How I Exercise & How I Got Started

I had a great question asked in my Weigh-in Week 89 post from Charity – welcome back Charity, so happy to see you blogging again!  She asked me if I had any tips on the fitness side and how I got started. Well, I don’t know if I have any tips per se, but I can definitely share how I got started. Watch out – this is a wordy one! Click on any of the links to read the original post about my adventures in exercise.

Now, of course, I have to do the requisite disclaimer – I am not a doctor in any way, shape, or form so please listen to your doctor and your body when starting your own fitness program. What worked for me may not be right or work for you!

As a quick reminder and for all my new readers (welcome!!!) I re-started my weight loss journey in May of 2010, but I didn’t really get started and serious until about August 2010. I knew that I wanted to incorporate exercise and activity in my life, but I also knew I wanted to be realistic about it. If I over did it from the start then it would be a bust and eventually I’d tire of it. So I started by walking home from work. Yup. That’s all. Now, I live in a major urban city where walking is the norm and a very convenient way to get around. My walk from work took me 1 hour when I started in August and took me up and over a Mount Royal in downtown Montreal (not like the Rockies or anything, but still a big hill). I did that 3 times a week (because I was working part-time at this particular office) and I also started doing a video workout at home on the weekends. The video was a free one I’d received from Weight Watchers a LONG time ago and was about 30mins long. You can read my first post all about this here! I’d say it was very similar to the Walk Away the Pounds videos I’m about to mention 😉

I also started to do more videos at home. I am huge fan of the Walk Away the Pounds videos by Leslie Sansone. They’re great for those of us who have more weight to lose because walking is realatively easy on the joints. I bought the 1, 2, and 3 mile walks. I’ve also, since, gotten the 5 mile walk and in fact still do it at home from time to time. Be forewarned the 5 mile includes some jogging throughout.

To motivate myself on the WW forums I started joining monthly challenges that included how many minutes of activity I would try to get in in one month. I started with 600 minutes a month and now sit comfortably at 1200 minutes a month (or about 20 hrs so approx. 5 hours a week). I also made a pact with myself that I would only count activity that was above and beyond my day-to-day activities as exercise. If I walk to meet a friend for 15mins that is NOT exercise, that is my life. If I do a video for 30mins at home though, that counted. I still take part in the monthly challenges and keep track of my results here if you’d like to check them out.

I also keep track of all my exercise on an excel spreadsheet. This way I can see how my pace changes with different runs and keep track of the weights I’m using. It’s great to be able to go back and find out how far I’ve come. The excel spreadsheet I use is SUPER simple. You can find it here at this post.  Sheryl Yvette (aka Bitchcakes) also has one you can download to use. It’s in her right-hand sidebar.

When I got down to 200lbs I had made a pact with myself that I would start to run. My brother is a runner which is how I got into it. I also wanted something I could do that didn’t require a gym. Well lo and behold I decide to start running January…in Montreal…so off to the gym (d’oh!) I go because there is no way I am going to run outside in -20C temperatures! I taught myself doing to the Couch to 5K program. You can read about my beginnings in running here!  I followed the metric version of the C25K right here.

Since I mention above I am a fan of only committing to how much I could do realistically, I chose to follow the program only twice a week. I still did all the sessions, but it took me longer. I finally switched to three times a week in the last couple weeks because I had entered a 5K race in April 2011 as my motivation! Woohoo! I ran the race, no chickening out for this one. I had to walk twice, because I ran too fast at the get-go. It was my first race and I had no idea how much adrenaline would kick in and how exciting it would be. My time was 35:40. So proud of myself!

From this point on I was hooked on running and continued to run. To give myself another goal, because I work best when I have a clear and attainable goal to aim for, I signed up for a 10K at the end of September. I found a training program that fit my abilities on a UK site right here. Since I could already run for 30mins straight, I picked it up in week three and did in fact train 3x a week. My time was 1:07:46! And I didn’t walk once! Woohoo! I have been running regularly since the 10K and have done a couple 10Ks on the weekends since.

