stop the presses: there’s a workout I don’t hate

I found a workout I don't hate: a roundup of YouTube dance fitness videos.

So, a funny thing happened over the last month: I became a person who doesn’t just occasionally climb mountains, but one who *gasp* actually works out regularly. Yeah, I don’t know who I am, either.

Somewhere between my kids becoming 3 year olds who don’t wear me out quite as much, becoming a heart health ambassador, and just wanting my pants to fit a little looser, I decided I had the time, energy, and desire to do something fitness-wise. I’ve always been a healthy eater, but my main source of exercise has been chasing, lifting, and caring for my kids. It turns out when you turn 30, that’s not enough to keep your weight steady, if you’re me. I love my mombod, but knew both my heart and my waistline needed a change. The problem was, I generally hate exercise. I like hiking, but that’s not very fun in an Arkansas summer. I like yoga, but that’s not generally cardio. I will never never never be a runner, because I straight up hate it and have flunked out of the Couch to 5k program twice. But then I remembered I don’t hate dancing, so maybe I could give that a try. Dancing has the added bonus of being something I can do in my air conditioned living room while my kids sleep, or even with my kids, and it’s good cardio.

I found a workout I don't hate: a roundup of YouTube dance fitness videos.
My workout partners.

I ordered a set of Zumba DVDs from Zulily but the shipping was going to take a while, so I started looking for workouts on YouTube to try in the meantime. I’ve managed to find a decent mix, and shockingly, have managed to work out for about 20 minutes almost every weekday for the last month. I don’t actually hate this! In fact, I am feeling more energetic, drinking slightly less coffee (slightly), and am actually starting to feel like my clothes fit a little bit better. It’s not some dramatic story about jumping around in my living room and suddenly dropping 3 sizes, but that’s not what I wanted, anyway. I just want to take better care of myself, my heart, and my body.

I feel I should note that I feel like the world’s flailingest white girl while pelvic thrusting and shimmying in the privacy of my own home. I would DIE if even my husband saw me doing it, though I’m fine with the bufflogals joining in from time to time. But it doesn’t matter that I probably look ridiculous– I can be Beyonce in my mind. If I need inspiration to go ahead and “jiggle it,” this video is ample motivation:

I thought I’d share some of my favorite YouTube dance workouts in case any of you would like to flail around your living rooms in the name of fitness, too. Here’s to having at least a little fun in the name of getting healthier.

Do any of you do at-home workouts via YouTube? Got any faves to share?

sweating it

Before I got married, my last name was a certain word synonymous with perspiration (which is why, despite my feminist tendencies, I wasn’t so keen on keeping it).  I’ve been living up to that name this week in more ways than one.

My lovely state has been on the news lately as the HOTTEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. In case you don’t believe me, this was our forecast this week (apologies for the weird alt text in my screenshot):

Last night, at 9 pm, the heat index was still in the HIGH 90s. Just walking outside from the car into a building is enough to work up a good sweat.  My poor air conditioner has been chugging away non-stop all week in a valiant effort to keep the interior of our house a frosty 80 degrees.  It probably doesn’t help that we have furniture covering almost all the vents, to which I ask, why, God, why, are all our vents also in the most logical places to put furniture?  Our couch has now been pulled 6 inches out from the wall to expose the vent. It looks kind of silly, but damn if it isn’t cooler in here.

In addition to this heat wave, this week my husband signed me up for a membership at the gym at his work and has invited me to come work out with him.  Something to know about me: I’m basically allergic to physical activity.  As a kid, I spent one season on a softball team and spent the entirety of it making daisy chains in the outfield.  My parents signed me up for tennis lessons, where it was discovered that I had a knack for hitting myself in the head when I tossed the ball to serve.  I routinely flunked the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, but even this socialist would like to know why it’s any of the president’s business how many sit-ups I can do, anyway. Pretty much the only exercise I’ve ever loved was yoga, but classes haven’t started up at our gym yet.

And still, I know I need to get some exercise. I don’t need to lose weight, but I do need to get some cardiovascular activity in for the sake of my heart. I’m skinny but I’m not in shape.  And the gym is chock full of the one and only exercise machine I’m willing to touch: the elliptical.  I’m not sure what it is about the elliptical that makes it the least repellent form of exercise to me, but I don’t abjectly hate it, which is a big deal. It feels like walking on the moon. I can moonwalk for 30 minutes 3 times a week, right?

Well, huffing and puffing, I moonwalked for 30 minutes on Monday. I’d like to attribute some of that huffing and puffing to the fact that I made the mistake of hopping on a machine in front of a TV playing Fox News.  Yesterday, my legs felt like jelly, so I didn’t go to the gym.  Today, my sports-loving man messaged me that he was off work early, and did I want to meet him in the gym?

Something else to know about me: I’m great at guilt tripping myself. I think maybe my mother just did such a good job of it that now I just do it on autopilot. I know Jon isn’t thinking this, but I project my own guilt onto him: “What a lazyass, home in your pjs at noon on a weekday! You never work out! You should go to the gym!”  I put on my workout clothes and hopped into the car and headed to the gym. Jon had already done 20 minutes of weights when we met up at the cardio machines, him on a bike and me on the elliptical. About 15 minutes in, huffing and puffing harder than before, I told him I wasn’t sure I’d make it 30 minutes.

Something to know about Jon: he’s the most encouraging person ever, and he knows how I operate. Occasionally he tries to teach me tennis, and he’s learned that I just do not respond to negative feedback.  I need a LOT of cheerleading.  As he pedaled away on his bike set to some insane incline, he assured me that I could definitely survive 20 minutes on that machine. Then my stubbornness kicked in, and I became determined to keep moving until the time ticked down.

Now, an hour later, I think I might have finally stopped sweating.  For a minute there I thought I might puke.  Yep, 20 minutes on an elliptical machine and I’m sweating like a pig and thinking I might puke. THIS is why I need to work out.

Now I just have to decide if it’s even worth it to bother showering when it’s a million degrees outside and I’ll just be sweaty again in 10 minutes.

Are you a gym nut? Do you love to work out? Or are you like me, and frankly hate it? How do you make yourself exercise? What’s your favorite machine?

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