Skinny Daily Post


My brother cracked me up the other day. Heís a guy who has always been fit. Or at least, his idea of being ďunfitĒ means heís let himself slide to a degree of fitness most of us pine for. He told me heís planning to start running again, just as soon as he gets himself a new MP3 player.

You could plainly see he wouldnít put in a single mile without new gear.

Huh. That was illuminating. I always imagine that very fit people donít procrastinate, donít waffle, donít make excuses. I imagine that they are built of different stuff than I am. Because I have to force myself to exercise, I assumed that those who are naturally fit must live for it. You canít keep a fit person down.

Unless they donít have the right gear? Could it be that we are all the same when it comes to making excuses about exercise?

I am not immune. I am a bona fide gear nerd. I like equipment. I like a setting, the right shoes, the outfit, the measurement devices. New forms of workouts are more interesting to me when they require new tools. I can pore over product catalogs of gear Iíll never own for sports Iíll never try with the greatest interest, discernment, passion. How necessary is any of this gear?

Itís not.

Human beings have always been able to achieve great levels of fitness, lowered body fat percentages, stronger hearts, improved circulation without any equipment at all. You donít need the MP3 player, you donít need the DVD player, you donít need the microfiber, and actually you donít even need the shoes.

Just you in your skin using gravity and the floor can grow extraordinarily fit without any investment whatsoever. Try daily pushups, situps, and lunges for a few months to see what I mean.

If you want to build muscles and strength faster, you can pick up anything you have lying around the house to add weight to your workout. Soup cans, water bottles, milk jugs. You can tie athletic socks stuffed with rice or sand to your ankles for leg weights and climb up and down your own stairs. Duct tape reversed around your palms and the balls of your feet (let the tape pick up a lot of carpet fuzz or pet hair so it loses most of its stick first) can replace a sticky mat for your yoga practice. Dance to the beat of your own music to get your heart rate up.

Couch potatoes can do seated leg extensions and isometric leg presses, biceps curls and flyes during commercial breaks without ever leaving the couch. And never underestimate the effect that stretching everything out while chatting on the phone can have on your fitness and stress levels.

You donít need no stinking stuff to get in a good workout. Itís always fun to have it, yes, but not having it should never stop you. Figuring out ways to work around it can be pretty fun, if you like penny pinching. And these days, who doesnít?

One manís method

Cheapo workout by Liz Neporent at iVillage

4 thoughts on “The Right Stuff

  1. May says:

    First of all, i wanted to thank you Juju for this wonderful site and its inspiring thoughts/articles. It really gives me that little push of support that gets me going. You look gorgeous and keep up the wonderful writing and beautiful sharing. ūüôā

    I’m not 100% positive that this works but i think i feel better after doing this mini-workout that was presented in the Health and Fitness magazine. i work a desk job so i sit about 6 hours. Keep your feet planted on the floor, sit up straight in your chair, and breathe in and hold for about 15 seconds. Hold your abs tightly and pull your stomach towards the direction of your spine. Let the breath out and repeat. I usually do about 3 reps (15 per set) of this. My abs feel tighter and it’s definitely a great stress reliever! ūüôā

  2. Jeanne says:

    Hi, Julie,

    I’ve been a faithful reader since the first of the year. Too bad I don’t wear hats, I’d tip one to you – you rock! I’ve got between 40 and 50 lbs. to lose. About fifteen pounds of it crept on over the last year, when I lost my job and tried-and-failed to finish my Master’s thesis – on (get this!) the media’s influence on body image dissatisfaction in pre-adolescent girls. I just hated myself too much to even go for a walk, much less plan sensible meals and get to the gym. It’s painful to even think about now.

    One night in September 1998 I had a dream. I don’t remember what it was about, but I do recall saying to somebody, “I DO NOT INTEND…” Don’t intend what, honey? Who knows? But that started an amazing ball rolling. At that time, I was probably only fifteen or twenty pounds over my ideal weight, but I got such a bee in my bonnet that I DID NOT INTEND TO BE FAT ANYMORE. I got a beautiful blank notebook, pasted two inspiring pictures inside (a woman sitting in the lotus position while knitting, and a completely ripped and sculpted 50-year-old woman running along the beach), set my alarm for 4:00 AM, and got moving. For three months, I went to the gym every morning, cooked fabulous low-fat food, and wrote in my journal every day. When I started, I hardly lasted five minutes on the elliptical track machine; by Thanksgiving I was running on the treadmill, fast and non-stop, for 30 minutes. While the number on the scale didn’t move much (I know – I was losing fat and building muscle!), my clothes got baggy, I had the most beautiful arm muscles, and walked around in an endorphin haze. I gave myself gold stars in my journal for every new acomplishment. What makes me shake my head in amazement about all this now is that 1998 was absolutely the worst year I’ve ever lived through. I was walking around with undiagnosed clinical depression. I don’t know where I got the chops to pull off something so POSITIVE at such a time; that’s what has bothered me for years about trying to control my weight – the motivation to keep going has been so mercurial, and has flourished or dried up for no reason I could understand (or anticipate, or encourage).

    Last Friday at lunchtime, I started in on the backlog (backblog?) of the essays of yours I’d missed. I can’t pinpoint it, but somewhere between the on-line running coach and guess-what?-I’m-running-a-marathon, I GOT MY MOJO BACK! My feet started tingling; I wanted to go home, put on my sweats and RUN. To say the least, I was impatient to finish my work day!

    Today I feel sore, but wonderful. Now I need to figure out what to eat, but at least I don’t have that nasty little voice in my head, telling me that I’ll fail. I need to work out something I can live with that will neither raise my cholesterol nor cause carbs to stick to my thighs like glue. I’ve put some of the books you discuss on hold at my library, and look forward to gleaning the gold nuggest. Developing a food plan may require some fine-tuning, but if I start with “fresh” and “unprocessed”, I’ll be okay.

    I feel very confident that this time will be different, and I’ll see this through to a maintainable weight.

    Thank you for the goose, um… PUSH! ;D

  3. JuJu says:

    Hey May! Thanks so much for the tip. I love office chair exercises.

    Jeanne, what a story! Thanks so much for sharing it. We want to hear about that thesis when it’s done. I wish, wish, wish that motivation weren’t, as you say, “mercurial,” but it just is. I’m glad Skinny Daily helps, but I’m betting your journal will help even more. Please share your ideas more often. We want to hear from you.

  4. Abby says:

    Hey Julie!
    Love the column. I’ve gotta admit though, there is one piece of “equipment” without which I would never make it through a single workout: my faithful sports bra. I’m rather well endowed, and I’ve finally found a great place to find COMFORTABLE, SUPPORTIVE sportswear that ACTUALLY FITS!!!
    I hope this site helps your many readers!

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