The gym: What I do, what I’ve done

Let’s talk about working out! This is going to be a long, rambly post. You’ve been warned.
I worked out a grand total of maybe…….30 times in my first year of losing weight. And that’s a generous estimate. Those “work outs” were beginner’s yoga classes at my campus gym, mostly, and I dropped those once it got too cold to walk the mile to and from class at 7pm (it was New York, it got *cold* ok).
And I still lost 70 lbs that year. With minimal to no exercise. It was all! about! diet!

But since I went to grad school on Long Island (Roll Pride!) and didn’t have a car, I got really – REALLY – used to walking places. The bus was my lifeline, and the nearest bus stop to me was over a mile away. All my life, I’d been like “OMG A MILE, SO FAR” and after a while of living in NY, it changed to “Hunh that’s only 2.3 miles away? I can walk that no problem.” So after the first year on keto, I got more active, but still not a gym-lover by any means. In the second year on keto, I’d go to zumba every now and then (2x a month, maybe) and do the elliptical at the gym for a bit (30 mins), but it wasn’t serious. I wasn’t a gym person. I didn’t work out at home, either, before you ask. Nuh unh. Never really been my scene.

Third year on keto: I graduated and moved back to AZ and uh… walking isn’t a *thing* here, especially not in the summer. Everything is really spread out, there’s nowhere to…go… in walking distance, and anyway it was like 105F every day. Not optimal for walking when you’re trying to avoid dying of heat stroke. After all that walking in New York, I felt gross sitting around my house all day – and I had all this free time to think about how I was going to continue losing weight

So I joined a gym! I didn’t feel comfortable there at first. I felt lumpy and soft and out of place (and fat, even though I was like…. 5 pounds overweight at that point, by BMI standards), and I sequestered myself in the CARDIO MOVIE THEATER every day. “What’s this cardio movie theater you speak of?” I hear you asking.
It’s the best thing of life. It’s a separate, cool, dark room at my gym with a big screen on one wall, and risers of cardio equipment set up. Bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and a stairmaster. There’s also a stretching area down on the floor. And they just…. play a movie. On a loop. ALL. DAY.
I hid in there for a LONG WHILE. It was dark, it was cool, nobody could see me, and I could watch Planet of the Apes or whatever to take my mind off the monotony of cardio.

I did a LOT of cardio at first. Strictly cardio. An hour on the elliptical, or an hour on the bike, or 45 mins on the lateral trainer (a cool sideways elliptical)…sometimes more. After a few months, I started to experiment with weight machines, but nothing serious, and never with a structured lifting plan. I did whatever I wanted every day. It was fun, but not very… productive. I gradually added in more weights, but I was primarily a cardio girl.

Around November, I hit a wall with all the cardio. I just couldn’t keep spending 2+ hours in the gym all the time, slaving away on the cardio machines. I was bored, I was exhausted, and I felt really soft. Like, my body wasn’t *changing* from all this time in the gym. I’d lost about 8-9 pounds since moving home, but it was impossible (for me) to tell.


I started with the Ketogains program in December, and learned by people-watching and looking up exercises on youtube. I started light with all my weights, and worked my way up. By March, when I started my job, I’d gotten a little tired of spending 90+ minutes in the gym on lifting days (Ketogains has a lot of exercises per workout). I switched over to the Jamie Eason LiveFit! program from bodybuilding.com, but gave up after 19 days (lol) when I got too stressed and tired from work… and my bingeing got really bad around that time. No motivation to gym. It was a rough patch.

Then I found Bodypump classes, and really enjoyed those for a few weeks! But… it didn’t feel like enough. I missed lifting. I missed how my body looked when I was lifting (muscles!!!). I missed the structure of a lifting plan. I tried LiveFit! again for a hot second but um, didn’t actually look into what Phases 2 + 3 entailed – hell no to those 2+ hour workouts. Nuh unh. I don’t live that kind of life.

And now I’m doing Stronglifts, which is a lot like Ketogains but with less accessory work (Ketogains is based on Stronglifts). It’s just 3 exercises each lifting day – squats, rows, bench press; squats, deadlifts, overhead press. I add hip thrusts to my workouts because I’m trying my gotdang hardest to grow a booty, but that’s the only tweak I made. I track using the Stronglifts 5×5 app (here’s the iPhone link) on my phone, and love it! I paid the $10 for the full version (this is not a promo, I’m not associated with them, I just like the app) and it was totally worth it.

So my gym schedule looks like this:
Sunday: Stronglifts
Monday: Cardio 20-30 mins
Tuesday: Stronglifts
Wednesday: Cardio 20-30 mins
Thursday: Stronglifts

As per the program, I alternate between A and B workouts with each lifting day. One week will be A / B / A, the next will be B / A / B, etc.
I specifically chose this workout schedule FOR ME because it gives me 4 days of work + gym; 1 day just work, no gym; 1 day just gym, no work; and 1 day totally free. Perfect for me!

Oh, and as for WHEN in the day I work out – I go on my way home from work M-Th, and in the afternoon on Sunday. I just cannot drag myself out of bed to go work out before work. I can’t. I already wake up at 5:30 to get ready and commute, so I’d have to be up at like 3:45 to get to the gym right when it opens at 4 in order to work out till 5, then shower and get ready for work. I – nope. Not for me. I’d much rather deal with slightly-more-crowded gyms at 4:30pm than put myself through that torture. Some people can do early-morning workouts – I’m not one of them! And, after all, the best time of the day to work out is WHEN YOU’LL STICK TO IT.

So that’s like…. every single possible thing I can think of when it comes to me and the gym! If you’ve read this whole post – you’re a trooper.

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