Beware the Snake Oil Salesman

...if you're thinking about getting fit and healthy.

You think that there's conflicting "facts" about food? Hah! Wait till you try exercise! There's all kinds of sneaky ways to part you from your cash, without it ever making much of a difference to your fitness or general health.

To be fair, part of it is caused by consumers' apathy and fear.

As I meander around the internet and try to get to the bottom of how to move my bottom better, so it's not sagging towards the floor, I realised that PT Barnum was right. There really is one born every minute.

The sad fact of the matter is exercise is hard. It's called a workout because you have to "work". There's no magic pill, no magic fruit discovered by a botanist in the Amazon you can sprinkle on your porridge, or electrodes that you can attach to your wobbly tummy - they don't work. There's no quick fix. No fit in 4 weeks. No fit in 4 months, even.

The trouble is, people want to believe this magic quick fix works, and when it doesn't, they give up.

Fact of the matter is: want to stop smoking, put the cigarette out and don't put another in your mouth; want to lose weight, make better food choices - not so much, more fruit and veg; want to get fit for life. Put on the shoes and work. 

Harsh, but perhaps it's time we talked straight. Yes, I know there are thousands of reasons for that other slice of chocolate cake, that last, next last fag, the pint...well, it was a hard day and it's genetic. The reason I know this, is because I've said them all.

The changes to my behaviour came about because I really wanted to be a non-smoker. I really wanted to be under 9 stone. And I really wanted to be able to say YES, when Dave asked if I wanted to go out on a bike ride.

You know me. I'm the laziest so and so this side of the Atlantic. My favourite position is horizontal. Preferably with a bowl of crisps and a glass of naughtiness within arm's reach. I'm not a morning person. I've never met a calorie I didn't like. A glass of something naughty? Why yes, I'd love another.

I made a choice. I chose now to do things that feel good. 

Not comfort-good, or stress-good, or lonely-good. But proper good.

And it seems that exercise helps me feel good. Even when I can barely walk down stairs because of the squats. Arrgh!

I've said this before, I'll repeat myself to save you having to look up my words of wisdom. You don't need to spend a huge amount of money to be fit. By all means, do get a personal trainer and 2 chefs to prepare your nutritious and delicious meals. If you want to and can afford it - go for it. I've met some incredibly committed exercisers who've got PTs and swear by (at?) them. You just don't need to. 

I can't abide gyms. I hate them. Perhaps it's because I've only walked into the ones with the women putting on their make-up before they workout. The one filled with the really skinny, ecstatic fitness buffs. You know, white smiles, orange skin? I'm told that there are proper gyms out there, full of sweaty, blobby people focused on what they're doing and aren't at all interested in what everyone else is doing in there. 

Until I find the sweaty gym, I'll do my workouts at home. I'm not blessed with cash. I spent on good shoes and when I could, I bought my gear from M&S during their sale. I have enough space in my front room. Just. I started out with a selection of DVDs, but I stick to Davina McColl's simply because she and her personal trainers are fun to workout with. I started on her 3x30 minute workouts and this morning, I've upped the pace. I'm now on her Superbody it's 40 minutes long with extra sessions if you've got the time and energy. It's also got a low impact version of all the exercises. 

It has taken me 3 months to get to this point. I'm taking it slow. I have a dodgy lower back and a knee that bitches at me. I've been in an abusive relationship, I don't need someone in my face, shouting at me, even if they say it's for my own good. Dave is worried that I do it on my own. He thinks I should get a workout buddy to push me to do more. I will eventually, but at the moment, I'm enjoying sweating on my own. If I'm tired, emotionally or physically, I rest. My aim is to do a workout every weekday morning. However, if I need to insert a rest day or a rest week, so be it. Because in the long run it won't matter. I do this because it feels good. When it doesn't feel good, I'll stop.

Nerd Fitness is a website I really love. I know, I'll stop going on about it. I love it because they say women should train like men. Strength training won't build bulky muscles. Lifting weights is good for bone density, stamina and is better for weight-loss than hours of cardio. It means there's no need to take notice of the scales, strength training leads to increased muscle density which is heavier than fat. You've got to eat properly in order to strength train. None of this carrot juice 3 times a day nonsense. They also advocate heavier weights and lower reps. Frankly, that's heaven to me. Who wants to count 50 bloody bicep curls with 1 kg? Bored now.

I've got the urge to build up my strength and do it properly - in a sweaty gym with a punch bag. I want to start landing my punches. I want to get a barbell and learn how to deadlift. I've realised that there just isn't the time to do everything I want to do. I keep looking at my running shoes and my Shiny Bike. I have friends who I want to go swimming with. There just isn't the time to fit all of the fitness things in! Arrgh!

