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To those of us that suffer the misfortune to have been “in shape” or “fit” at some point in our lives and then watched our hard-won muscles slowly wither away only to be replaced by flab and are now caught in a vicious cycle of laziness and regret that drags you under whenever someone mentions the word “run,” I guess this post is a sort of shout out to you guys. (I’ve never done a shout out before, it feels a little weird.)

Anyway, this can happen when we begin attending our “higher” education. One big reason: we no longer live with our parents. This may have changed since I’ve been in school, but everyone I knew was experiencing their first real taste of freedom; and none of us took it well. After the initial week of realizing that we could have pizza and ice cream for our 4 square meals, we also came to realize that this freedom also included the ability to determine our sleeping schedules with impunity. You can see where this sudden freedom is taking us. And to the people that managed to keep exercising in college (without being on an official sports team) you either have more self-discipline than I will ever have, or you went to a school in a 10 mile radius of your parents.

So how do we go about obtaining this self-discipline? Easy answer first. You get someone important to you to provide the appropriate motivation (read: threats). This can be your boyfriend, girlfriend, close friend, sibling, parent, whatever. Just keep in mind that whoever this is needs to able to get in your face about it. Again, this is why group exercises in the gym work wonders. If nothing like this works, then you are on your own; because there is literally nothing I can say to change your mind. The turning point has to come of your own volition. I was stuck at this point for a long time. For X years, I occasionally dragged myself out of the apartment, ran around the block, lamented how I was nowhere near my high school days, and gave up. The turn finally came to me in a clichéd sort of way: when I was least expecting it. My girlfriend was showing me a series of photographs of a woman who had lost over 150 pounds or some other equally unfathomable number. And it suddenly hit me. It was everything that The Biggest Loser wishes it could inspire. I finally realized that I had no excuse to be out of shape.

And before everyone starts going off on me, I know that it’s not that simple. I’ve been there; I know it’s hard to drag yourself away from the laptop to subject your body to the intense pain and suffering associated with “beginning an exercise routine.” But yeah, it’s worth it.

Before we go, I’ll dispense some details about my exercise routine, because it’s been working out for me. I don’t have a gym membership; as nice as those group exercises are, my money is better spent elsewhere. I exercise in the morning, usually first thing. Most of the time, evening exercise doesn’t work out; it’s too easy to be tired from your day and make an empty promise that you’ll make up for it tomorrow. I recommend running in large amounts (more than a mile). If you live near a track, you can keep track of your distance easily; you just need to be fond of running in circles. Please note that you can also plot a course through your neighborhood for a change of scenery and measure via Google maps. Most people want arm strength (including me), so I do plenty of pushups and pull-ups. Building up the abs is also important, so I do that too. If all of this is making you sore, try a foam roller; it really helps your muscles and joints.

Hopefully, this will help some people wallowing in indecision. If not, oh well.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Blakley.