout. You have to be strict with each other and expect that the other one will show up. By having someone waiting for you there at the gym, that might be the motivation you need. Getting there is most of the battle. Once you are there, you are golden. So, find a workout buddy! My two cents
I recommend the Ice Chamber www.icechamber.com Maya and Steve are great! The morning bootcamp is awesome, 45 minutes and you are done, lots of new moms trying to get into shape. You are SO not alone, so good luck. Getting into shape is the best. Shauna
This may not work for you but this is what worked for me - I walked, pushing my child in the stroller. I walked fast, and I used it as a mode of transportation. For instance when I want to go some place I walk there, to get diapers or groceries and carry stuff back in the stroller. Of course I hated at first compared to the car but now I am totally hooked and mourning the fact that my child will be soon too big for the stroller. I find I can walk much faster and for longer with the stroller. Even if you do just a 2 hour walk every weekend, you'll find it's great exercise. I lost 20 lbs this way and didn't even diet! just a thought
What if you sign up for a 10K or Bay to Breakers? I am 8 months pregnant and due in Jan. I am thinking of signing up for the San Francisco 1/2 marathon in August (I've never run that far and have been completely inactive since I've found out I was pregnant) to help me get back in shape. Even if I run a couple of days a week it will help. My husband said he'll be supportive and will walk around the lake with the baby while I (try to) run. Audge
I think the biggest factors in motivation are results and environment. If you could start to see or feel the effects of your efforts, you'd probably be more motivated to stick with it. If the gym hasn't worked in the past, then it's probably not the right environment.

I highly recommend the Ice Chamber in Albany (www.icechamber.com). Check out their Before and After gallery for inspiration. Those results are actually fairly typical. The Ice Chamber isn't your typical gym - you can't just drop-in and work out (or avoid dropping in, which was always the case for me at a standard gym). They offer bootcamp classes in the morning so you could get in a class in before work. It's really challenging but incredibly effective and will improve not only your energy level, but your strength for daily tasks like carrying a 15 month old. But the real magic of the Ice Chamber is the people. There are lots of moms trying to get back into shape so you will feel supported. And the owners and trainers are the most wonderful group of incredibly knowledgeable and creative people. They will expect to see you and you will want to return, even though it's hard, because you know they are waiting for you and cheering you on your quest to get fit.

I assure you if you join and stick with it, you will feel better than your old self in no time. Been in your shoes


Try crossfitoakland.com - not 1x1 personal training, but the next best thing. Lots of variety, back to basics kind of fitness. Try the 6 am class - it gets your workout out of the way for the day and you will feel great. kerry
I can relate, and I'm sure lots of others can too, it's hard with and after pregnancy. I also hate gyms. The things that saved me are: 1) my exercycle - it's a recumbant, so it's comfortable, and the bargain I make with myself is that I ride in the evenings while watching TV (less guilt!); and 2) during my second pregnancy I hired a personal trainer to come once a month to help me figure out new 1/2 hour routines that I could alternate with exercycling. It worked wonderfully during my pregnancy (only gained 25 lbs vs. 45 the first time) and now I'm almost down to my pre-pregnancy weight (baby is 5 months). My trainer is THE BEST, he'll work with you in a gym or come to your house, show you how to use weights, do a zillion different exercises, and do his best to keep you engaged. His name is Mark Duvall and I can't recommend him highly enough, his # is 510 654-4977. The motivation of having someone come to your house once is a month is also a huge plus. Good luck! former exercise-phobe
How many gyms have I paid for and abandoned after the initial glamour of the hot tub and cool machines wore off? My wallet felt a lot more pain than my quadraceps. At the Ice Chamber, it's the other way around.

First, the Ice Chamber is not a gym. In fact, you can't work out by yourself; it's either group fitness or personalized training.

As for staying motivated, they do that for you (no kidding). Check out the blog and you'll see what kind of place it is: http://www.icechamber.com/blog -- completely supportive and motivating. I confess, I'm a lazy sloth, so if I didn't get a total high from working out there, my butt would be parked in front of the tv with a glass of cabernet. They make it fun. And Hard.

I won't lie. You'll sweat like Senator Craig in court. Moreover, there will be days when you just want to go straight to bed, but when you start to see the results, you'll get the itch and you won't need ''motivation'' to bring you back. If this sounds at all interesting, check out the website and give them a call.

By the way, like all fitness programs, it's not for everyone. It's not about how good you are, rather it's about how willing you are to be good. It's not the place to go if you're not going to give 100% while you're there. If you're more inclined to a 50-yard mosey than a 50-yard dash (even if your workout partner is holding plank waiting for you), then you probably want to go somewhere else. In short, if you have a can-do attitude (even if all you CAN do is a half sit-up) then check out the place that's made me as strong as I was when I was in college. -- Tsan