Perhaps it's just a question of going with the flow? As it's all winter-bleak-bleugh, I could stay in and do my DVDs, build up my fitness and strength and then in the summer, switch to outdoor-focused stuff. That sounds like fun to me.

Did I really write that out loud? 

Who, the bloody hell have I become? 

I want to do it. In my very gut I want to do it. And no, that's not this morning's smoothie acting up.

Do I expect to increase my life-expectancy? Will I get a body like Davina's? Do I expect that by loading up on these happy-exercise hormones that I will never experience lows again?

Hell no. 

I'm doing it now, because it feels good. I'm sure the evangelical stage will exit stage right as the habit beds in and go back to blogging about coffee, perfume and how much I hate the festive season. Don't even be thinking that I'm buff and fit and toned and bouncy. I'm struggling with my 1.5kg weights. I've got a long, long way to go...


  1. Exercise has to be purposeful for me, or else I won't keep going. So I don't go for a bike ride, I cycle somewhere. Or I walk the dog or chop some wood or dig the garden or whatever. I really should start baking break, kneading dough is so good for the upper arms. I like doing an energetic job, but exercise for its own job is something I find excuses not to do.

    1. Fair enough. Unfortunately, my options for a more active every day life is a bit limited, being glued to my laptop for most of the day.

      But I totally get why you wouldn't and yes, it would be better to be able to 'do' something constructive.

  2. Would you be interested in a set of slightly used and very dusty weights?

    1. I would. Especially if you've got a barbell. I gotta get me one of those.

  3. Would I be the one with the PT?? ;) It's only because it's part of my gym membership deal. And it's a proper gym with real people who don't wear make-up (well, a couple do, but they're REALLY nice so you can forgive them). All ages, all sizes, and everyone's accepted for who they are. And the PTs don't shout. They encourage you and push you in a nice way. (And the zumba and yoga classes are great. Just sayin'.)
    Well done you. And I'm still impressed by your cycling! xxx

    1. Hah! You're not actually! You're one of 5 people I know with a PT! :D

      Sounds like your gym is a good and nurturing place to be. Dave did some research and has found a potential sweaty gym...and boy does it ever look sweaty. Now to get strong enough so I can walk in without anyone falling about laughing.

  4. I've got the barbell and I can teach you to do proper deadlifts. And bicep curls, and working on your pecs, lats and traps. All at home. All with a simple set of weights (dumbbells and a barbell). Too bad we live so far apart. Sometimes I need that workout partner just to get me motivated. But having lived with an abusive man who was also a dedicated weightlifter/body builder, I learned all the correct ways to lift weights. For that I am thankful. For the rest of the relationship... not so much! Good on you for doing what you're doing. It IS a lifelong commitment to change your lifestyle for the better and yes, it is damn hard work! You GO, Girl!!!! xoxoxo

    Right. I am off to the basement to get on my treadclimber and do some cardio. :-)

    PS - Don't worry about the sweaty gym and getting strong enough. Having worked out in lots of those, the people are helpful and appreciate where you're at training-wise. If you can afford it, just do it.

    1. Why am I not surprised you know these things?! You're just bloody awesome.

      I'd totally be up for doing lifting in your basement. I could come over and we could sweat and swear and go for a beer after! :)

      Yeah, maybe I should just get over myself. Though, to be honest, the affordability is an issue. At the moment, I'm doing okay at home. I'm sure I can find the right person to ask at the right time when I need to take it up a level.

    2. The thing to remember when lifting weights is "form is everything!" You see guys with huge muscles yanking on huge stacks of weights but using all kinds of muscles aside from the ones the movement is supposed to be targeting. Lesser weights, slower (and very controlled) up and down, and proper form means you achieve the best workout for that particular muscle. It also means a much lesser chance of injuring yourself. Isolating the muscle you intend to work works it better, safer and actually in less time than using massive weights and crap form.

      I'd love for you to come workout with me, Roses. I totally understand the affordability thing. I don't have the money for a gym membership, despite there being two within walking distance of my house. I'm sinking all my hard earned cash into house renos (and a little side trip to Vegas!) so I do what I need to do at home. Working out at home is perfectly acceptable. Just keep doing what you're doing, honey! :-)

    3. Right you are. Light, controlled, focus on the form.

      We are going to have to organise a session!

  5. Dammit, now I feel ashamed. I must get the weights out again. I even bought a weightlifting belt to help with my deteriorating discs, even tho I'm only doing arm curls. 15-20 kilos, mind :p In summary, you shame me =)

    1. Oh bless. I'm sure I don't shame you at all.

      And I'm now on day 10 of recuperating after nasty Lurgy. So, I'll be starting from scratch again.

      If you've got a deteriorating back, perhaps a session with a PT would be a good idea first? See what would be good to build your strength up before you start lifting?


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