Burn, baby, burn! (And you don’t have to burn your money!)

12 Feb

You can work up a sweat — without sweating bullets about how you’re going to pay for it!

I believe a big reason why I’ve never been able to get this damned weight off — and added more — was that I believed I had no time or money to work out. Even when things were SLIGHTLY better ’round these parts, I honestly didn’t know how I’d squeeze gym business hours — at a gym that cost, say, $30 a month (And that’s cheap from what I hear.) into my second-shift schedule. Sure, sure. A lot of them are open before the roosters crow. Try doing that when you’ve had to cover an election all night.

Some people can get by without exercise. I can’t. Sure, there’s the health benefits, etc., but here’s the key for me: Note the first three letters of the word “diet”. That’s what you often find yourself wanting to do more than diet any longer. Dieting is miserable. Yes, there are low-fat chocolates and things like that out there now, but you’re still having to deprive yourself of so much that you want. I still haven’t found low-fat sausage pizza yet, and I LOVE it. I also can’t eat it.

Exercise, however, is a much different story. I won’t lie and say it’s easy. I’ve collapsed into bed many nights after working out. I’ve had to deal with sore feet, you name it. But there are ways you can have fun while exercising. If you have a friend join you for the day, you add socialization to the whole mix. That’s nearly impossible with dieting. Exercise also leaves you with a positive psychological feeling every time you manage to survive it.

But what do you do when your schedule and wallet don’t allow you to exercise like everyone else does? Well, that’s when you get crazy creative, like I do.


Have you ever watched MSNBC’s “Lockup”? It’s one of my “guilty pleasure” shows. Basically, MSNBC goes into prisons and interviews all involved in prison life — guards, wardens, inmates, you name it. Some of the inmates have become their own little icons, like that guy in Kentucky who does an entire monologue on the importance of “booty” in prison.

One of the things they’ve shown is the ways the inmates keep themselves entertained when they’re locked in tiny cells for most of the day. A lot of them have become fitness fanatics. They may or may not have access to a weight room, and they certainly don’t have access to a posh Gold’s Gym. So, they must be REALLY creative.

One of their workouts I’ve copied is something I call “cell runs”. These guys just run back and forth in their cells. I’ve done that in my apartment, and with great results. I had to literally dash up the street at a bank robbery scene for work, and I would have never been able to do it without my cell runs. There’s also bench pressing your cellmate, using shower bars for pull-up bars, etc.

Utilize your tax dollars

Your tax dollars often go to work by supporting parks, recreation facilities, trails, etc. Put them to use.

A favorite place for people to walk when I was growing up was our local state park. We had a nice walking trail with bridges, shady spots (great for summertime), creeks and all of that pretty natural stuff. When I lived in Huntington, Ritter Park had an even nicer trail, complete with a very high staircase that went up at mountain — and into one awesomely gorgeous rose garden. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet to this day.

I admit that there’s also a national park near where I live right now. I haven’t taken advantage of it, namely because the weather has been so horrible lately. Once this latest pile of snow from hell clears, though, I’m headed to the woods.

Take a lesson from the French

I found this awesome online story called “4 Ways French Women Stay Thin (Without the Gym)“, and I’ve incorporated a lot of this into my diet and exercise routines. These include parking in the back of the lot and taking a longer walk to the store’s entrance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and using bicycles as a primary form of transportation. I know the latter is impossible in some places, like where I live, but there’s some urban areas that have separate lanes for bicyclists on city streets. Jacksonville, Fla., has several.

Get “malled”

This is one of the most dangerous things to do for the impoverished, but you can use it to your advantage. Go to your local mall and just walk around. The good part of walking in a shopping mall is that you’re indoors, and you don’t have to worry about weather spoiling your walk like it would if your usual spot was on an outdoor trail.

Here’s why it’s dangerous: Being next to stores means you will be more tempted to spend money you don’t have. So here’s what you do: Make sure you don’t bring any more than a few bucks and only your photo ID. Leave all extra cash AND ESPECIALLY your credit cards, at home. If you don’t have enough cash, and you’re extra-tempted, you will make an even bigger mistake with the credit cards.

If you’re out of work, this may also be a good move for you. A place with multiple businesses inside may mean you can pick up multiple job applications. Fill them all out in the food court and turn them in as you make another lap. You can celebrate two accomplishments in one day.

Phone a friend

This is a “lifeline” in more ways than one. Any time you’re on the phone with someone, walk around. Don’t lounge on the couch. Sure, this isn’t possible for a lot of situations. I’m on the phone a lot for my job and taking notes while doing that. I have to stay seated then. But if I’m home and just talking on the phone with my parents, my best friends, etc., I’ll literally pace the floors. A long conversation with someone can wear you out in more ways than one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Get down with your bad self

This may sound totally ridiculous, and you’ll feel totally ridiculous for the first few minutes or so when you’re doing this. But man, it is ever a release and a blast. Put on whatever your favorite music is and dance, trash, headbang, jump around, do a bad impersonation of Tom Cruise in “Risky Business” or just shake your rear. If you have the dancing skills of a wino living under a bridge, you may want to do this alone. You may want to do this alone, period, because not having someone stare you down lets you throw inhibition to the wind.

It’s great to throw that inhibition to the wind. Whenever life is stressful, you need every kind of release you can get. It helps to laugh at yourself. It helps to make a fool out of yourself.

You’ll also burn a hell of a lot of calories. Going through just one song absolutely wears me out.


2 Responses to “Burn, baby, burn! (And you don’t have to burn your money!)”

  1. Newlywed & Unemployed February 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Do burpees! (Google it) They are an excellent no equipment workout. What Gary’s going to use instead of the gym when he’s on the road.

    Also, very useful tidbit of info I learned last month: exercise at your heart rate. We’ve heard it a bazillion times, but I never understood Why until now. When you’re above your heart rate, your body’s throwing muscle on the fire because it’s the easiest fuel at hand. When you stick to your heart rate, your body throws fat on the fire.

    And I gotta tell ya, 124 bpm is way easier to maintain for an hour than 174+! It’s a stroll!

    • flatbrokegirl February 13, 2010 at 1:28 am #

      I’ve never heard about that! I will definitely have to try that. I’ve often found — from my experience, anyway — walking for an hour is better and easier than running for five minutes. Maybe that’s what it was all about. 🙂

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