The H Plan –
I read somewhere recently, that it was a big fat fallacy that exercise alone, without any change to a poor diet, would result in substantial weight loss. This, the article said, was a lie put out by the food industry to move the blame for widespread weight gain from their products to our laziness.
Generally speaking in personal experience I find that people with a good level of fitness who are regularly active, also seem to keep to a decent diet overall and so exercise and good eating habits almost go hand in hand; the exercise alone is not wholly responsible for their good shape.
I actually googled this very question – ‘how much exercise is required to work off a bad diet ‘– and the top two results contradicted each other! Typical. But by and large those who were saying you could out exercise a crappy diet were trying to sell you a programme!
My basic dilemma was that I was over-weight, carrying in excess of an extra 2stone and I had a lot more years on me than I had when I last did any form of exercise; added on the fact that I had had a dose of muscle wasting from Grave’s Disease and the menopause too had decided to kick in– given that I just about manage to walk from car to building and building to car on a good day– I knew that I was in seriously bad shape and even contemplating any form of exercise programme made me feel physically sick.
Baby steps – the H plan had to have a phased approach to allow me to even manage to step up to the mark, and I had to be brave!
I decided myself that I was going to start my exercise campaign whilst everyone was off for the Xmas hols for 2 weeks – this was before I even began to look seriously at cleaning up my dietry act – after all, I had Christmas to eat my way through!!
With the wonderful benefit of hindsight I now believe that I should have done it the other way around and given myself some time to adjust my eating, maybe even lose a tiny bit of weight before starting the heavy duty sweating that I knew was coming.
Of Course, if you are at all thinking of exercising then please do check with your doctor that all is good before you start, because I’m not prepared to sugar coat this – if you are in a similar state to myself, it’s going to be hard going.
What I will say is however, if you, like me, find losing weight difficult these days (it falls off some people but I am not so lucky) it will take quite a long time to get the amount of weight off that would be optimal for exercise and so at some point you are going to have to bite the bullet – and just get on with it. The fitter you start to get, the stronger those muscles become, the more it will support your eating changes and all these things together become supportive partners in the inch loss game.
There is no doubting that whilst exercise alone may not give you the weight loss results you were hoping for alone – in tandem with a revised eating plan – it will.
The other thing not to be overlooked is that when you have heaved yourself about for half an hour and felt the pain of it – that chocolate bar starts to look a whole lot less appealing.
But what to do?
We’re all different, we all like different things and we have different amounts of available time.
My biggest reason for not doing exercise really came down to not wanting to, because I knew it was going to be hard, really hard, and life just seemed a whole lot hard enough already – and whilst spare time wasn’t in massive supply, when I did have free moments I had a whole list of competing things I really liked doing – and none of those involved sweating!!
The bottom line was, if I wanted to be healthier (not just thinner) and I mean REALLY wanted this – then something had to give, and all my excuses were that – avoidance. So I knew I had to find some time, find the right place and find the exercise that fitted in.
Strangely, once I stopped avoiding the obvious and started to give real thought to the issues at hand – real questions started to form – and it was in answering those questions that shaped what exercises I would do and when; rather than just picking the exercise I fancied from a list.
Here is my list of issues to address –
- The family night time routines made doing any exercise then difficult – once home I made dinner making it quite late on once it was all finished, and anyway I didn’t want to exercise on a full stomach and certainly none of the family would wait until I had done my thing.
- After dinner it was always late anyway and I was too tired – genuinely, and that is the time I normally do the odd household chores.
- Any. exercise that involved being outside would be difficult for a significant number of months because of the dark.
- We have to be out of the house early and any attempt to exercise before then wouldn’t work – I run around after all the kids and if I weren’t there to chase this, do that, it would chaos – if I promised myself it would be different, I would be lying.
- My husband has always used the early morning as his exercise time – so I would be cutting across his usual routine anyway.
If you work full time, I realise the field is always narrow!
I wanted to target the muscle wastage, post Graves Disease, I had also read a number of articles written geriatric doctors who said if you wanted to improve your quality of life in old age, start a programme of weight training in your 50’s and stick with it. This was further supported by very many fitness coaches online who talked about the benefits of weight training for menopausal women because bone density loss is a real issue and not one that ever improves on it’s own.
So I needed a gym.
I’ve never been a fan of the gym, I find the idea of getting in a car and going, just off somehow and I hadn’t stepped in to a gym since I was in my late 20’s/early 30s – that’s over 20 years ago.
Once I looked around, I saw there were very many more gyms and fitness classes today than there ever were when I first attempted the gym all those years ago – so getting to one wasn’t as much of an issue as I imagined. Whilst there is an obvious cost financially, I didn’t feel it was so expensive I couldn’t contemplate it and I decided if I was paying, I bloody well was going to use their facilities!!
I chose a gym (that is open all the time as far as I can tell) and I planned on going 3 times a week – Mon, Weds and Fri morning after dropping my son at school – thankfully for me he has a very early start, 8am – so I chose the gym I can get to straight after leaving him – this works for me perfectly.
(more about my actual gym experience later on)
I also knew that I needed some cardio going on too – given that the gym timetable worked for me – I figured that my cardio option would work as well at the same times for Tues & Thurs during the week. I needed an option that didn’t require specialist kit – like cycling for example – I opted for jogging (again more later one the thought process here) but for now just accept I had my reasons.
Actually I don’t suppose the cardio option matters much so long as it works for you and you can do it consistently; the key is finding that ‘thing’ that does it for you – I know this goes against all reasonable advice – but you don’t have to like it massively for it to work for you. I’m going to say here right now, I don’t like running at all – and it positively hates me!!! But we ‘do’ for each other.
I would much rather be ballroom dancing 3 times a week but that isn’t a workable option – it doesn’t mean I can’t dance now and again – but the jogging fits in far better.
Find what works for you, allow room in your schedule for recovery – I don’t do anything on a Sunday and I alternate weights and cardio – I’m not an expert but I haven’t suffered any ill effects from that simple regime
For all my negativity about starting exercise – I was all about wanting to feel good but knew starting to exercise wasn’t going to feel that way – in short time, I started to feel marvellous, I really did.
I still don’t ‘like’ jogging, not a bit of it – and yes, it still hates me – but Oh My God – honestly, I feel a million dollars for doing it and it is that knowledge that keeps me putting on my running gear and going out there every other day
The H plan is wholly set in wanting to improve my health – and it is the exercise options that give me such a lift – I wonder why the hell I didn’t do this for myself sooner.
my first run – to the water tower and back 🙂