Work Out Or Wimp Out
By Jennifer Tramontozzi
Why you should go to the gym today...
Thinking of skipping that workout today? Sounds tempting, doesn't it? Sometimes it feels like you work out five or six days a week for one to three hours but you always manage to come across someone who works out less and looks better than you. Everyone has the brother who has the genetic makeup of Adonis, or the cousin who never worked out a day in her life but always looks like she just stepped off the runway. They are lurking around every corner, whispering to us that the gym will never make us look like them; either we've got the great set of genes or we have to buy the size 48 jeans. Every once in a while, you just feel like skipping that workout and heading for the couch. Here's why you can't:
Consider this: if you typically do a one-hour cardio workout, lift weights for a half hour, and finish off with abs, you probably burn about 800 calories in your workout. If you usually do two hours of weight lifting, you're probably looking at the same number, give or take a couple hundred calories. Don't forget that getting yourself over to the gym, jumping in the shower, and flexing your muscles in the mirror counts toward that burn factor.
Moreover, when you work out at this level, you typically go home and want to eat healthier than you would have if you felt guilty for ditching the workout. Let's say you skip the gym, go home, and eat a couple of servings of chips and cheese dip instead. That's about 300-400 calories you never would have eaten if you had gotten your act together. All together, that's about 1200 calories you just added onto your day, more than Calista Flockhart and Kate Moss eat in an entire day.
If you get yourself into this bad routine just one day a week, you will pack on eight pounds in six months! Now, if you only work out four days a week and decide to add a solid fifth day into your workout routine, you could be shredded in six months, thus walking by Adonis and making him feel like A Donut.
They say you typically take in 1500 calories extra on Thanksgiving Day, but we all know that 3500 calories equal a pound, so why do people get fat after one day of bad eating? The trick is, bad eating and bad attitudes compound. Many of us suffer from the all-or-nothing syndrome. Either you eat your bran for breakfast, your grilled tuna without mayo for lunch, and your grilled chicken for dinner, or you eat bacon and eggs, Count Chocula and crumb cake, a couple of cheeseburgers, and God knows what else in the span of a day. Usually, good behavior spawns better behavior, and vice versa. Sometimes we get caught on the downward spiral and say, "Forget it, I already skipped the last two days, I may as well skip the gym for the rest of the week and be good all next week." Does this sound familiar? Do you think that it's part of Mr. Universe's mantra? I don't think so.
Some of us need more inspiration than others, myself included. Here are some motivational tips you haven't yet heard:
Be a bike potato: New York Sports Club and several other gyms have recently updated all their cardio machines with TV monitors, and CD and cassette players. So even if you really don't feel like going to the gym at all, just sit on your butt (the butt being on a Lifecycle), pedal away, and watch the tube.
Negative imagery: Think of a person who doesn't want you to look good, maybe an ex, or an ultra-competitive "friend." Now think how happy he would be to see you skipping the gym or looking less than buff. How many times have you heard someone say, with a little smirk, "Oh, did you see Betty Sue? She must have put on fifteen pounds. She looked terrible!" Do you want her to start saying this about you?
Discover a looker at the gym: Every single time I go to the gym, I see this one guy who walks around without a shirt and runs on the treadmill near me. When I'm too lazy to feel like concentrating on "what my body is saying to me" like they tell you to do in every magazine, I have a great time concentrating on him. Sometimes gyms are better than bars for meeting people. And we all know which is better for your gut.
Find a competitor: Whether it be the snotty girl who always looks you over when you wear the spandex, or the guy who thinks he's the hottest thing at the gym, it's so much fun to race them, out-bench them, or just strive to look better than them. Sure, that's not the most sportsmanly advice. But we're not trying to hook up with these people (see above); we're just using them to make our workout more exciting.
Change it up: Instead of running five miles at 7.5MPH every single day, throw in some hills or change the speed with a predetermined plan. Don't just tell yourself you'll change it once you get going, that plan often gets forgotten. For example, tell yourself ahead of time that you will put the incline up to 3.0 every five minutes for a minute each time. This really makes the other minutes go fast, you'll feel like you are flying downhill. Or, if you have a certain routine, such as "chest and back" on Monday, "traps and tri's" on Tuesday, etc., you should change around which muscle groups you link together. You'll see results faster, as your body has to make the adjustment.
Skip with good reason: If you're going to skip the gym, do something besides sit on your hyena. Go to the mall or the CD store or WHATEVER that doesn't involve nasty snacks and a food baby at the end of the night. Do something worthwhile that will justify your skipping the workout altogether.
Time crunched? Let's face it. There will be days when we can't work out due to working late, getting drinks with the babe in the office, shopping for last-minute birthday presents, or whatever. When this happens, you can always squeeze in some crunches and push-ups. Push-ups are one of the most efficient ways to get your shoulders and arms tight when your schedule is even tighter.
Check yourself out: Go ahead. Nobody's looking. Find something that you really like about yourself; don't obsess about the little fat layer over your belt. When you find a body part that you like and realize you have gotten it from hard work, you will be much more likely to keep moving. When we squeeze every little pocket of fat on our bodies, we start to feel crappy and convince ourselves we are unattractive. Ironically, we are less likely to work out when we feel out-of-shape, then when we are happy with ourselves. It sounds illogical, but it's human nature. Of course, human nature entails skipping an occasional workout and eating lots of greasy food. Just make sure that if you let this happen, it's not a weekly phenomenon. If it happens once a month or once every two months and you push yourself a little extra the next day, you will still be in good shape. And if you stop being jealous of Brother Adonis and start focusing on yourself, you will be in fantastic shape!