Keep the light turned on: Energy efficient weight loss

An airplane gets most of its wear and tear during takeoff and landing.  Stop-and-go traffic is brutal on your gas mileage. Frequently turning a light on and off takes more energy than just leaving it on. As my husband tells me, that’s why those energy efficient light bulbs turn on low, and gradually get brighter and brighter.

Red Light Green Light. Photo by Nick Krug.

Remember that game we played as kids – Red Light Green Light? Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Don’t get caught moving.

The actions of stopping and starting are brutal to a lifelong weight management/exercise regimen. It breaks you down. It saps your energy. It’s discouraging. It costs your body a fortune.

I’ve noticed that a lot of fellow bloggers who have lost—or are in the process of losing—large amounts of weight are doing it in chunks. Pun intended. 🙂  They will lose 30 or 40 pounds, maintain that weight for a while, then continue on their downward, forward motion. Even with a maintenance “break,” they are making a continuous progress in the right direction. They never fully stop. And once in maintenance mode, they don’t stop watching their intake (food) and output (exercise).

In my 20s, I remember being constantly unhappy about my size. I was always trying to lose weight. In the meantime, I worked out fairly regularly on my NordicTrack. I played indoor soccer.

Because I was always looking at the negative, I failed to recognize the positive, wonderful truth:  I could basically eat what I wanted (within reason) and not gain weight, as long as I kept exercising.

The last several months of weight maintenance have been a great test. Everyone is different, but it seems my metabolism rewards me for regular workouts. I can enjoy occasional, delectable, decadent meals without doing serious damage to myself.

It’s such an encouraging, hopeful feeling. Because there is a little voice inside my head saying, “Why bother losing all this weight? You’ll never change, not really. You’ll just gain it back. You have before.”  Because I’m a girl who loves food. Apparently, I can have my cake and eat it, too, within reason—as long as I keep my body moving. As long as I don’t stop.

I can lose this weight. And I’ll be able to keep it off.

There is only one condition: Don’t ever stop. Keep the light on. Keep my butt moving.

Now we’ve just got to get back to the gym after a 2-week hiatus.

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Moonlighting as a Gym Rat

Name: Jennifer
Job title: Gym Rat
Employer: The Gym
Status: Part-time, 15 hours per week
Salary: Fitness and health
Why?
To pay off a creditor: My body

I’ve begun thinking about my time at the gym as my new part-time job. I was adding up the hours it takes and realized anew that it’s a serious commitment. Here’s our typical weeknight gym schedule:

8:15pm – pack bags and drinks for the gym
8:40pm – leave for the gym
9pm – begin working out (after putting stuff in lockers, tightening laces, etc.)
10:30pm – spend time in the steam room, then shower
11:15pm – head home
11:45pm – in bed
7am – wake up time (I do well with a good 7 hours of sleep)

With travel, showering and everything else, that’s about 3 hours per day x 5 times a week = 15 hours per week!

I’ve had to get a job as a gym rat because my body is in terrible debt. I’ve been withdrawing from my body account which has had a serious deficit for years.

The creditors—my heart, the cholesterol in my veins, my BMI—have come a knockin’ and it’s time to pay up before the grim reaper shows up at my door.

There’s something powerful about thinking of going to the gym as a job. Because going to work isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity. You need your job to pay the bills, put food on the table, and have the bank to have some fun once in a while.

Sure, occasionally you can call in sick or take a vacation day, but in general it’s a consistent, regular thing. You have no choice in the matter. I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!

In the beginning it’s a matter of survival, living paycheck to paycheck. Once your body is no longer in physical debt, then you get to start a savings account. Those reserves will give you more strength and endurance, allowing you to do more active and fun things. The savings will also stave off serious illness. Plus, you’ll look pretty awesome, too.

You’ll feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. It’s a good gig!

It’s my day off today (Sunday). I’ll be back at my part-time job tomorrow night.

What helps you get your body to the gym, day after day?