Overcoming Our Little Demons
Illustrations by Charlotte Shen
Hi homebodies, welcome to the latest installment of the homebody chronicles, where I attempt to corral all of my bad habits, demons and counterproductive characteristics and develop a lifestyle plan that works. What does that mean? Well, a plan that works for me is one that helps me to account for and counteract traits that will damage my health and productivity, instituting protocols that will result in a leaner, fitter, more organized, more productive and dare I pray happier me!
I hope that this series may be to help to someone who is already on a generally healthy path I life, and just looking for tips and tricks to try, perhaps some tweaks to make positive results flow more efficiently.
I ardently wish that it may be of deeper benefit to those like me. Those who consider themselves just a little broken. Those whose operating systems seem to have a glitch or two embedded deep in lines of code we didn’t consciously write and only half consciously follow. People to whom their own self destructive behavior is a mystery.
To find tools to counteract your worst demons, to neutralize them or at least confine them to one room that you hold the key to – this is valuable stuff indeed.
In the previous articles, here and here, we talked about how to structure your diet when you struggle with binging and an overall lack of self control.
20 Minutes to Fit! A Busy Homebody’s Exercise Schedule
Today let’s take a look at the next phase, adding exercise to our homebody makeover. It is possible to be a fit homebody without a gym membership and spending as little as 20 minutes per day! The simple program that we will lay out may require as long as 40 min when getting started, but as fitness improves we can increase intensity and finish more quickly. The key, as with our diet plan, is to know thyself, know the basic science of exercise, and make a plan you can stick to!
I know that while I love to go off on multi-hour hikes, long walks, even gym sessions, I only love it sometimes. Perhaps rarely would be more appropriate. I know I can’t ask myself to stick to a fitness plan that asks multiple hours of me several times a week. It will just be too easy to make excuses and stray. I need something more bulletproof. A program that will deliver noticeable benefits with minimal time commitment per week. What might such a program look like? Hmm…
Fitness Science 101
We know that calories in vs. calories out is a basic fact all diet plans must address in order to control weight, but is there a corresponding “golden rule” about exercise? Not really. I mean the same rule obviously applies, that burning more calories through exercise than you take in through eating will result in weight loss; but we established in the diet article that eating habits are really the primary pillar of weight control because, in a determined battle of consuming vs burning, well…as one person said, “You can’t outrun your mouth”. I know this is true for me. I once consumed about 5000 calories in around 2 hours. It would take 5 hours straight of jogging to undo that. I could do the eating trick everyday (until I had a heart attack), but running marathons to counteract the calories would get old after …ok, immediately.
Furthermore, diet goals tend to be more universal, ie. sufficient amounts of all the required nutrients to ensure good health and longevity, and weight control.
Exercise goals, on the other hand, are more varied. Are you trying to achieve aerobic mastery to complete a marathon? Are you trying to add muscle mass to impress the judges at a bodybuilding competition? The exercise programs devised to reach these disparate goals would of course look very different.
Know Your Why
So it’s important to frame for the average homebody out there just why most of us endeavor to start an exercise program. We want to feel and look better. We want to be more healthy, and fit. Fit means a body capable of dealing with physical challenges. We want to live longer. So let’s aim for that low hanging fruit, the easiest, fastest way to get the greatest overall fitness improvement to provide an overall benefit to our homebody life. I want my exercise program to help me keep my metabolism going, thus aiding in weight control, as well as have more energy, strength, flexibility; to feel healthy and strong and energetic in the daily competition of life. So to that end, we want a program that is:
- simple to follow
- doesn’t take much time
- doesn’t require special equipment
- is highly effective at improving both cardiovascular and muscle fitness – an overall effect
- keeps my metabolism elevated for well beyond the duration of exercise
Here’s where that leads us: we want to do an exercise routine that incorporates all major muscle groups in turn, and with little rest in between to maximize the cardio effect. You may know this as interval training, or even High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This kind of workout has been established as the most efficient, most bang for your buck type of exercise program. We simply do a series of exercises with little or no rest in between. We set a time limit and do as much as we can in that time! I’m going to start with workouts, that can be completed in 20-40 minutes, which seems like a small ask out of my daily schedule.
We are going to split our exercise routine into 2 days – each of these will be done twice per week. I ultimately want to be exercising in some form at least 6 days per week – what is exercise after all but moving your body, and what is our body meant for? Moving! There’s no reason we can’t do a little moving every day. An object in motion stays in motion! But I’m holding myself to do the core training program 4 times per week (2 variations, 2 times each). Beyond that I have the freedom to add in some yoga, sports, long walks etc. as I feel more able, willing and energetic! So here it is – my HomeBody workout!
my HomeBody Workout
Day 1 (Mon/Thurs.)
- Walk/Jog/Sprint >> around the block or around your house, sprints are a great way to engage your entire body and get your blood pumping! Start with a brisk walk, then after 1 minute, break into a light jog. After 1 minute jogging, slowly ramp up to your top gear until your are at your max speed while maintaining control and form …try to hold this tempo for 20 seconds or so …when you feel you can’t maintain any longer, gear down to a jog for 30 seconds, then back to walking. Your lungs should be expelling CO2 at a prodigious rate now. Walk for 1-2 minutes until your heart rate and breathing are back under control. That’s one rep! It should take 4-5 minutes. Repeat 2 more times!
- Pushups x 15-20 To See Correct Form, Watch This Complete the set and move to the next exercise with no more than 15 seconds rest
3. Squats x 8-10 To See Correct form, Watch This Start off doing these without any additional weight for the first couple of weeks. Then add some weight in the form of a dumbbell, medicine ball, kettlebell, etc.
4. Medicine Ball Slams x 10 To See Correct form, Watch This
DONE! This should take no more than 30 min once you get the hang of it! See if you can work it down to 20 min while keeping proper form on all of the exercises. Then you can add some extra reps and or weight to the exercises.
Day 2 (Tue/Fri)
- Stairs Sprints x 10 floors – Time yourself once a week to measure your improvement
- Compound Bicep Curl/Shoulder Presses x 10 To See Correct form, Watch This
- Lunges x 10 each side To See Correct form, Watch This
- Pullups/ Inverted Rows X 10 To See Correct form, Watch This and this
- Repeat #2-4
DONE! Here is a homebody workout that requires minimal equipment and time commitment! It’s balanced between upper and lower body, targets both cardiovascular improvement and muscle strengthening, all combining to give you a metabolic and fitness boost!
For exercises involving added weights, choose weights that you can, with some difficulty, complete 8-10 repetitions with. If it gets too easy, increase weight or reps!
*The only piece of equipment needed in these workouts is a medicine ball. If you don’t have one, it’s a good investment, as there are so many muscle and core strengthening exercises you can do with them and unlike weights, they are ideal for home workouts because they won’t sound like a bomb going off when you drop them on the floor! Here’s a highly rated one available from Amazon.com that comes in weights from 6 to 50 pounds! Check it out here:
Don’t forget to choose the weight that is best for you! Don’t know how to choose? Check this out!
How about it homebodies, what’s your favorite exercise and why? What exercise do you hate doing?
What is the biggest factor that prevents you from exercising?
Homebody Challenge: If you don’t have a regular exercise habit currently, try this workout for 2 weeks, 4x per week. How do you feel ?