I was cast in 9 to 5 The Musical around the time that all this was going on. The rehearsal period for a show is a terrible time to start a diet and exercise regimen. Time and energy are in short supply, and for whatever reason, people feel the compulsion to feed actors like so many pigeons in Central Park. (Seriously–since the show started, there’ve been goo goo clusters, Girl Scout cookies, sub sandwiches, flavored popcorn, and like five birthdays complete with cupcakes). Plus, I’m occasionally tempted to see my family instead of bust butt at the gym. But if I was to make my return-to-sender dreams a reality, I had to go ahead and start.
The 3-part Plan
Gym workout three days a week
This is the crux of my plan in terms of exercise. I have an hour lunch break. I like to go home and hang out with the hubs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when he’s off work. But if I went to the little gym in the student residence hall every other weekday, that would be three hour-long workouts on top of what I normally do (believe it or not, I did exercise before). I would make at least one of those workouts resistance training.
Hmmm…how do these work again?
The problem with exercise is that I hate it. Like toddlers prefer vegetables disguised in a lasagna, it works better if I do something less fitness, more fun. Which brings me to item #2.
Since there are bouts of heavy dancing in the show, I could count at least some rehearsals as a workout. The closer you get to showtime though, the more you’re just running things with a lot of hanging around in between. My weekday workouts would pick up some of the slack, but to help push things along further I try to go to an intermediate dance class on Wednesdays, our day off from rehearsals. I have time to hang out with T a bit before I go, and still be home for bedtime
Saturdays are usually a total loss, other than a 30 minute Mommy & Me creative movement class I do with T first thing in the morning. I try to bust the heck out the freeze dance, but still. So I aim to do something expansive on Sundays. Examples from the past are a 1 1/2 hour advanced level dance class (or two regular classes in a row, or one class and 45 minutes of Just Dance on the Wii…you get the idea). Some Sundays we have a five-hour moderately intense rehearsal. This one time I even climbed Kennesaw Mountain with T strapped to my back.
Have you guys been seeing all this research popping up recently on organic movement? That’s the new-fangled term for non-exercise physical activity, aka the traditional take-the-stairs-and-park-far-away advice. Secretary Spread has been creeping up on me since real life started after college. Now we are learning that an overall sedentary lifestyle can not only make you fat, but also kill you, even if you exercise an hour a day every day.
Geez, point taken.
See the whole infographic here.
Now that my commute is five minutes instead of an hour plus, I’m not sitting nearly as much. But I still have a desk job, so I throw in what I can where I can. Squats when standing around at rehearsal, a yoga pose or two when chatting, etc. If I were really ambitious, I’d get a Jawbone or a Fitbit to track every little movement, but, #lazy. (Also #forgetful #broke #doesn’treallygowiththeseshoes). So I just try to stand up when possible and fidget a lot when sitting (I also sometimes sit on a yoga ball at my desk, but I always feel like a douche when I do so that doesn’t happen too often).
I’m not even going to use the word diet, because I just can’t. First of all, for someone with my mental health history, spending too much time thinking about and controlling food is a dangerous rabbit hole. Second, it just doesn’t work.
The more people I talk to, the more I find that every body responds to different things. For me personally, exercise is the key. Even if I could stick to a diet plan, without a whole lot of activity to go with it nothing will happen. That said, eating with no forethought whatsoever could totally sabotage my efforts, so I guess I have to kind of think about it. But it had better be easy and require no math skills (weighing, counting…no). So here are a few tenets I put in place.
It seems like a lot, but don’t worry–all are based on the core principle of laziness.
This basically consists of sitting down to eat, chewing a lot, putting the fork down between bites, and not eating stuff that’s not that good. (You may be thinking #DUH on that last one, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve chomped something because it’s in front of me, even if it’s overcooked/undercooked/too salty/kind of gross.
Small plates equals small portions.
Unless of course you consume multiple small plates (re: below). Mmm….delicious tapas.
Watch out after dark
Everybody has their own virtues and vices. I’m not a big snacker. I will go all day eating only at designated meals with no problem. BUT. But but but. Eating after dinner is a real hot spot, especially during a show. Even if I do practically nothing during a rehearsal, just being awake and sort of active past 9:00 PM makes me think it’s time to eat again. This is true even if I have a filling dinner. Even when I don’t have rehearsal, watching movies or TV turns me into chomp monster. One huge nighttime pitfall for me, that I suspect was a big contributor to this whole ballooning thing, has been tortilla chips and dip, specifically guac and salsa.