I'm not back in shape (e.g., pre-pregnancy weight) and don't exercise as much as I'd like but here is what I do: walk. Walk the dog, walk during lunch time, walk while I'm talking on the phone. It's definitely a lot less that what I'd like to do, but, thus far, it's the only thing I can reliably fit into my schedule. I try to do an hour each day: 5 min here, 10 there... and sometimes I go for a full 1-hour walk! Also finding it difficult to exercise...
I could have written your post. I found a couple of ways to get back in shape, but I didn't get it together until my youngest was 4 this year, so you are ahead of me! One way that worked was to join a nice (and I mean nice NICE) gym. It was really a treat to go, like a mini vacation at a posh hotel. It was $$$ but had free childcare, so my husband and I had a weekly date at the gym, so when you figure in paying for a babysitter once or twice a month plus the usual YMCA gym fee, it was about the same amount of money. But like most gym goers, I eventually stopped going. Most expensive gyms let you just stop going (no contract) but by then, I was in the exercise groove and didn't need the luxury to lure me into exercise. So then I started getting up early two days a week and resisted unloading the dishwasher, etc and did 1-2 ''10 minute solution'' video segments. That has been really easy to maintain. But the way I lost the most weight (2 pant sizes!!) was to stop eating any processed food and only having alcohol and desserts one day a week (TGIF!). I had to get myself organized, get a babysitter for the first couple of times, and got myself in the habit of making large pots of food from scratch. Freeze individual portions in zip lock bags, then you have meals for several weeks at a time. It really has made a big difference. good luck!
I used to be exactly the same as you! Forget gym memberships and yoga classes and diets! I never stuck at anything I started. Then a friend introduced me to Stroller Strides. You gotta try it. It was great! I met so many moms that I didn't even think twice about going back. Soon it was just part of my day. The workouts were excellent and I could bring my little one with me who had a ball. I lost almost all my weight and was back in shape in no time. Not only did the other moms motivate me but the instructors are great! I think the first week is free, so you should try it! From one mom to another mom
I can't say enough good things about Baby Boot Camp! Yes it does cost money but it is a great overall workout, social and a nice time to be with your baby. I did not drop the weight so quickly with my first and have been going regularly with my 2nd and it is keeping me in shape and feeling good. There are classes everywhere and on the weekends too, if you have gone back to work. It is in the morning so you have the rest of your day to do what you want. Try a class - you will be hooked. Glad to be back in shape
You may want to try pilates- it is a gentler way to get back into shape. Part of the reason i am thinking it may be a good way for you to start exercising again is that it sounds like you are low energy and pilates is great for creating more energy in the body without putting out a lot like you would in an aerobics class. i always feel energized from my pilates lessons even if i start off low energy, which i often do being that i work and take care of two little ones. i really love the trainer i work with Caitlin Smith- contact her at 508-1408. andrea

Exercise at 50

Oct 2007

I need some help here. As 50 approaches my stance of ''no time for exercise'' is wearing thin. I am worried about cardiac issues (a family history) and slow, but steady weight gain. I want to be around to see my kids grow up!

Any thoughts for a middle-aged guy who hates sports and has shunned excercise until now? Like most of us, I am pretty booked from 6 a.m - 8 p.m every day with work and family - but realize I need to make the time. I am willing to pay for this - but need to find the right approach. Clearly, self-motivation is an issue here! I looked at the Ice Chamber but am a bit terrified of the ''boot camp'' group approach. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks - Hate to Exercise - Need to Exercise


It's great that you're looking hard at making time for exercise. I think one of the issues is thinking about this as an unpleasant duty, which I, as a former couch potato, can understand, but it will work better (perhaps) if you think of this as a treat you are giving yourself. And THAT will work if it's something that you are going to enjoy. So, everyone will say that you should start slow. Start something you enjoy. Walk up in the hills, taking account of things that interest you (cars, skies, plants, houses, animals, humans, whatever's your thing). Start with a half-hour and work up to an hour, just go fast enough to make your heart beat a little faster (hills help, and they're beautiful). Lots of guys don't enjoy swimming so much, but if you like the water, try an early morning dip, just twenty minutes or so to start, then working up. If you like to cycle, that's a really great sport. People have the Lance Armstrong physique in mind when they think of cyclists (spandex, etc.), but I cycle long-distance and I am here to tell you that plenty of people with major girth are out there getting fit. You have to start on the flats (bay trail, etc.), then drive with your bike on a rack up to Tilden or your nearest place with ''rollies,'' and finally you can work up to cycling yourself up into the hills. A really good thing to do is design little ''triatholons'' for yourself if you enjoy all three things. You can start with just twenty minutes of each and challenge yourself with longer times and harder courses. And finally -- find a buddy or buddies. Someone in about your shape is best. That's especially good for cycling, you forget you're working sometimes. Have fun! The main thing... fifty and fitter than I was at thirty
I just turned 51 and was exactly are a year ago. I too dreaded the boot camp and frankly thought I might drop over from over exertion, heart problems, etc. I found an acquaintance, now a great friend, and asked to join her group who saw a personal trainer two mornings a week. It was both personal and social and extremely hard for me. I may have limped around for two months. The social part kept me going. Six months later I added in my own work outs at the Y and recently joined the Ice Chamber no longer feeling I would be utterly humiliated. I am still far from the most fit person at the Ice Chamber, and it is harder than anything I have done so far - but its great and they could not be more helpful. In retrospect I think I could have started there and moved along more rapidly. Most important for me, I am no longer feeling like I am in danger of dropping over. I think 50 really is a crossroad and you can approach impending older age with physical limitations or not. I urge you to act on your best impulses. anonymous
Some random thoughts:
*Bike or walk to work or BART station.
*Park in space farthest away from store or work entrance.
*If your kids are doing sports, run or walk while they're at 
practice.
*Yoga stretching or free weights at night while watching tv (or 
better yet, stationary bike or rowing machine etc.)
*Tag team parenting on the weekend so that you get an hour to 
exercise and then your partner gets an hour. Depending on your 
situation this can also work on weekday mornings if one parent 
can be ''on'' and the other gets to get up early to exercise and 
trade off days.
*After dinner family walks around the neighborhood.
need more hours in the day

Have you considered a sport ? Golf or tennis come to mind but there are many others. I just recently joined a tennis club after a long absence and am having a lot of fun. No, the workout isn't extreme but I'm meeting people, getting some exercise and (most importantly) enjoying myself while I'm doing it ! You could also involve your family and meld the two activities. It might be a good compromise - getting active but not over-doing it. - working on that backhand
The hardest thing about exercising when we have busy lives, family etc, is making the time. As a mother who works out 5-6 days per week and as a personal trainer I have a few suggestions for you.