In October 2011 I decided to focus more on my weight training. I had been doing the same routine for about a year at this point and it wasn’t anything particularly smart – I just used the machines I knew how to use properly and did arm and leg exercises. Well in October a friend of mine who is a personal trainer made me a full body program to switch it up.  I usually do it two days a week, or at least one if I can’t make it twice.

Nowadays my ideal workout schedule that I’ve spent a year and a half building up to (and losing over 90lbs to have the endurance and strength) is that I run three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. Short runs (approx 20-30mins) on weekdays and long runs (7.5K +) on weekends. I also do weights twice a week, full body workout.

However December threw this all askew and the current winter months aren’t helping much because I have to go inside to run (I am still NOT ready to run outside in -20C (-4F) temperatures! So I try to work out as much as I can and right now it’s at about 2 runs a week and 2 weight training sessions.  I still walk as much as I can – walking is fantastic for you regardless of weight. I used to do a long 7K walk once a week in better temperatures, but I haven’t done that in a few weeks. I have been breaking out the videos though, I still do the Walk Away the Pounds 5 Mile one. It’s a great work out and now I can put even more energy into to get more out of it 🙂

I will continue to say, when it comes to activity find something you like. If you enjoy classes or sports then take the classes or sign up for a team at your local community centre. It doesn’t really matter what yoy do as long as you’re moving and challenging your body! Doing what you like doesn’t make it feel like exercise and probably means you’ll keep at it longer. I, for instance HATE, absolutely HATE the stairmaster. You will never find me on one. But I love running and now I have plans to enter a half-marathon in September 2012.

If you have a lot of weight to lose then definitely talk to your doctor and start small. Aquafit is great as it lessens the impact on the joints and walking is always good as you can increase pace or stride length as you get stronger and build endurance.

I even have a list of things I’d like to start doing again – like cycling. You couldn’t get me off my bike when I was kid, I’d like to re-capture that.  I’d love to get back into swimming also. Body issues in my teens took me away from that one – time to conquer that voice in my head! I also want to start hiking in the summer, or even get back into tennis, or  ice skate again and maybe even take up more winter sports – like learning how to ski. So much to do, and I’m no longer afraid. No longer afraid of being the biggest one there, or people staring at me, or not being able to because of my size. Nope, now I’m excited by the prospects and the future…

So, that’s it, that’s all. That’s my exercise.

Tell me, what do you do for activity and exercise?

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4 thoughts on “How I Exercise & How I Got Started

  1. Awesome, thanks for the great read. Swimming and cycling? could there be a tri-athalon in your future? You are inspiring and educating so many. Thank you!!!

  2. Excellent post! we recently bought the Kniect for Xbox and have been doing 3 sessions of week of Zumba classes. what a workout. Great for building endurance. I also love to walk and with my office being attached to a mall, I’m contnuing my walks indoors during our Ottawa winter months.

  3. Wow! Thank you so much for this post! It truly is inspirational. And, thank you for the shout-out as well. I have saved your workout spreadsheet, thank you so much for that. I’m going to start tracking my progress in that as well. I’ve started out doing the elliptical (which right now I can only do 10 min before my legs turn to jello) and the stationary bike I can do 35-45 min on. I’ve also started doing some of the weight machines for arms, legs, and they have an ab cruncher. My husband is wanting to help me start running, but I’m afraid to run until I get some weight off. I’ve also been walking on my lunch break, I do about 2 miles and also go up and down stairs. I think this is a pretty rough start, but it’s activities I enjoy especially when I’m listening to Pandora while working out. Thank you again for all your support and suggestions; they are greatly appreciated.
    I didn’t mean to write a book on here, but I really appreciated your post. I know I need to start out slow, but I’m looking forward to writing about running as well. Thank you again, Charity 🙂

  4. Pingback: On weight (and weight loss). « kate achille.

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