If I had something like Perugia's historic aqueduct to climb, say a dozen times a day, I wouldn't have to fork out $65 (Cdn) per month to the YMCA! But I don't, so I'm a gym rat.
Fellow blogger Chiocciola posted an excellent suggestion on Slow Travel this week, suggesting that as part of the February blogging challenge, we might occasionally ask each other questions to trigger a response and provide a blog topic. Great idea, Chiocciola, sometimes it's hard to think of a fresh topic.
Her question to me concerned my gym routine; more specifically, how I organized myself to keep at it. She suggested this because I've mentioned (whined, perhaps) about my workouts. I've been working out since about 1983 (think Jane Fonda, headbands, Flashdance, legwarmers....) Ah, the good old days: hard-core aerobics in bad shoes on concrete floors. It's amazing we still have knees.
As a slight bit of background, by 1983 I had hit close to 250 pounds and I was only in my early 20s. I had to do something. I began to diet (crash diet, at times) and took up exercise -- aerobics, running (til my back gave out) and finally, straight gym work.
I've lost some weight and learned that the only way to keep it off -- to say nothing of losing more -- is to commit to sensible eating and exercise. (I should also note that my rules apply only in North America! On any other continent, all bets are off.)
So, for what they're worth, here are a few tips that have worked for me.
1. You really have to commit. I tell myself that I don't assume I can brush my teeth just once a week or shower monthly. So why should exercise be occasional? Accept the fact that your workout has to become routine, period.
BTW, making exercise part of your routine is essential to staying organized and on track. Once it's a habit, you'll keep your gym bag stocked and hit the gym, almost on autopilot. Try not to make it a choice.
2. Make things as easy as possible for yourself. Find a place that's very convenient. I deliberately chose a gym midway between my office and home. I pretty much have to walk past it every day. No excuse for not going in. I think there may be cheaper gyms in the suburbs, but that's a false economy -- I'd never get there if it's out of the way.
3. Pick the time of day that really works for you. A lot of people swear by morning workouts before work, so they won't be distracted at the end of the day and skip their workout. More power to them, but I've always hated mornings (except weekends) so I go after work. My routine is 3 nights a week, plus every Saturday and Sunday.
4. Have at least 3 gym outfits (for me, holey T-shirts and yoga pants) and resign yourself to doing laundry often. Seriously, don't leave yourself short of clean gym clothes because that can become an excuse to skip.
5. Keep your gym bag stocked all the time. Again, it sounds neurotic, but after every workout as soon as I get home, I throw the sweaty gym stuff in the laundry hamper, and immediately get a clean set and put 'em in the gym bag for the next time.
6. Keep your gym shoes just for the gym and always keep them right beside the gym bag. (But not inside; I let them air out a bit overnight.) If everything is right there, it's easy to shove it all in in the morning. Keep your gym lock in one shoe, always. Then you know where it is.
6A. I also leave about 3 pairs of sox and all my gym bras in the gym bag. It gets a bit heavy, but that way you always have sox and bras (which you might otherwise forget). I also keep Blistex, a water bottle and gum (my mouth gets dry) in the bag all the time.
7. Keep props handy. I usually have a magazine and my iPod in the gym bag. Workouts can get awfully dull, so the more distractions available, the better.
8. Make the gym a routine. I realize I sound totally anal about this stuff, but it really has to become second nature. If you let yourself skip too often, then that becomes your routine.
9. Don't rely on others. If you have a friend that wants to join you, great. But that can be a dangerous habit -- if she can't join you, it becomes an easy excuse to skip.