First....figure out when you can exercise. Try to do it the same time every day that you exercise (esp. m-f). Maybe you can exercise Saturday, Sunday and 2 other days during the week. It's a start.

Do you want to go to a gym and work on equipment? All the gyms have trainers available to show you the equipment and will help you figure out a routine. Many gyms open at 5 or 6 Am. Do you want to do a circuit place like Curves? I know Curves is only for women but there are a few other places similar for men and women.

You can try some aerobic classes, step classes, etc. at various gyms. Richmond and Berkeley Y have lots of classes. THe Albany Y is a great place for a workout...lots of classes, equipment with trainers to help you...

Do you want to work out by yourself at home? You can do that with minimal equipment and expense...hire a trainer to come over and show you a routine with an exercise ball and a few free weights. With that kind of workout you can get your cardio a few times a week by r unning the streets, cycling, treadmill at home (larger expense), or buy exercise ''steps'' and do a few routines on them.

Do you like sports? Mens soccer, softball, fencing (great fencing school in El Cerrito), swim? What about dancing? Put music on and just dance for 30 miinutes. Great exercise. Invite your wife and kids to join you. Or go out dancing to Ashkenaz, dance jam, etc. on the weekend, OR....sign up for west coast swing, cajun, lindy hop, ballroom dancing. You can do it together which is GREAT for the relationship and also great exercise.

Many possibilities, but back to step one: MAKE THE TIME. It definately won't happen till you do that. Good luck and good health. June


After a slow and slightly painful start at Ice Chamber, I am now a total convert! Don't let the ''bootcamp'' name dissuade you - the folks who run it are amazing, inspiring, and will help you get adjusted. I'm about to turn 49 and started there when I was 47. I haven't felt this good physically in years and I'm not one of the more athletic participants, I've just stuck with it because the routine changes every day, the others exercising with you are all wonderful (and come in all shapes, sizes, and degree of fitness), and the owners and trainers are fabulous people! Lynn
I will say with confidence that Pilates can give you the boost and the results you need, if you work with an excellent teacher. But as a teacher, I'm partial to Pilates! I used to tell people you should not expect to lose weight from doing just Pilates, but experience with my clients has proved that wrong. Taking on an hour or two with an instructor (even in a group setting) plus doing some simple things several times a week on your own, can shift your metabolism, circulation, blood pressure, tone, and most importantly, transform your sense of peace about yourself.

Pilates was designed by a man, originally for men (ailing or injured soldiers in WW1) and has come to be known for women because of its dance world heritage. In my experience, men derive the same benefits and joy from their Pilates practice as do women. It is especially suited to folks who do not relate to traditional gym-type workouts or environments.

I have great respect for your desire to make this happen, and your loving motivation to be present for your children will lead you there. This can only sound self-serving but contact me and let's see if my studio would work for you or if I can recommend other excellent places for your training. Our studio operates from 6am - 9pm and on weekends. There are others that do too. Jennifer


Simple suggestion: Walk. This is something you can do at night, assuming that you feel safe around where you live, and you won't have to spend time in the car again to get to the gym. And you won't have to spend money on the gym, etc. It will help you relax and is a pretty easy way to get enough exercise. Two gizmos that help me are a little pedometer (an Omron HJ-112) that i keep in my pocket, and an iPod. I aim to get 10k steps a day (if i've had a rather motionless day at the computer, walking for an hour usually gets me there) and it's nice to have that as a goal. And listening to podcasts i love (pretty much all NPR news and fun shows like This American Life, and tons of other stuff including university courses are free) or music on an iPod really helps. Or get a walking buddy, human or canine. Even if i just do this 3 or 4 days a week, i feel a huge difference. anon
Yoga, Yoga, Yoga, Yoga, Yoga, Yoga! It's gentle, your energy will increase, and you won't feel like you are having to push yourself so much to participate. It might be easier to add a weight regime later, if you gain some strength in a gentler practice that is easier to do at home. Louise
I have similar problems--a slug who became pre-diabetic, weak kneed, and on. Now I am remarkably fit, my knees work properly, and I lost enough weight to get off my doctor's watch list. Here are some tips:

1. You will not be doing the perfect exercise regime. Accept that. What you need is the regime you can do for the rest of your life. You will always here that you need to do free weights, sit ups, some other obnoxious activities: find something that fits your life, gets you aerobic, and helps whatever particular weakness you have.

2. Everybody likes personal trainers. I do not have time for the gym and all that stuff. Someday maybe. So I put that right up there with #1, with things that if I have to arrange, I will never do.

3. Here's what I did: I got a good, sturdy elliptical (nordic track e9 is what I found) for under 300.00. I placed it in front of the television set. I am on it for about an hour 5 days a week. I watch entertaining shows, or dvds, or some more noble types can read. Find something to make it less boring.

