An unconventional fit

PassingLEFT is pleased to introduce you to our first guest blogger “Unathletic Angela”. Angela is an auditor by day and aspiring writer by night. Read on and enjoy!

I was skinny once. Ten years ago, I was 40 – 50 pounds lighter than I am today. For the most part, I didn’t even have to try. When I gained a few pounds in college, two months of portion control and a conventional exercise routine was all that I needed to get back on track. Unfortunately, as the years went by, I became complacent. I put on pounds so slowly that I almost didn’t realize it was happening – until recently, when I started looking at pictures from five years ago. I remember when I looked at those pictures right after they were taken, I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I’m getting fat.“ Now, when I look at them, I think, “I wish I was that skinny again!“ The realization held enough shock factor to motivate me to do something to get back to some semblance of the girl I used to be. This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. After months of half-hearted efforts and minimal results, I decided to modify my goal – if I couldn’t be skinny, then I at least wanted to be fit.

The convention of fitness tells us that in addition to monitoring our diet, we need to exercise – read aerobics routines and strength training regimens. The fitness industry offers us a variety of resources in this vein: gyms and workout dvds – even an entire TV station offering only fitness programming. However, my attention span is not what it was 10 years ago. If you’re like me, then after a week or two of these routines, you are bored out of your mind. Moreover, I am not particularly athletically inclined (Need proof? Case in point: I’ve broken limbs and appendages riding a bike – or even just running up the stairs… true story). Regardless of the health and self-esteem benefits, who wants to stick with something that’s boring (and dangerous, if you‘re a klutz like me!) when you could be spending those precious hours out doing something fun? Perhaps that’s why I – and 63% of my fellow Americans – are overweight: it‘s more fun to be fat. Apparently, conventional fitness has failed the masses.

Therefore, this blog will chronicle my quest to seek out fitness in less conventional ways – practical ways, fun ways, even ridiculous ways. I’m not above or below trying anything that will help me achieve my goal.

April 2011 – The Journey of a Thousand Miles
Lao-tzu said that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So, I decided to make that first step an easy one. This month – I am walking into shape.

Walking might not seem like something that would make a big impact, but even the Mayo Clinic applauds the benefits of walking. As the Mayo Clinic reports, you can enjoy a multitude of benefits from walking, such as: increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol, lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk or managing type 2 diabetes, managing your weight, improving your mood, and staying fit.

Sounds good, right? So, here are ways you can walk as part of a regular routine… or just for fun:

Walking to Work – This may not be an option for everyone, but it is easy when you live/work in an urban environment. Recently, on a business trip to D.C., I ditched the option to metro or cab to work and opted to walk the 10 or so blocks to the office. Add in carrying a backpack or work tote for files and a laptop to your trip like I did, and you’ll be upping the ante in your fight for calorie burn. You can also try walking around town at lunch with a friend (or by yourself) just to get away from all the coworkers you’d rather kill than spend another minute with. Or, park a little further away from your office and give yourself a chance to burn some calories to and from your desk. If you don’t want to sport a pair of tennis shoes with your skirt or suit, invest in a few pairs of comfortable flats. For all you girls who think that all flats and no stilettos make you a dull girl, pack your heels in a bag and change once you get to your desk.

I haven’t forgotten about all of you unfortunates who work in a more suburban environment (I‘m one of you now). You can always check into nearby walking trails and take a little stroll at lunch. If you choose that option, you might want to pack some walking clothes and change in the bathroom – no one wants to smell your stale sweat all afternoon.

Tourist on Two Feet – It’s spring, and I don’t think I’m the only one in western Pennsylvania with raging cabin fever. So, get out and enjoy your native cities or take a road trip to some place fun. I was lucky enough to be in D.C. during the peak of Cherry Blossom season. I opted to walk the streets of our national capital, finding myself at many interesting museums (the Newseum is my new favorite), monuments (who doesn‘t love the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials?), the Verizon Center (Go Caps? Go Wizards?), and yes, even a few restaurants and bars (If you know your restaurant ahead of time, you can Google the calorie information for their menu and pick something smart. As for the bars, opt for a light beer, a glass of wine, or liquor straight up or on the rocks – these have fewer calories than heavy beers and mixed drinks… so they will not completely undo the benefit of walking. Of course, I’m not saying that I did that… just saying you should).

Ultimately, I may not have necessarily been successful in walking off my weight, but I blame the alluring night life of D.C. and the fact that I am drinking wine as I write this blog. Nevertheless, I did myself more benefit than if I hadn’t walked at all.

Next month, I’m going to try something a little more serious: Jazzercise. Yes, you read that right. If you want to see what this semi-uncoordinated girl can do… or if you just want to see me get myself into a train wreck… stay tuned!

~Unathletic Angela