How The Founding Fathers Helped Me Improve My Fitness Habits

WHOA WELCOME TO OUR FIRST FITNESS-ORIENTED POST

I have been holding off on this post for basically FOREVER because Fitness Blog Posts can get messy. So a couple of disclaimers:

– “Fitness,” “Health,” “Wellness,” and “Beauty” sometimes overlap but are NOT synonymous. (And obsessing too much over one can actively harm the others.) We may discuss aspects of each in coming posts, but posts discussing fitness/health/wellness are NOT going to focus on physical appearance.

– I personally want to be fit/healthy/well so that I can better enjoy other aspects of my life, not because I see them as end goals of their own (it’s cool if you do, though).

– I personally choose to focus on healthy habits rather than physical results (it’s cool if you’re results-oriented, though Science suggests that might not be the best approach — we can explore this later).

– Human bodies of ALL shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities are INCREDIBLE biological masterpieces, and if you’re in the mood to criticize human bodies you can find another website because This Is Not The Place.

– I am close to folks who have dealt with/are dealing with disordered eating and exercise habits, and I will Not Be Chill with any hot take that appears to suggest a disordered approach.

We good? Good! :D

Now we can move on to discussing stuff that we’ve found useful/fun/interesting in regards to fitness/health/wellness! In upcoming months, I intend to focus on little aspects of each — maybe a “physiology of exercise” article here, an “our favorite exercise playlist” there, an “if you want to eat better but are busy and/or lazy here are some shortcuts,” an “this exercise video SUCKED but I really liked this other one.” I’m not a doctor, a fitness instructor, or a nutritionist; though I’ll try to run Blatantly-Science-y Stuff by Science-y People before posting, a lot of it is going to be personal experience coupled with moderation and common sense.

(But as always, feel free to make suggestions, constructively criticize, or pitch your own post — I’m hardly an expert in this category! I just want to talk about it!)

A TRUE* STORY ABOUT THE BIRTH OF AMERICA

(*more or less. You can trust me. I have a degree in this.)

Once upon a time, the Founding Fathers were trying to figure out how to create a functional, non-sucky government.

“We need to create a functional, non-sucky government,” a Father announced.

“But men are sucky, and governments are composed of men,” countered another FF.

“True,” acknowledged the first FF. “So I guess we have three choices: design a system that’s impervious to men’s suckitude, a system that uses men’s suckitude to its advantage, or … ”

(there was a drumroll from a patriotic Drum & Fife Band conveniently walking past)

” … figure out how to make men less sucky.”

There was a minute of silence as the Double-F’s exchanged glances. Then, as one, they threw back their heads and laughed uproariously.

“So … we’re going to try to design the perfect system, right?”

It was unanimous.

The Founding Fathers sat down and figured out a way to channel men’s ambition in a way that would strengthen, rather than weaken, the government they ran. And though mankind can still be surprisingly sucky, America is mostly awesome and has the potential to be even more awesome.

The end.

How does this relate to fitness? I’m gettin’ there.

I’m kind of lazy when it comes to exercise. Well, not so much lazy as inertia-prone — I’m the living embodiment of Newton’s First and Second Laws (and, in class debates, sometimes the living embodiment of his Third). When I’m at rest I stay at rest; when in motion, I tend to stay in motion. Get me to the gym and I am ON FIRE — I’ll go running, and then stretch, and then want to run some more, maybe do some resistance training, maybe a little yoga. I’m already at the gym, y’know? It’s easier to stay in my sweaty exercise clothes than go home, peel them off, and wash my hair. (Because we all know how I feel about washing my hair; i.e., I dislike it.) But if I drive home from work or class, and eat a little bit of dinner, and sit down on the couch? Yeah, there’s no way I’m squeezing myself into spandex, lacing up those running shoes, gathering up my Gym Stuff, and driving to the gym. Not while M*A*S*H is on TV and I have a cross stitch project waiting for me.

So, like our amazing Founding Fathers, I’ve tried to design a system that makes it so easy to go to the gym that it’s harder for me to justify not going. This system works for me; and while the specific details might not work for you, it might give you some ideas of how you can identify and eliminate excuses in your fitness goals.

Problem 1: Once I am home in the evening, I WILL NOT go to the gym.

Solution: Drive straight from class/work to the gym before getting home. Which leads to …

Problem 2: In order to go straight to the gym from work/school, I have to have all my gym stuff ready to go before I leave for work/class. Which leads to…

Problem 3: I am always in a rush in the morning, and do not have time to hunt around for matching gym socks, a sports top/bottoms/bra, my gym pass, and all the other Assorted Crap I need if I’m going to the gym.

MY SOLUTION:

Go to bed in my gym clothes. If you are a morning exerciser, I cannot think of a reason why you would not do this. Wake up ready to exercise? Heck yes! (And if you’re like “ewwww I don’t want to exercise in clothes I’ve slept in,” then (1) what are you doing while you’re asleep that gets your clothes so nasty? And (2) you don’t want to sweat into …. slightly lived-in clothes? Why not?)