4. After I am done, I get to ''cool down'' by watching another show, reading, or whatever. I have come to think of this as a rather peaceful, lovely interlude in my life. It is usually 11:30 pm.

5. I do short myself a little on sleep, because the exercise keeps me awake for a while. I could and have done some work during that time.

6. I have also heard that you can put a simple treadmill in a position under your desk, put your computer up high, and walk while you work.

I have been able to keep this up for more than 2 years, and it is a part of my life I look forward to. fiddle fit


in your message, you mentioned you were terrified of the bootcamp approach at the Ice Chamber. Trust me, there is NOTHING to be afraid of. Everyone there has had a first day, first week, first month. I actually think it is something you might find is perfect for you and helpo you achieve your goals. The trainers are such great people, who want to see everyone succeed in their goals. It's 45 minutes of pure workout energy, with great people, who, like you, are trying to get fit and deal with families, jobs, getting older, homes, etc. You can try doing their starter pack before you get into the boot camp. It will help you learn the different fundamentals that we incorporate in every class, so it will make you more comfortable with the pace. I am willing to bet one month at the IC and you'll be amazed at how great you feel. Kerri
For me the key to regular exercise was finding an activity that I enjoy doing. It is very difficult to stick with something just because you think you should. Fortunately you live in an area where so many options are available. You say you don't like sports but how about moving your body, breathing and putting attention toward your body. Perhaps try one of the many forms of yoga or dance. You could also check out the climbing gym, swimming, or hiking. My activity of choice as a 52 year old male is squash- a racquet sport that delivers a full body work out in an hour or less. (much better than tennis or racquetball). Check out the RSF at Cal. There you will find many different ways to get a good workout with many different types of classes. Sunday mornings from 11-12 there is free squash instruction for beginners. I would also advise setting your sights on something that appears to be achievable. If you expect to go from nothing to doing an activity 3 or 4 times a week then you are likely to fail and be back to nothing in short order. Hiking some hills in Tilden for an hour on the weekend alone or with others is a start. anon
Start by WALKING. I know many people who have lost plenty of weight by just walking, walking, walking. It's an easy, painless, free way to start, and it will be challenging enough to get into the habit. Take the stairs whenever it's physically possible. (amazing how much exercise you can get that way!). You'll start noticing more around you too. Park at the far end of the parking lot, get off the bus before your stop. It's so healthy! Likely no injuries either. When walking gets too easy for you (it's not easy for many who are out of shape), then you can start thinking (on your walks) about a gym program. Bring an umbrella! It's very refreshing in the rain!

How to start getting fit

June 2007

Where/how to begin getting fit? I'm in my 40s, and get very little exercise. I have a desk job and do just one exercise class a week. I am out of shape. The cost is right, but I don't want to just join a gym or Curves since I really don't know what is the best exercise program for me. I want an actual plan of action. Where to start? it's time for action


About a year ago I was in the exact same place as you: in my 40s, out of shape, desk job, and getting very little exercise. When I told my doctor that I walked a lot, she said ''that's nice, now what are you going to do to exercise?''. I found a *wonderful* place through this newsletter: Ice Chamber (www.icechamber.com). They have 6am, 7am, and 9:30am classes as well as 6:30pm classes during the week, a Saturday 10am class, and personal training throughout the week. The instructors are amazing, the class is challenging and fun, and the results are the real reason to go. About a month ago I added Bikram Yoga to my routine which really rounds things out: the hard-core athletic performance training from Ice Chamber and the challenging stretching and posing from yoga. I've never felt better and highly recommend that you try Ice Chamber. Lynn
Just start walking! In the East Bay, we have easy access to wonderful hiking trails, and they are all free. You can do gentle walks as you get in shape, and then hit the hills for a serious aerobic workout. I got into serious hiking when I got a dog, because she loves to go on walks so much. Now I'm out there several times a week, and I have never been in such good shape. It's also a great way to catch up with friends -- instead of going out for drinks, take a weekend hike together. Hiker
I am someone who has struggled with getting fit my whole life, injured my knees the few times I tried, had a variety of back problems recur since college. About three years ago, at age 34, I made the investment in Pilates and it has been fantastic. It costs more than joining a gym, definitely, but the one-on-one attention, the emphasis on alignment and core strength, have all been really great for me. Ellie Herman Studios in Oakland offers a package deal that gives you 8 private sessions, 8 mat classes, and 8 reformer classes for $750. They call it the ''Boot Camp.'' Go to ellie-dot-net. It's a good deal, relatively speaking. But if you're really starting from scratch, the one-on-one sessions alone are probably the best way to begin. That's what I did. There are instructors who specialize in rehabilitation but that will cost more. Ask for someone who is in training, and rates may be as low as $25/hour. (The person I see, Karen Fox, is a master-level teacher and charges $75/s! ession.) 510.594.8507 Julie
I recommend www.bodyforlife.com BUT I must qualify it by saying we skipped all the supplements and other ''hype'' stuff (the weight lifter bodies freaked me out a bit) and just followed the basic premise of the importance of brief daily exercise in the morning and 6 small balanced meals per day (we followed the no junk and yes protein plan fairly rigidly). We have young kids that make this harder, but we both managed to do it quite successfully from home, without a gym membership. getting fit too
I certainly have experienced your sentiments after gaining a lot of weight from changing to a desk job after teaching for many years, having a baby, and satisfying a sweet tooth all too often. What I found worked for me is a combination of approaches: joined a gym that had good classes and an nice environment to work out in, worked with a personal trainer to teach me proper form and variety of exercises to do in addition to the classes and other cardio, and have been consulting with a licensed nutritionist who has been extremely informative and motivating. I can say that I have finally lost weight, and on top of that feel great about my increased strength and energy from strength training and a drastically improved diet. I feel better than ever. I can highly recommend my trainer, Karen Parker and my nutritionist, Manuel Villacorta in case you're interested. Good luck! Finally Feeling Fit

