Friday, 5 October 2012

Getting off the sofa


Sitting in front of a computer for 16 or more hours a day isn't conducive to svelteness. It is instead conducive to the consumption of many doughnuts and glasses of wine, so there has come a point where my entire face is so subsumed by my double chin that I can no longer see the screen.

I have to do something about it. But will I ever be one of those Facebook people who announce at 5am that they've just done an exhilarating 50-mile run and can't wait to meet all the exciting opportunities of a new day? Every way I turn, deadlines home in like Pacman ghosts, and sometimes just getting to the kitchen for another strong black coffee feels like winning a gold medal.

I know exercise is a Good Thing and that it will not only improve my health but increase my concentration, reduce anxiety and make me look slightly less like Jabba the Hutt. Years of humiliating PE lessons, however, drummed it into me that taking part in any sporting activity is likely to be awful.

The 30 Day Shred is an exercise DVD by Jillian Michaels, who is apparently famous for exercisey kind of things. I saw it highly praised on a few internet forums and have decided to give it a go. It contains three 20-minute workouts of increasing difficulty – you do each one every day for ten days before moving on to the next, which is supposed to leave you 'shredded' (I've no idea what that means but it's presumably something desirable that one should aim for).

I perceive several advantages to this:
  1. It only takes 20 minutes and is done at home – if you go to the gym or the swimming pool or wherever, you have to factor in getting there, getting changed and getting home again, which is more time away from the WIP.

  2. It's not depressing. The exercises are hard work and when you first start it's possible to feel that you will collapse, but each element of the workout only lasts three minutes at most before switching to something else, so there's always an end in sight.

  3. It is good value for money – you don't have to buy anything except the DVD. The only things you need are some hand weights, which can just be water bottles or tins at first. There are no expensive gimmicky bits of equipment to fill up the loft.

  4. If I were good at taking orders, I'd be in the army, not sitting misanthropically in front of a laptop. Jillian Michaels is what our American chums might call a hard-ass, but she's refreshingly unpatronising. Her toughness isn't sadistic – she respects participants enough to know we are capable of more than we think. Her style will not be for everyone but I find her motivating.

  5. It is possible to notice a difference very quickly – within a few days the Level 1 workout begins to feel much more manageable, which gives a real sense that it's working. It's proper intensive stuff, not some sleb wafting around in their designer fitness gear.
  1. No one has to witness my efforts. The problem with running and that sort of thing is that I'd have to do it in public. Everyone in the vicinity would see me go out in the brand new running shoes I'd have to buy, then flub ten metres down the pavement, trip over my own chins and hobble home in shame. Doing an exercise video means I can die in the dignified seclusion of my own living room.
This all seems pretty appealing to me, so watch this space... next time I'm here on Strictly, I'll be in training for 2016!*


*i.e. aiming to survive that long.

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5 comments:

Derek said...

An important reminder that, dare I say it, writing is only one aspect of the writer's life. (And funny to read, I might add!)

Maybe we could develop something similar for writers - progressively harder exercises until we're reaching for lithe prose and going for the burn (or maybe the Robert Burns).

Well done on your new exercise regime. A healthy body tends towards a healthy mind (despite some reality TV exceptions). And a healthy mind aids writing, which, erm, could see you sitting at your computer for longer!

The Virtual Victorian said...

Maybe I'll try the Shred again. I agree with everything you say and desperately want to get off my chair and regain some element of fitness, but the one time I tried this DVD I honestly thought I might have a stroke. However you have inspired me to get it out again...later on, or tomorrow, or Monday...

Maria said...

I suffer with a bad back, being hunched over a desk for hours hasn't helped, so I decided I'd try everything I could to ease the situation.

I ditched the desktop pc, and now have a small laptop, and I vary my seating often, I make a point of doing this every few hours. I also started yoga, which teaches you to stretch and breath properly.

It's hard to get into a routine, well done you on starting yours! I'm sure you'll feel more energised, and your writing will benefit too.

Thrifty Gal said...

I always wondered what all those Facebook posts on my friends' pages were about. You've solved a mystery!

Julie P said...

It sounds a good idea. I do Zumba (DVD - I don't think the public should be made to witness my Salsa any time soon!) and go for walks (not at the same time - migt look a bit strange if I samba down the road!) I can't sit too long behind my desk due to it giving me back pain so I tend to wander a lot!

Good luck with the exercise