Wake up, do light yoga or stretching. I’m NOT a morning exerciser — gym exercise requires a two-hour lead time (45 minutes exercise, 15 minutes driving, 20 minute shower, 40 minutes hair/makeup). I have to be at work by 8 a.m., and on school days I have to LEAVE for school by 7:15 if I want a parking spot; there is no universe in which I am willing to wake up at 5:15 a.m. to engage in an activity about which I’m already lukewarm. No thanks. But twenty minutes of non-strenuous yoga? Sure! I leave my yoga mat rolled up in the corner of the living room, so all I have to do is trudge upstairs, load up a yoga video on youtube, and sleepily follow instructions. It’s a nice transition from sleep to waking, and I start the day feeling more calm. (Also — and this is a Little Thing — my yoga mat is bright yellow. It’s like “GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE” every time I unroll it, and that just makes life a tiny bit better.)

Go downstairs, chuck the clothes in which I slept/yoga’d into my gym bag for my Real Exercise later this evening. You might be like “ew why would you exercise in dirty exercise clothes and also aren’t you going to shower before work” and to that I say: hahaha you really overestimate my yoga routine. Without fail, I get MAJORLY queasy at the 21-minute mark of any yoga workout, even if I pick an easy beginner’s video. (My body: Run for 45 minutes? No problem. Lift weights for an hour? Why not! Do yoga for 21 minutes: *vomits.*) So I do twenty minutes of LIGHT yoga. Like, REALLY light. Like, half-of-it-is-breathing-and-mindfulness-exercises light. I get more gross walking from my car to the classroom than from Morning Yoga.

Get ready for the day. Grab my gym bag — with an entire exercise outfit already inside! — on the way out, and chuck it in my car.

Go to class/work/whatever.

On my way back from __^, head straight to the gym. DO NOT PASS “GYM.” DO NOT COLLECT $200.

Change into my workout clothes.

Work out.

Go home.

Peel off dirty clothes, chuck into the appropriate laundry bins. Put my gym shoes back in the gym bag. Leave gym bag in bathroom for easy access next morning.

Shower. (Plus, this way I can let my hair air dry overnight, allowing for a net time gain of twenty minutes. LAZINESS LEVEL: MASTER)

Put on a clean set of gym clothes.

Go to bed.

Repeat.

Easy, right? Well, along the way I’ve found a few excuses that I’ve had to conquer by a couple of extremely specific, bizarrely obsessive tips:

(1) when it comes to assembling Gym Stuff, I struggle the most with clean socks and underwear. It’s easy to fold my exercise outfits and keep them under the bathroom sink; it’s harder to track down ephemeral panties that weigh less than a scrunchie (and take up less space), or a pair of socks that also happen to be of the exercise variety (much less a matching pair).

SOLUTION:

It’s ridiculous how a $1.49 mesh zip pouch has made exercising so much easier.

I have a bunch of zip-top mesh lingerie bags (they’re, like, $1.49 at Walmart. They’re not fancy). I keep them unzipped and hang them on the inside of my bathroom door (command hooks ftw!); I have one each for clean and dirty underthings, and one each for clean and dirty socks. It’s easy to reach into the bag and pull out a clean set, and just as easy to toss the dirty ones in the appropriate bag when I step into the shower. When the clean bag is empty (and the dirty bag is full), just zip up the dirty bag, toss it in the wash, and — voila! You have a new bag of clean socks/underthings! (The former “clean” bag becomes your new “dirty” bag, of course.) This keeps me from losing track of tiny little clothing items that tend to go missing, and eliminates my “well I can’t find a pair of gym socks and I’m already running late for class so I guess I can’t go to the gym today” excuse.

Nitpicky? Yes. Does it help? Yes.

(2) when it comes to assembling Gym Stuff, I don’t want to have to pack a bag every day.

SOLUTION:

Having LESS gym stuff has actually helps me work out MORE.
It’s a small bag, and there’s STILL tons of space left!
I bought the smallest/cheapest gym bag I could find that had a separate pouch for my shoes. I went with this one (in size small, because I didn’t think my shoes would fit in the x-small pouch), but there’s actually plenty of space — if you’re a size 8 or smaller, you can TOTALLY get away with the x-small bag).

Keep Gym Stuff to a bare minimum and have a designated set in your gym bag ALL THE TIME. My gym bag is pretty minimal — in addition to running shoes and my workout clothes, it only contains a canister of dry shampoo (just in case I can’t immediately go home to shower for whatever reason), makeup remover wipes (because I don’t like exercising in a full face of makeup), deodorant (just in case), a permanent EXTRA pair of panties/socks (because No Excuses), a scrunchie (though I’m usually in possession of a clip or scrunchie anyway), and a tiny bag with my Absolutely Non-Negotiable Gym Accessories — membership card, earbuds, locker padlock, phone armband, inhaler.

I don’t usually need to use any of these items, but having them stashed in my bag means I can’t use “oh whoops I don’t have [deodorant]” as an excuse. Also, the Yes To Cucumbers makeup remover wipes were fine but a bit disappointing.
I keep gym-specific versions of the Important Stuff — armband, earbuds, padlock, inhaler — in its own pouch in my bag.

That’s it! Since I have a gym-specific set of earbuds and canister of dry shampoo and antiperspirant, I don’t have to worry about remembering to chuck my regular headphones or regular antiperspirant into the bag (or retrieve it from the bag for daily use). Yes, it’s an extra $8 for a spare pair of cheap earbuds — but it makes my life a heckuva lot easier.

So, how about you? Do you tend to make excuses for why you can’t exercise? Have you found a way to vanquish or circumvent those excuses? Share!