Exercise: How to Get Started

August 2005

I've planned for days, weeks, months to start an exercise program. I don't live anywhere near a gym and don't have any buddies to hook up with for motivation or companionship. I have a library full of books on the subject. But I haven't figured out a way to engage in a regular exercise program that is successful, consistent, and/or sustained. So if anyone has any tips on how to get started on a regular exercise program, what exercises to do to get going, tapes, etc, I would really really appreciate the advice. thanks!


Get a bike. Walk. Just do it. You CAN do it!!!
Maybe what's missing is a group or group accountability. I was in the same place--needed exercise for post-partum issues, better quality of life and more energy, and because I was overweight. I knew what I needed to do, but didn't do it. I finally went to Weight Watchers and it was the best thing I've ever done in my life. I began exercising regularly, was inspired to try new things, met people to exercise with, and was accountable to a group. It has totalyl changed my life, I've lost 50lbs, I feel great, and I'm going to run a 1/2 marathon in October! I needed the accountability factor, group support, encouragement from others. And once I finally started and started seeing the results, I was compelled on...A year ago I couldn't run 1 mile; today I run 15. You can do it too!!! weight watchers fan
I had been absolutely sedentary for almost a year when I knew I had to get started exercising again. The thing that absolutely saved me is that my family gave me iPod mini. I loaded it with all of my favorite music and just started walking. It got me wanting to go out every day, walking faster and faster and then ultimately started running a bit. I now run/walk every day for about 3-4 miles and I am really attached to it. I really can't exercise without my music but now it is quite Pavlovian. You can get an iPod shuffle for only about $100. It's worth it when you consider gym memberships. Happily Active Now
I feel your pain at not having an ''easy'' way to get started with regular excercise. What has worked for me is to stop driving (sometimes it's absolutely necessary to drive - but you'd be surprised at how often it's not). So, instead of driving to work, I walk.... Instead of driving to the grocery store, I take a backpack and walk. Once you have been walking for a few weeks and start to feel more energetic, you can incorporate other excercise more easily since the motivation levels increase once weight has been lost and it becomes easier to do it. Start slow and only modify (ie walk) what naturally comes to you - that way you can't make excuses about why you can't go to the gym or class or WW meeting or whatever. Also - you probably know this, but I always take the stairs now, try to carry instead of push, etc. Try to take the hard way in what seems like simply things. Good luck! not much motivation, but still walking
I had books, tapes, cancelled gym memberships etc.. and was having no exercise in my life. Note that this is post kids (ages 4 and 7)and I used to be in great shape. Life is so full and busy that I just couldn't do much. The only thing that has worked for me is to incorporate exercise into my life routine and be happy with what it is. So since I work three days a week, I give myself a 35 minute walk on the days I work by getting off the bus earlier than my stop. I take the stairs at work and walk on breaks. Also, I can bike with my 7 year old and swim a lap or two when I take them swimming at the pool (now that they are a bit older). The bottom line is that this is all I can do right now and I have to be happy with it. Anything is better than nothing!! hbl
If you are a gadget nerd, then perhaps what worked for me will work for you: 1. An iPod (or iPod shuffle - small, portable, and customizable with tons of tunes). 2. A Heart Rate (HR) monitor. 3. (Optional) The book (I know you said you have many): the Heart Rate Monitor's Guide for the Compleat idiot. (John Parker) I have been unable to sustain an excercise program for the past 4 years, despite the fact that pre-baby I was very assiduous about working out. However, my hubby had this book and an old HR monitor (about $40) and we had the iPod. The premise is that you only go as hard as your heart lets you - so given your level of fitness, it could be slower or faster, and that you must recover properly on some days, and train hard enough on others to stave off injury and sustain a fitness program. The book has testimonials of all sorts of runners who did just that, as well improved their Personal Bests in 5&, 10ks and marathons. I haven't run any races, but this has helped me sustain an excercise program for the longest streak in 4 years. It did give me was a plan of attack, and an ''Ok'' to be slow, or rather VERY SLow. I have been following the plan (the 4 week Novice- starting-from- scratch plan, and then graduating to the 12 week Novice plan)for about 9 weeks. When i started, I WALKED every workout. Most of the workouts (4 days per week) were at 70% of your heart rate max. I was often exceeding my 70% just walking!

I was going SO slow, but I felt justified because the book said it was OK. I have, over the course of 9 weeks, started to run for most of the workouts, and better yet, I have been able to run some serious distance (5 miles) - at least serious for an out-of-shape person. And I have added a day of excercise. All without feeling hurt, tired or like giving up. The idea is that on ''recovery'' days, one should go 70% of your max HR. The intensity day is at 85% of one's max HR. The author feels that without monitoring your HR you don't go slow enough on recovery nor do you go hard enough on intensity days to achieve any sustainable benefit, or worse you get hurt (we aren't getting any younger here). I have to say that I love the HR monitor because on days when I am tired for other reasons, it gives me an excuse to stop and walk!! For the record, I am still mind-numbingly slow (I was passed yesterday by a speed-walking octogenarian, even though I was ''running''), but I have seen incredible improvement, nearly every day recording a faster time, and a significant reduction in my resting HR. Constantly checking the gadgets help the time go by faster during excercise as well. The iTunes playlist has mostly fast-paced 8o's music (think Depeche Mode, and Boy George)to keep me going. Being able to customize the music so every song is one I love helps a lot when I am out there. There is also something to be said for a plan that someone has already thought out for you. My husband, running the ''Intermediate'' plan, often modifies it if the mood strikes, but I cannot think that much. Sorry to be so long winded. Good LUCK. You can do it!!!


