I have a confession to make. I have not practiced what I preach. All my patients over the years have heard me praise the virtues of exercise. Many of them have been motivated by my words to start their own fitness programs. I have just never been very good at it myself. I have tried. I have joined gyms and quit gyms. I have started and ended more home exercise routines than I have fingers and toes. Just take a look at the entire shelf of exercise books in my rec room. Feast your eyes on the treadmill, the re-bounder, the free weights, the Swiss ball and the skipping rope.
The problem was that exercise felt like a duty. Another obligation. Not fun. Boring. When I did start a program I would inevitably spend all day procrastinating about doing a work out and then when it was very late at night promise myself to do it tomorrow instead.
A few weeks ago I was browsing a bookstore at a mall and saw “You are Your Own Gym”, by Mark Lauren. The good looking guy on the front cover drew my eye and I picked it up and read the back. “Forget about gym memberships” (Oh good, lets do that ). ” 125 exercises” – hmm – that should help with the boredom factor. Although the book said Mark Lauren developed his program teaching special forces, I also saw lots of pictures of women doing the exercises. I liked the way each movement was pictured and described from easy to more challenging. This 50 something woman knew right away she could start with the wall-push-ups and have a chance of doing regular floor push-ups one day, but she also realized that handstand push-ups were about as likely as a berth on the Mars colony ship.
So I brought the book home, and being disinclined to spend a lot of time figuring out an exercise regime , decided to start with his most basic 10 week program because all the exercises were laid out and there were only four of them to do a few times a week. It looked easy. It was not. Much to my chagrin, I found I couldn’t even complete all the exercises in the first most basic arm workout. I was stiff and sore and had to spend extra time napping that day. OK, another failed exercise program headed for the dusty bookshelf.
Then I had an epiphany. Last year I developed back spasms due to my extreme inactivity. I had to start a regular stretching program to keep them at bay. One of the stretches was sitting in a semi-squat position with my back flat against the wall. I did that daily for about a month and then found one day I could stand up from squatting in front of the fruit drawer of the refrigerator without feeling like I would topple over. Without even realizing it I had strengthened my legs.
So based on this experience my thought was to throw out my perfectionist tendencies telling me that if I couldn’t do it “right” not to bother at all, and to instead do it as well as I could with the hope of increasing my strength over time. This is what I am doing, and it is working. I am not as sore and exhausted.
I was interested to learn after my first couple of workouts that Mark Lauren also has a book specifically for women titled “Body by You”. I did get this book out of the library, but it was mostly what I had started doing anyway, a more gradual approach to the body weight exercises.
So how is the program going now? I am half-way through week four. Last week a strange thing happened, though. I started to look forward to my workouts. I feel good after them now, a little sore and stiff but nothing major. I make sure to have a green smoothie with protein powder right after a workout and I think that has done a lot to reduce inflammation. I am feeling happier, and pleased with the butt and arm toning I am already noticing. This is the first exercise program ever that I miss on my rest days. I repeat, I actually miss exercising the days I am not doing the workouts. This is not me. This is some strange alien fitness loving replacement of me! I like the alien me, though. I feel better and look better. I am slowing down aging and getting stronger and feeling calmer. I expect that I will use this book for years, there are so many variations of the body weight exercises. It will also be a book to pack when I travel, since the workouts can be done anywhere. Mark Lauren has an app out with his exercises as well, which even eliminates the need to pack the book.
Here’s a link to the book on Amazon. It is my affiliate link. You could also get the book out from the library first, and perhaps get out “Body by You” at the same time to compare them to see which one you prefer. Give his workouts a try and see if you, like me, will no longer consider the word exercise as a swear word……