Over the last few months, I’ve discovered something that is distinctly non-Lewisian about me. I actually enjoy exercising. Let me tell you how this odd turn of events came about.
Last summer, I was pretty far overweight. I still am, actually, but it was quite a lot worse back then. I was a bit over 200 pounds and I’m only 5’11” with a pretty thin frame. At the time, Steph had heard from a friend of hers about a diet called Atkins. I didn’t want to go there at first, but a point came where I got sick of my jeans not fitting comfortably, and I knew nothing but true decisive action was going to fix it (Note to self: try not to make Richard Simmons cry) so I decided to go on the diet, and Steph did too.
And what do you know, it worked! I lost about 8 pounds in the first month, but I wanted it to go faster (as I do with almost everything) and Steph and a few others (including Dr. Atkins probably, but I never read the book. I just kept asking Steph questions) suggested I try exercise. This created a problem, because I’m Josh Lewis, and Josh Lewis doesn’t exercise. I’ve never exercised ever except when I was a part of a sports team, which was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. On the other hand, our apartment had a little gym thing which was free to use, and the gym had… get ready for it… television. And as you know, television has The Simpsons, and other things that make me feel like I’m not exercising. So I decided that TV was my Novocain, and that I would allow that to help me deny reality while I pumped the pedals on that oval-step thingy they had in there.
The fact that I brought my iPod with me was great, and sometimes I would read Zeldman’s book as I exercised too, so it was a lot of fun. I would go for 30 or even 50 minutes at a time. I felt tired and healthy when I was done. And I wound up doing that three or four times a week for three months. I got down below 170 when all was said and done, and frankly, I’m sure Atkins had a lot to do with it, but the exercise was probably the part that truly made it work. So now I’m not afraid of exercise anymore.
Well, I didn’t stay quite as low as I was when I left the Atkins diet of course (and technically I’m not doing it right because you’re never actually supposed to completely stop), although I’m nowhere near as high as I used to be. Since quitting the diet I’ve come to the realization that while I can diet if I really want to, I’m not sure that dieting is something that is overall beneficial to me. Dieting affects my attitude negatively and everything. It’s horrible. Exercise, on the other hand, makes me really happy, and it has the same effect as dieting if it’s done correctly, so… why would I diet?
I don’t mean to say that I’m going to eat everything in sight constantly and never control what goes in my mouth. Let’s not quibble over what a healthy meal plan looks like, and start whipping out our food pyramids. I’m just giving a bit of advice to those who want to lose weight and are sick of all the diets and the gimmicks they may have tried. Dieting may show some results, but no one can deny themselves of something they love (especially when it’s literally for the rest of their lives) and unfortunately that’s what it takes for a diet to work. So skip it. Get a bike. Join a club. Start sweating. It won’t kill you.*
Two weeks ago I went out and bought a cheap Schwinn and I’ve got a 4.4-mile route near my house that I ride now a few times each week. It’s in traffic and everything, so I have to be careful and wear my helmet, but it’s a good time with the ol’ iPod and the road. I see road-kill up close at 14 mph, and there’s a killer hill near the end that goes up (at a 12% grade according to the sign) for quite awhile and makes my legs feel like they’re on fire. The other day as I approached it and rode up (in the very lowest gear my bike offers, panting all the way) Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger was randomly selected on my iPod. That made it bearable.
Let’s hear your exercise stories!
* OK, actually it might. Talk to your doctor.