Good for you for wanting to move on this. You can start by going for walks...dog walks, baby stroller walks, solo walks...on the streets, on a nearby school track, etc. I''ve been ''forced'' to walk cause I have a dog who needs lots of exercise. In addition to that I recently started working with a trainer. This person comes to my house. So far I''ve seen her 3 times at 3 week intervals. She gave me some strength tests to see where my strengths and weaknesses were. Then she gave me a program of exercises that takes me 20-30 minutes per day. I rotate the exercises so one day I do upper body and the other days do lower body. This is in addition to walking. I feel SOOOO much better and stronger and am starting to see results physically.

There are loads of great trainers around. My trainer is Cindy Snyder, 684-8418. She's really great and makes it fun and not boring. She uses an exercise ball and light weights. You don't need to go out and buy expensive equipment at all. She also gave me a program using elastic bands for when I was recently travelling. Good luck. anon


Hi - I'm no expert but I have finally restarted regular exercise and maintained it the past several months. Everyone says pick something you love - sounds great, but I had to pick something that fit into my schedule, even though I didn't love it. Right now that something is running, because it packs a lot of activity into a short timeslot, with little prep time required. When I was pregnant it was swimming.

What works for me is to set a schedule and stick to it, no matter what. When I start saying to myself ''I shouldn't run today because I'm not feeling great'' or something, I force myself to just get out there and start, and tell myself I can do just half the time if I feel unwell. When I was swimming I'd force myself to at least get into the pool and do a few laps, even if I didn't think I had time. And usually I'd go ahead and do my full workout. When I couldn't run because I had blisters I did some exercises on my mat at home. Anything to keep that schedule sacred. For me, the natural resistance I have to starting (getting out of bed, getting into the water) is more than half the battle, and if I force myself to overcome that, the pattern is maintained and I still feel good about myself and am encouraged to keep at it.

I motivate myself by reminding myself that I'm only getting older and this is the easiest time left in my life to start exercising, and also by looking around at people with mobility problems or injuries who wish they could exercise, and counting my blessings. Despite the fact that I don't love it, I have also come to value it as mental quiet time, otherwise totally lacking in my busy life. I've chosen to make it a priority which means sometimes other things in life suffer slightly to accomodate it, but that is what it takes for me.

Best of luck - I'm hoping I can keep following my own advice! - Charis


I hate exercise. I find it boring and tiresome and resent the time it takes when I feel I have other more pressing or inspiring needs. I have young children, I work out of the house, and have a spouse who works long hours. I can't leave the house early for walks or jogging, and exercising late at night isn't for me either. However, what inspires me is the thought of my health and mortality. I am an older mom whose own mother died too early, and I want to be around for my children as long as possible. It is my responsibility to do all I can to take care of myself and set a good example to my children. Everytime I read yet another report on obesity, cholesterol, heart attacks, etc., I get up 30 minutes early and exercise to a dvd (thank you, Netflix). Or put down the car keys and walk my children to/from school. Or put on music and dance around the kitchen with my kids. Now if only I could start flossing regularly... With You On This
Getting motivated to make changes is a challenge for us all. There is actually lots of research about this now. One concept that I find helpful is the Stages of Change theory. It is a circle with several concepts on the circle:

1. pre-contemplation--where the thought of change is not even on your mind 2. contemplation--where you are only thinking of the possibility of making a change 3. preparation--where you have made small changes and are making plans to change and intend to make changes within the next month 4. action stage--you are doing it! 5. relapse--where you return to an earlier stage I like this model because if you are in the contemplation stage, you are on the road to making changes! So don't beat yourself up, if you feel you are not doing anything. The trick is to figure out how to move yourself along.

That's where Motivational Interviewing comes along. There is a lot of new research on this as well. Many dietitians are getting trained in this method. I have received training from a Health Psychologist at Kaiser, so that is another place to pursue this.

This method assumes there is a lot of ambivalence about making changes, so helps the client sort these feelings out.

1. One tool is to make the old pro/con chart. What are the benefits and concerns that you have if you make no change in your exercise habits; and what are the benefits and concerns you have if you do make changes. Make a chart and brainstorm for 3 minutes.

2. Another ''exercise'' is to make a list of what you like about exercise. What is good about it for you, how does it make you feel. List as many things as you can in 3 minutes. Good luck. I know you will make the change you want when you are ready! A Registered Dietitian


What works for me is to set VERY realistic goals. So, for example, start with just 20 situps per day. Do it everyday for however long it takes you to get up the motivation to do 25 situps, or to add some other calisthenics. And/or you can buy some 5 lb weights and learn simple arm exercises on the internet or using an exercise video, and then just do 8 repetitions with the weights on each arm each day. It takes 1 or 2 minutes, and just tell yourself that 1 or 2 minutes is better than no minutes. For me, once I'm back to the idea of every day, it naturally extends itself. But the trick is to do it everyday, and to remember the mantra that ANY minutes is better than no minutes! Good luck! it adds up!

