Family Matters

Boot Camp, Week 4: Hooked, I’m Signing Up for Month 2

A committed anti-exerciser finds out the healthy life isn't half bad.

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Peter Kindersley / Lifesize / Getty Images

It’s Week 4 of boot camp, and I’m hooked.

That’s right; the ersatz anti-exerciser actually looks forward to her early morning workouts so much that she’s reupped for another month.

True, I haven’t lost much weight — 1 lb. after the first three weeks — and I don’t know if the final week was any kinder since I decided to heed readers’ advice and stop weighing myself. Body fat measurements can be a more accurate indication of progress than weight loss. So I measured my body fat composition by grasping a handheld device that apparently sent electrical pulses through me and reported the grim details back digitally: 27.2%. That sounded like a lot of blubber, but Nate, one of the guys who puts us boot-campers through our paces, said women average between 23% to 28% fat. Guess that means the baby weight I gained and never lost around my hips and belly is A-okay. Or not.

Under the assumption that my body is handily losing fat and gaining muscle, which weighs more and may account for my unimpressive weight loss, I’m motivated to keep going with what can feel, at moments, like a pretty punishing routine. On Tuesday, I did more than 100 push-ups, which I find astounding. Granted, they’re the “girlie” kind, done on my knees instead of my toes. But Miles, the other trainer, says it’s better to slightly alter an exercise and maintain good form rather than fail at standard push-ups.

MORE: Unhealthy Eating as Occupational Hazard?

And, the darned scale aside, I am feeling better. I have much more energy and don’t experience the same midday fade that I usually do. Exercising hard first thing in the morning gives me a sense of accomplishment. Even if I get nothing done for the rest of the day, at least I’ve made my daily contribution to healthy living.

Part of healthy living is healthy eating, of course. For the first three weeks of boot camp, I followed a no-carb diet designed to boost results. This week, I’ve more or less ditched the no-carb diet; not only was it extremely restrictive, but I wasn’t seeing the weight loss I’d anticipated. Yet it hasn’t been a complete wash. I’m now far more aware of the carb content in foods I eat, and I expect that will continue. Not that I won’t ever enjoy a steaming bowl of fettuccine or a crispy baguette, but I don’t think I’m going back to the days of cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta or rice for dinner. Basically, the diet has raised my carb consciousness. Because carbs are everywhere, they’re hard to avoid. But there are good carbs (whole grains) and not-so-good carbs (white bread). Is it my imagination that as I’ve slowly added carbs back in, I’ve felt more sluggish? I’ll be paying attention to that going forward.

MORE: Study: Cutting Carbs Two Days a Week Is Better than Full-Time Dieting

I’ve also learned that I have far more self-restraint than I realized. I’ve always thought of myself as having very little willpower, but I’ve found that’s not entirely true: for the first time ever, I turned down brownie and doughnut samples being passed around at a Starbucks. That was one for the record books.

Meanwhile, I feel like I have a leg up on the new year. My New Year’s resolution, to get in better shape, began at the beginning of December; I’m a month ahead of most people. Now all I have to do is carry on. When I started boot camp, the title of a new book, Working Out Sucks, and its amusing video clip resonated with me. Now I might beg to differ.

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