Just before the pandemic lockdown was announced last year, we went shopping for the cheapest treadmill we could get our hands-on, and that meant we got a very basic model. It only has the basic functions for brisk walking, running, alternating walk/jog mode, and a manual selection for the running speed we desired. It reports the calories burnt, distance, heart rate, and running time. That’s it. What’s the price? About MYR1,023.
Why get such a basic model? Because my husband and I are not fitness people. Actually, we are quite the opposite, we are what some people may call foodies or food lovers (like the majority of Malaysians are), and being parents with young kids, we have less time to exercise, so who are we kidding getting a fancy expensive treadmill with all the bells and whistles that we most likely won’t use or maybe use at most 5% of the time.
Fast forward to now, another lockdown has been imposed due to rising infection rates in our city, and so outdoor group exercise has been banned in our area. Even if this was not so, we did not want to take the risk of bringing our three children out as the parks can be crowded on the weekends. At this rate, we didn’t know when the pandemic will subside down and when it will be safe to go outside again. If I were to guess, it will only get better after vaccination rates are at least 50% or ideally at 80% of our country’s population.
So, consider the below equations:
Staying at home = Lack of physical activity = Weight gain
Having young kids = Stress eating = Weight gain
Fun fact, in my opinion, the amount of weight gain will increase with the number of children you have, so in my case, I have three little kids, so it’s either I’ll balloon up in size or I’ll shrivel down to a raisin due to having no time to eat while juggling their needs and working a full-time job.
Logically, weight gain will be inevitable. Unless you are one of those people with a naturally high metabolism and can eat a lot of food and still remain thin. But for the majority of us sadly this is not so, especially the older we get, our metabolism does slow down.
Therefore, here are some proposed unconventional methods to lose weight, and do not worry, dieting is not involved.
1. Place your exercise equipment in a central location in the house
Put it in a location you can’t miss, the more eyesore that piece of equipment is, the better. In our house the treadmill is placed in our living room next to our wall-mounted television for two reasons:
a) It will stare back at you, reminding you to reap the return of investment (ROI) from it Daily, when you eat, when you rest, when you watch the TV, you can’t help but notice it. You may even imagine it whispering into your head, words such as “Use meee…else you wasted moneey…“
b) Watching a show or short Youtube video while jogging/walking takes your mind off the time and physical pain of exercise
A distraction to numb your physical pain while you run, akin to alcohol to a stressed-out mind or a heartache, is a TV distraction to jogging. Before you know it, you have reached 20 mins of running time quota or your target number of calories burned. Exercise accomplished for the day.
Do not place it in a room, hidden from view, and forgotten, to collect dust balls and spider webs. If you are not a person who is into fitness, and especially if you have kids, you will most likely neglect that piece of exercise equipment for work, house chores, or the kid’s 101 demands and sleep.
2. Get a health screening done
There’s nothing like a health check report telling you that you have high cholesterol or are borderline hypertensive (at risk for high blood pressure) to motivate you to change your lifestyle and exercise more. More so if the doctor threatens to prescribe you daily medications to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Sometimes the medications prescribed are to be taken for the rest of your life, becoming a long-term health problem.
Fortunately for me and my husband, our employers subsidized our health screening / medical check up every two years to ensure its employees are fit to work ( and to expect the maximum productivity levels from us at work in return).
So we recently went for one in March of this year. Results, one of us was diagnosed with high cholesterol. The doctor then recommended my husband to exercise, since we are still relatively young, and then requested my husband to come back again a year later for another check up. If his cholesterol levels are still high, he will potentially be prescribed with medications to control his cholesterol levels. That was what triggered us to make exercise a regular routine, as we have kids to care for and no one can replace their mummy and daddy. Of course, it is always better to prevent then to treat via medication.
3. Walk everywhere, even when you don’t have to
This is simple, if you are relatively healthy and are able to do so, walk as much as you can. Quick story, when I was at my first job after graduation, I gained 8 Kilograms over the span of three years working there. This was not only because I was working long hours and stress eating after work, it was also because the work I did there didn’t require me to move around much. I can say that 80-90% of the time I was in front of my laptop doing reviews of technical drawings from customers and following up with process engineering for the feasibility and cost to produce the new products.
Then I changed jobs to another field of work at a larger manufacturing company, which was large both in factory size and surface area literally. I had to walk a lot at work. At the minimum, it required us to walk for at least 10 minutes daily just to get to my office from where we parked the car, and then another 10 minutes walk back to the car after work. Additionally, as an engineer I had to go into the production area frequently, so even more walking. I then lost the weight relatively fast and kept it off. I did not significantly eat less, nor did I exercised more. I just HAD to walk more, way more than I did before, and it was 5 days a week.
So, I encourage you, if you dislike running and jogging, just walk. Park your car further away from the shops, or take the stairs whenever you can. That can be your extra calories burned for the day.
4. Don’t diet, enjoy food instead and rely on exercise to balance off the weight gain
This is a little controversial, and it sounds counterintuitive, but it is logical. I’ve never dieted because I enjoyed food too much to diet. I get really grouchy aka ‘Hangry‘ when I cut down food or don’t eat enough or restrict my diet. In my past three pregnancies, the hardest trimester for me has always been the first trimester especially when I had morning sickness and bad nausea from weeks 8 to 14. This is because I couldn’t enjoy food in those months.
What I meant to say is, by not giving up food, your only choice to keep the weight off is to increase physical activity / exercise. It’s like dangling a piece of chocolate or Lay’s potato chip in front of you while you run, thinking that after you finish 20 minutes on the treadmill, I get to eat what I want, that kind of thing. It may sound drastic, but if it works, it works.
Anyway, sustainable weight loss is gradual and takes time. You need to incorporate a lifestyle that is not too drastic of a change from the current one and one that you can keep to daily, then even when you’re stress at work or busy with kids, you should be able to maintain the routine.
Also, did you know dieting will cause your metabolism to slow down eventually, and this makes your body gain weight easier in the long term. Refer to this Vox article on this condition, below is a passage extracted from this report under myth number six that states that dieting can slow down your metabolism:
“For years, researchers have been documenting a phenomenon called “metabolic adaptation” or “adaptive thermogenesis”: As people lose weight, their basal metabolic rate — the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest — actually slows down to a greater degree than would be expected from the weight loss.
To be clear: It makes sense that losing weight will slow down the metabolism a bit, since slimming down generally involves muscle loss, and the body is then smaller and doesn’t have to work as hard every minute to keep running. But the slowdown after weight loss, researchers have found, often appears to be substantially greater than makes sense for a person’s new body size.”
Another report here basically says the same thing. So far all researches are indicating dieting alone or cutting calories will not be effective in keeping the weight off you.
That is it, my 4 uncommon / unconventional ways to encourage yourself to exercise more and to lose weight. If you have other unconventional ways, feel free to comment. Thank you for reading and I hope this written post brings you some value.