Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Exercise and television: a pledge for you and me

195 pounds
I'm sure most of you know that watching television is directly linked to obesity. As a matter of fact, "For every two hours spent watching TV, there is a 23 percent increase in the risk of obesity."*

So I guess we should all stop watching TV altogether, huh?

Yeah, right.

No one—not my doctor, not my husband, not you—is making me give up Mad Men or The Office or 30 Rock or Southland. (If you can't tell, I like to spend Thursday nights in front of the TV.) Why won't I give these things up? Because certain television shows help me relax and give me a break from my real world concerns. I'm sure you have shows you're not willing to give up for the same reason either. And I don't believe that giving up our favorite television shows—shows that sometimes help us keep our sanity—is the answer.

So rather than give them up, I'm going to make them work for me.

When I was laid up with my knee injury this summer, the only exercise I could do was on the floor, where I did stretches, leg lifts and sit-ups and lifted weights. I did this for an hour a day, and in order to keep from dying of boredom—and stay motivated—I watched television while I did it.

Normally, I'm not a fan of having the television on during the daytime, but you know what they say about desperate times.

As it turns out, I'm entering a bit of a desperate time again. I found out on Friday that I'm going to be teaching five classes this semester instead of three. Yes, I said five. And if you know anything about college professors, you know that's more classes than most of us teach.

I know from past experience that this could be a recipe for disaster in terms of my health and my weight. I haven't told you the whole story yet (and I will soon), but the last year I lived in North Carolina and the first six months I lived in Kentucky, I gained about twenty pounds because my life was so hectic that I didn't have time to eat well or workout on a regular basis.

But I'm not giving in so easily this time. After all, I've got this blog to keep me motivated. And there aren't many things more motivating than having to post your weight online twice a week. Sure, I have a tough schedule, but that doesn't mean I can't find ways to stay healthy.

Since cooking food at home is a crucial part of my approach to weight loss and healthy living, I'm going to be forced to be just like the couple I discussed in my "Nothing beats a home-cooked meal" post, making food with Dave on Sunday that will have to last all week.

I'll also have to find different ways to fit in my exercise routine. The first way to do that is to exercise before I go to work in the morning (at least three days a week)—something I always hate to do but which is now necessary if I have any chance of getting in a real workout on weekdays. And the second way to do that is to start exercising in front of the television again. In fact, I'm going to make a commitment to exercise for at least thirty minutes every time I turn the TV on. I don't watch television every night, but when I do watch The Office and Mad Men and 30 Rock this semester, I'm going to be on the floor, hoisting weights in the air and crunching my way through dozens of sit-ups.

(Of course, in addition, I'll supplement these weekday activities with more frequent and more fun exercise on the weekends.)

What I would love is if I could get some of you to commit to doing the same. What do you think? Anyone want to make this pledge with me? Thirty minutes of exercise every time you turn on the TV? Let's say just weekdays to make it a little bit easier. To be honest, some part of me thinks that if everyone American made this pledge, we'd be a country of healthy individuals in no time.

So what do you think? Are you game?

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