Exercising at home, at night

June 2004

So, I've finally realized that in order to realistically get some regular exercise, I have to do it inside after my 15-month-old goes to bed (her dad works nights). I've been doing those old Tae-Bo tapes. Does anyone have any good exercise tapes/dvds that worked for you? Does anyone have any indoor exercises that they do regularly that are simple but successful? I don't have a treadmill and I can't really buy any equipment. I've checked the archives, but didn't see anything. --still trying to lose the baby-fat


I know you said that you can't really buy equipment, but I've gotten a lot of mileage out of a step and step videos. I can vary my indoor workout from easy to quite hard, depending on how much time I have and how I feel. It's also really easy to store away the step. I still like using the Kathy Smith step videos, but I've also heard good things about Cathe Friedrich (she also has killer resistance workouts!).

If you're also thinking about resistance exercises, an exercise tube is really cheap and also easy to store away safely. The Prevention magazine website has a lot of home exercise routines you might want to try. Some require weights and some don't. I've used a few of their routines on-and-off for years.

I'd recommend a yoga video (Total Yoga), but there's nothing more annoying to me than being interrupted by my kids during the relaxation section. I never do yoga at home unless the kids are gone! Good luck! working out any way I can


Inside exercises like---Skipping rope, jumping-jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, free weights and toning exercises (leg lifts) alone could take a few pounds off. Goodluck anon
Take a look at the Teresa Tapp website: www.ttapp.com. I definitely lost inches with this method and you can do the exercises indoors in a very small space. Now, if only I had kept it up! Every time I re-start, though, I notice an almost immediate result in looser clothing. Good luck! Having fun trying
I would suggest getting a resistance band and doing some strength training exercises. Strength training not only tones and tightens your muscles, but it also helps to raise your metabolism, increase your muscular endurance, improve your posture, strengthen your bones, and reduce your chances of injury. You can easily strength train at home. A set of 3, 8, and 10 pound handheld free weights will cost you less than $50. A couple of resistance bands in 2 different colors (more/less resistance)will only set you back about $20. You can buy them at most sporting goods stores or online at www.babybootcamp.com. There are so many exercises you can do with these bands you'll never get bored. Add in some lunges and squats and you've got a great workout without ever leaving your home! Anna
Jump rope. It worked for Rocky, it will work for you. zac
The video ''Your Personal Best'' with Elle MacPherson is good. You need to use a chair and weights for part of it. Good aerobic and strengthening bits. Liz
How about a mini trampoline (called ''rebounders'' these days. You can get one at Big 5 for about $30.00 (or pay $250.00 for the spiffy ''rebounder'' type on line). They are easy to put away in a closet or under the bed when not in use. You can jump, jog, bounce, dance, etc. for 5-10 minutes, or even 2-3 minutees a few times a day and get a great workout. That sort of movement is really good for the lymph system/ie:immune system, metabolism, getting in shape etc. And it doubles as a fun toddler/little kid/bigger kid activity. I think it's a great alternative to larger, more expensive exercise equipment. Good luck, june
The name is off-putting but the exercises do really work. This DVD was recommended to me a mom of two who is a self- proclaimed ''exercise video guru.'' Tammylee Webb's ''I want that Body'' really is great - it's six different 15 minute routines, 2 each of abs, arms and butt. All routines get your blood pumping and you can mix and match as you please. It really helped me get back in shape and because you can do as much or little as you like it's great when you have to squeeze it in with kids - available on Amazon. Also - the tried but true, (if you can get past the eighties music) Jane Fonda's ultimate workout... 20 minutes of aerobics... I think the whole tape is 1.5. hours or so... only for the really serious.. good luck gzk
I bought a mini stepper at a used sports store in Alameda for $59. It really helped me lose the ''baby-fat'' and is small enough to store in a closet or behind a chair, under a table, in my house it is under the piano. Also, I have some Pilates videos that you can buy at many places, and do plain old crunches that you can see demonstrated on the web at Active.com. If all else fails, just put on some music and move! Amy
You might be interested in pilates- is great for toning and working on posture and getting those abs conditioned- is not aerobic though. Stott Pilates has some really good videos- you can order them online:they explain important fundamentals which a lot of videos don't. Their website is stottpilates.com. All you need to do pilates is a mat or just put a couple towels under the floor. You don't need any fancy gear or anything. Good luck. a pilates teacher andrea
I've had great results with the T-Tapp videos by Teresa Tapp. Her website is www.t-tapp.com. These exercises can be done in 15 minutes a day, standing in a relatively small space, and they are low-impact yet aerobic. In just a month I noticed a big difference, lost 10 pounds, inches melted off, and my posture and energy were better all day. Ann

How do you find time to exercise?

2001

Does anyone with a full time job and a toddler have time to exercise? If so, I am looking for tips. But I need realistic tips - there is no way I going to get up at 5am to go running or anything like that. I was thinking that maybe there are a couple of people - moms or dads who want to start a fairly unambitious plan and would like to get together and figure out some way to squeeze in a little exercise. Luckily there is already yoga at lunch right here in my department (EECS) so I am really really going to go to that from now on, but I also want to do a bit of aerobic stuff.
Melanie


Regarding time to exercise etc, by Melanie. I don't know how other people do this! I have a full-time job (graduate student), and a son (1 year old) in daycare, 8 to 5 or so, M-F. The last thing I have wanted to do is get Curt out of daycare at 5 and put him in a childcare program at the Y while I go do aerobics (my preferred exercise) for 60 to 90 minutes. But I need exercise! Walking in the evening doesn't happen, as it seems like a "we'll do it after we eat" activity that doesn't happen cuz it's then "curt wants to be with mom and dad (and we with him)" and then it's "get ready for bed" time.

