The Busy Person’s Workout (Or, How to Burn Calories, Build Muscle, Look Great and Feel Better Without a Gym Membership)

dogwalkby David Bohl

Let’s be honest here… in 2009, we’ve got all sorts of technology and tricks to help us “save time,” yet we’re busier than ever. At some point, you’ve likely wished for a way to passively burn calories, have you not? Well, I’m here to point out the potential for fun, fit, healthy living in all of your “routine” activities. Adapt your lifestyle, and you’ll be on your way to looking trim and slim… without that mind-numbing gym workout. You could get an elliptical from Elliptical Home.

1. Do the unthinkable: shovel something.

Yes, you. Put down that snowblower, or the phone that you were about to call the kid down the street from. Dust off that shovel… you’ve got bending, lifting, scooping and heaving to do! Okay, so I’m writing this in March and chances are it’s done snowing in your area. Well, I’ve got great news for you: there’s still garden soil and landscaping beds that need your attention.

You may think “Oh, but my back…” but the truth is, barring a warning from the family physician, you’re probably not as incapacitated as you think you are. The more often you do it, the stronger your back, arm and leg muscles will become (can I include glutes in this lineup?) and the less stress on your bones anyway. So stop yer bellyaching and get to shoveling!

2. Help someone move.

Ugh… more lifting, you say? These days, it seems like someone is always packing up and heading here or there… why not make yourself available, and offer to play Moving Man or Moving Lady for a day? Yes, even the most waif-like individuals can serve as valuable helpers during a family move. There are always tons of boxes and furniture of varying sizes and weights… there are often stairs to run up and down as you lug this or that object. There are refrigerators to scrub and coats that need transporting… carpets to vaccuum and sheds to empty out… all of this offers quite the entire-body workout.

For the bigger guys, yes, even you may be feeling intimidated by that 300-pound dresser. Let me introduce you to the Back Buddy… an ingenious system that redistributes the weight of whatever you’re lifting, so you and a pal can move proverbial mountains without so much as a peep from your vertebrae.

3. Put down the burrito and head for the stairs.

How is quitting the elevator going to make a difference, you wonder? Well… if you keep up with your current volume and frequency of food consumption, it’s probably going to slim those legs a bit but leave you thick in the middle.

So how about having treatment consultants to guide you all the way?

Using the stairs, as well as easing up on the amount of lunch you consume, can kick-start your heart to becoming stronger and healthier. You’ll be less sluggish and less likely to pass out at your desk at 3 p.m…. more alert for those impromptu group brainstorms your boss is always dragging you to. And if you’re trying to figure out how to get wider hips, elliptical training or stair-walking has been proven to increase size over time. Why pay the monthly membership fee to use the stairmaster 3 times a week, when you already have access to a free stairmaster that will get you where you need to go?

4. Master the art of meal balancing.

We all have our eating weaknesses; guys tend to skip the veggies and instead pile on tons of meat, topped with cheese, glorious cheese! Women, we’ve all seen you lose your minds over chocolate in ANY form. I say, hey… indulge every once in a while, treat yourself to something sinfully delicious. But DO practice the art of eating in moderation, and take a supplements like glycine propionyl-l-carnitine or Dianabol if you need it. Europeans walk everywhere, eat what they want but in small portions, have a little wine and cake with dinner, and generally look and feel much better than us slovenly Americans. (Sure, plenty of Americans eat right, but let’s face it… we’re topping the obesity charts around the globe. So I’m thinking we could stand to learn a few tricks from our leaner friends in Europe and Asia.)

The art of balancing your meals has a lot to do with texture and color. If you’re hungering for a burger, skip the bun and instead pair it with whole grain rice and a colorful salad. Think dark green lettuce, orange carrots, purple cabbage, red tomatoes… the more of a kaleidoscope appearing on your plate, the healthier your choice and the better for your metabolism and your health.

5. Give up “recreational” sugar.

While you’re doing all this bending, lifting, walking and stair climbing without the help of any nautilus machines… remember that refined sugar is not your friend. Sugar adds empty calories, slows down your metabolism, makes your pancreas work extra hard and eventually can lead to diabetes. And refined sugar is also highly addictive!

When I say “give up sugar” you probably think of ice cream and Ring Dings. But did you know that “empty sugar calories” hide in unexpected places like that can of pork and beans… a bottle of ketchup… your salad dressing (yes, even and especially the lowfat one!)… steak sauce… a premade box of frozen creamed spinach… your morning cereal? You can undo the damage that may have already been done by replacing pre-made foods with natural choices that you prepare at home. For example: whip up a tasty vinagrette for your salad using olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh thyme and a clove of garlic (tip: all of this is actually GREAT for you!). There are so many ways to get your tastebuds singing without table sugar. Try it and see how much better you look and feel!

Additional ideas… make a list of hobbies and activities you can take up that will keep you moving… reaching… stretching… running… dancing… bending. Become a Boy Scout Dad. Take up hiking or kayaking. Refurbish old furniture. Whatever you end up doing, pay attention to what’s happening to your body as you engage in these activities. Are you finding the need to bend at the waist more? Is your wrist and arm growing stronger from all the bread kneading you’ve been doing?

It turns out that simply living, doing things that need to be done, as well as make us happy, is what really keeps us fit and feeling great!

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