20 January 2014

Our Latest Experiment

Earlier this month, Matt and I sat down to figure out what we should do to get back in shape. It's been on his "meaning to do that eventually" list for a while, and the twelve days of Christmas saw me lose pretty much all of the progress I'd made recently. Cookies are evil... okay, not really. But I've always had a weakness for sweet carbs, and with a toddler who's been giving us an exclusive preview of his starring role in the upcoming Terrible Twos, I've been stressed and much more susceptible to the siren call of the cookie jar.

We agreed to get a membership at the university gym. It's a lot of money, but it's convenient for Matt after work, and Little Bear and I could go walk their track or swim while he used the equipment he wants to. We need exercise, and this seemed like a way to ensure that we got it: buying a membership would guilt us into going regularly so that we weren't wasting the money.

But then we thought about it for a few days. When would we actually be able to go? After Matt got off work was the only time; that would push dinner back, and cut out the relatively small time Matt and Little Bear get to play together before bed. Was it worth the whole cost? The only membership we could at all afford is the student one; I'd have to take a (distance ed) class so that we could get that rate. Because I'm Matt's dependent the school would waive the tuition, but we'd still be paying for fees and the book. And when would I have time to do the classwork?

We do have a gazelle elliptical machine, and a weight bench, and a perfectly good floor for doing sit-ups and push-ups on. If guilt over having spent so much money for the membership was the only reason we would spend time exercising at the gym when we don't at home, we didn't need a gym membership; we needed to take more responsibility for actually getting in shape.

So what does it take to get in shape? Everyone knows the simple answer, even if we don't like it: getting enough exercise and eating right. In that spirit, our plan is simple: we will each do some kind of exercising every day. Vague? Yes, but it'll keep us from saying "I forgot, and it's too late; better luck tomorrow"... We can always pick up a jump rope for five minutes before bed, if we really haven't done anything else. As for eating right? Farewell to my sugary carbs... We aren't dieting---we're being very clear on that point---but we are trying to change how we eat.

Dry cereal with milk is simple and convenient, but doesn't actually fill us and we wind up hungry and snacking on less healthy foods in a couple of hours. Instead, we're making sure breakfasts are filling but healthy: things like eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt with fruit. For lunches we are trying to have salads with vegetables and proteins: meat left over from the previous supper, cooked beans, hard boiled eggs, or maybe a little cheese. Suppers aren't changing much; I'm just trying to make sure the meat and vegetable components together take up more of the plate than the starch.

And because the best way to kill an attempt at eating better is to completely cut yourself off from things you really like, we fully plan to bend the rules occasionally. As long as we are both in it together, I think it'll go well... and hopefully there will be positive reinforcement from the bathroom scale to help as well!

Being the one who does the shopping and keeps the budget, I initially hesitated out of concern for what it would do to the monthly grocery bill for us to buy more meat and fresh produce... they are so expensive here! It's easy to make one chicken breast into dinner for the three of us when I'm cooking a pound of pasta to go with it. But if the meat isn't supposed to be dwarfed by the grain, and actually supply enough extra for our lunch salads the next day? There's no way. Matt reminded me that we'd been prepared to pay a lot for the gym membership, though; if we divide up what we would have spent on that and add it to the monthly grocery allowance, he thinks it will all work out. I hope so! We will see.

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