Guacamole is not that bad if made without mayo or sour cream, and salsa is actually a healthy vegetable–but not if they’re accompanied by 452 chips. Also, it has not been unheard of for me to come home and polish off the leftovers from the dinner I just ate three hours ago. My simple weapons: a glass of water and a toothbrush. Any hunger I still feel after clean teeth and a bunch of water I figure is legit.
Add some produce
Try to eat fruit and vegetables at every meal. How can that be a bad idea?
I kind of hate drinking water, but I’m making myself do it anyway. This is the one willpower element to my entire plan (and surprise, it’s the one I’m failing at the hardest).
This is my favorite piece of advice from my favorite post-partum exercise guru, Lindsay Brin. BLTs in this case stands for Bites, Licks, and Tastes. As in, don’t be eating your child’s food. When I was pregnant, my mom told me that she gained like 17 pounds eating the crusts of my PB&Js when I was little. See, she tried to warn me. But I still find myself nosing over to T’s plate, which he invariably leaves half full. I justify that it’s just a shortcut to seconds, which I was going to get anyway (my plate is small! It was really only half a portion!). But what if you’ve already had seconds, or get some after that anyway? Shortcut to 300 extra calories a day maybe.
Are you gonna eat that?
source (actually a really good, if slightly unrelated, article)
Even if you don’t have a child, I feel like this can still apply to significant others and friends, and also to the dreaded OFFICE DUMPING GROUND. You know what I’m talking about. That break room counter that’s full of potluck leftovers, baked goods that skinny bitches love to make but not eat, and candy from whatever holiday just passed.
*Actual BLTs are apparently one of the better choices you can make on a pub-type menu. How ’bout them apples?
Know the enemy
Lots of research recently has confirmed what I always felt was true: fat doesn’t make you fat. Anything “real” is probably OK for you. I don’t worry about fat at all, I don’t even think about it (unless it’s sitting attached to a piece of meat, because gross). Along the same vein, there’s a lot of hooliganry these days about fish (farmed? fresh? did you hear they feed them chicken scat?) but even the worst fish is healthier than a cheeseburger*, and I like it, so I eat it frequently. But I try to keep an eye on sugar and salt (and not necessarily fattening but definitely bad for you things like nitrates, antibiotics, and hormones). Again, not to the point of obsessing over food labels, but just a quick eyeball when choosing spaghetti sauce at the grocery store can cut down on those bad boys big time. And eating more fruits and vegetables automatically means less salt and sugar. Circling back right there.
*om nom nom nom
source (Happy April Fools)
Have you noticed that so many menus now include calorie info? I’ve found that really helpful (delicious steak and bleu cheese salad, you are not a health food). Just because you’re eating out doesn’t mean you have to choose something bad, right? That’s the pitfall for some people *cough*P*cough*–they figure if they’re going to a restaurant, they may as well eat fried chicken with fried fries and fried ketchup on the side. Resisting the temptation to throw in the towel (and yes, not doing going out too often) is my trick to less-guilt restaurant dining. I get the cheeseburger, but with a vegetable or a fruit side. Or I get the potato salad and just say screw it (fun fact: there’s room in a healthy lifestyle to swing up or down by 600 calories daily. The trick is that sometimes you have to swing down).
Resist what you can
I think I’ve talked about this before somewhere. The idea is for any treat that doesn’t get your heart racing, just cut it out completely. The only way to get this to work without getting all deprivation and diet-y is to pick something you really, truly, don’t care about. Some personal examples for me are potato chips, dipping sauces, and almost everything fried, including potatoes. I know, freak of nature. If I start eating them, I’ll keep going, but they’re not even my favorite thing (that would be cheese). So I just don’t eat them at all.
Lack of sleep makes you fat. So they say, anyway. All I know is that when I exercise, I sleep better, and when I sleep better, I’m not as hangry. Look at that! An un-vicious cycle! (Beneficial cycle? Good cycle? Popsicle?)
Coming up next….
Status report: a no-holds barred look at point A, point B, and all points between. Plus, my results on the Eat Pretty Quiz!