It seems that the only way to get aerobic exercise is to do what I can't bear which is to put Curt in another daycare while I exercise, which still doesn't take care of the lack of time (my work doesn't end at 5).

One possibility is this. We've thought about doing exercise every other day or so, husband and wife alternating taking care of Curt while the other parent exercises. Maybe this is the best way. Every other day is better than never.

I too am interested in (other) practical alternatives (are there any?). Like Melanie, I'm not getting up at 5 or 6 or even 7 to exercise. I prefer exercising between 5 and 7 in the evening.

Peg


In response to exercising when working fulltime: If you're working on campus, there is a walking group that meets at the Campanile on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12:10. We stretch and walk for 30-35 minutes on three different routes. The walkers are at all levels and go different speeds. The size of the group varies and is usually all women. It's very enjoyable to get out at lunch and walk around the campus. You should try it. Debbe
This is one that I constantly struggle with. Before an injury, I played soccer. I found I could continue during (!) and after giving birth because my teammates were so supportive. Many had kids and would help each other watch them when mom was on the field. I also hired a sitter to sit on the side lines. At women's tournaments, you'll often see lots of kids. (I was impressed when I was in London recently and I saw a ad for pick up games at which childcare was provided.) Practice of course is harder and I wouldn't have made it often if the team I played with had held practices. But at least once a week I got 90 minutes of intense exercise. I would suspect one might find a similar atmosphere in other local women's teams sports.

During the week, I did and still do go to the gym -- but I find I can only do it at 5 or 6 AM, later on the weekends. Recently what has helped is paying a little extra (gulp) to meet with a trainer twice a month. That motivates me to go and work more intensely when I do go. I still can not get up every morning so early. I know some who go to the RSF during their lunch hour. I've considered that, but one hour doesn't seem like enough time to get there, exercise, shower and get back to work. Some gyms have childcare -including I think 24 hour Nautilus and the Oakland YMCA. I was very disappointed when my gym dropped childcare from their moving/renovation plan and that will be a consideration when my renewal comes up.

I find it difficult to get as much exercise as I'd like. When I could run, I found the jog-stroller to be a great thing and my son loved to ride in it. With this injury, I'm totally frustrated because running and soccer are out.

Martha- mother of 2.5 year old Miles


I am fortunate that I can bicycle to work, so I get all the exercise I need that way. I even bicycle my son to preschool--have been doing it since he was about 8 months old. (I have a child seat on the back of my mountain bike.) But even if you can't commute by bicycle, it's still a great way to get recreational exercise with a child who weighs under 40 pounds. On weekends we usually take family bike rides together. Sometimes we even take our son to the carousel or trains in Tilden Park by bike. Fran
I would like to respond to the issue of finding time to workout. As a single parent of an active 3 1/2 y.o. I can attest to feeling extremely overwhelmed with trying to do everything and still have quality time for your child. I, however, am a firm believer in the "happy mommy makes happy baby" equation.

For a brief period of time I ceased going to the gym and noticed my energy level drop and stress level increase. I believe that as an active, hard working parent you deserve to have that time to yourself. Besides, if you are fortunate you may find a place that your child really likes going to.

I usually prepare my child in the morning by telling him that we will be going to the gym after I pick him up from school. He is usually enthusiastic about going, and is prepared to go when I pick him up. Throughout life there will constantly be obstacles thrown our way which test our priorities and devotion to family. If you truly want to find that time for yourself...there's a way. It may just take some scheduling adjustments. Utilize your weekends, and then shoot for one or two days during the week. Besides, think of the good example that you are providing for your child regarding being healthy. Tamara


1. The Courthouse gym on Telegraph Ave. has a childcare co-op - I think - you can get a reduced membership fee if you help out with childcare. It also has a parking lot!!!!
2. Tang Health Center has some noon-time classes for faculty/staff about exercise - maybe someone on the list knows about them and can post info?
3. The campus gym (RSF) has noon-time classes but you must already be a member (about $25 month) and there is usually a fee of $30 or so for 6 weeks.
4. For grade-school kids, 5 and up: RSF has inexpensive taekwando classes - if you're a member you can use the gym while they have their class. Too bad RSF doesn't accommodate campus parents - no child care, kids not allowed to use gym,pool,ball courts, etc. except in rare programs.
5. It will get better: my toddler is a teen now who gets up in the morning to run with me. We both enjoy this time together.
Re: exercise. After our kids finished parent co-op preschool, another mom and I calculated that we'd take the evening we formerly dedicated to board meetings and parent ed meetings, and get some exercise.

We joined Berkeley Folk Dancers at Live Oak Park. This is a venerable organization that meets to dance five nights a week. The instructors are terrific (there is instruction at every level) and once you advance through beginners, you can come more than one night a week, between 7:45 and 10:00 p.m.

Professor Bill Lidicker (Integrative Biology/MVZ) and his wife Louise were our beginners teachers last year, and they are currently teaching the intermediate class this year. They are wonderful. There are other folks from the UC community there, too. There is an added bonus to this form of exercise: not only is it fun, and quite aerobic, but we have made many elder friends -- something that one easily misses, if separated from parents/grandparents by the miles.

Melissa


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