Getting In Shape; For Less?

Getting into shape is often on many Americans’ minds. And, with summer coming around after spring, magazine articles, blog posts, and other forms of media will certainly mention the subject yet again. So how do you get into shape, and can you do it “for less”?

First off, getting into shape typically refers to the appearance of the body on the outside. People who are “in shape”, at least in some people’s minds, are either lean people who exercise in a way that benefits the cardiovascular (circulatory) system (i.e., running, jumping rope, bicycling, hiking, etc.), or very muscular people who exercise by lifting weights and stretching muscles, or others somewhere in the middle. However, the term “getting into shape” is a very vague term, and consequently, the ways for “getting into shape” also vary, almost like a road that has many forks in it. But, before beginning, there is no easy, quick, or almost effortless way to get into shape. Every method listed here takes time and money. If you are impatient, build up your patience levels, and then try to “get into shape”.

The first, and probably most obvious, fork in the road is to either go to a gym or to not go to a gym. Gyms are beneficial, but only for those with the determination and self-discipline to use a gym frequently. Most people do not use their gym memberships often, if ever, mainly because of impatience or laziness. But, for those who do use their gym memberships and have the self-discipline required, then going to a gym can be very rewarding. There is yet another fork in the road for those who go to the gym, and that is what gym to use. For this paper, I will be comparing two gymnasiums that are in my area, Gold’s Gym, and the YCMA.

Gold’s Gym is focused on self-determination and muscle-building. Phrases such as “get stronger” and “help you get stronger” are littered all over the web site. The trademark for Gold’s Gym is “Know Your Own Strength”, and the logo shows a man lifting a barbell. The YMCA, on the other hand, is a gym oriented on helping families and the community. Since the YMCA is an entire organization, rather than a group of gyms, however, our focus will be on the gym part of the YMCA.  Helping and strengthening (which, in this case, means bringing together and making more resilient) the community as a whole is the YMCA’s main message. Furthermore, the YMCA defines its three focus areas as youth development, which nurturing every youth’s potential, healthy living, and social responsibility, or giving to the community. Before joining a gym, make sure you join the one that is right for you.

Now, if you instead choose to buy your own equipment, keep in mind that instead of the cost being straddled over a long period of time, the cost will be more up front. A pair of dumbbells costs around $20 or so. A simple workout bench can cost $100, and a treadmill can cost over $1000. And not everyone has the time to drive to a park. So, what are some cheaper options for “getting into shape”? Jumping rope is one of them. The upside to this is that you can, given enough practice, jog and jump rope in place at the same time, eliminating any worries about hurting the back, neck, knee, etc. The downside to this is that you need a hard floor, with a high enough ceiling, a good amount of space around you to prevent breaking anything, and a place (probably not allowed in an apartment) where you can jump rope without disturbing anyone. Not everyone has this. The other option is simple exercises such as push-ups, curl-ups, planks, and so on. These don’t require much room and are generally very quiet.

However, none of this will get anyone “into shape” (with some very rare exceptions) without a good diet. Now what is a good diet? Well, at the minimum, a good diet is one free of chemicals that would not normally be present in the human body and one that includes less sugar and more vegetables and proteins (generalization; everyone’s body and dietary needs are different).

The first thing mentioned on the list in last paragraph was for the new diet to be “…free of chemicals that would not normally be present in the human body”. This means that ingredients such as aspartame (which is made from the poop of E. Coli anyway), white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and all of its sister ingredients, i.e., ingredients which have hidden contents of MSG in them. (e.g. – Yeast Extract, anything “hydrolyzed”, maltodextrin, anything “autolyzed”, and many more ingredients), hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil, Canola oil, and trans fat. These types of ingredients are found in various soft drinks, processed foods such as store-bought breads, cookies, crackers, chips, and desserts, yogurt, ice cream, cake mixes, and anything labeled “fat free” or “sugar free”. In addition, cutting down on sugar and increasing protein (the cure to any sugar craving is protein/dairy) and vegetable consumption with a variety of vegetables can increase metabolism. And that’s just to cut down on weight.

Now as you may have noticed, I’ve been putting “getting into shape” in quotation marks. This is because there is another part of the body that also needs to get into shape; your entire system of organs and systems. That seems like a lot, and, it is, but, the process can be done gradually. Starting with something small, such as cutting out fast food or soy in our case (my brother has allergies), and then progressing forward to cut out ingredients such as canola and cottonseed oil (both of which are GMO and carcinogenic), is how my family switched to a cleaner diet. And it’s paid off. I haven’t gotten sick from a cold or flu virus (to the point where I cannot do schoolwork due to the inability to focus) in four years. You can adjust this diet according to financial constraints. For example, if you can cut out spending on expensive shoes, for you or your child (if you have one), and instead spend that money to start buying Organic products. Starting a vegetable and herb garden and raising chickens, two popular, easy, and relatively affordable projects that don’t require much space that can be enjoyable and rewarding are also options later down the road. This clean, Organic, and non-GMO diet, supplemented with herbs and spices (Rosemary, Mint, Oregano, Cayenne, Turmeric, and Garlic to name a few), can greatly enhance your immune system, overall health and wellness, and can provide you with the valuable skills such as cooking, raising chickens, and growing crops for your family, that will give you sustainable survival skills that not many people will have.

In short, getting into shape on the outside and the inside requires a heathy combination of exercise, a clean, non-GMO, and Organic diet, supplemental herbs, and the sheer will and perseverance to do it. This path to getting into shape, both on the outside and the inside, may end up in you having three survival skills, cooking, growing crops, and raising fowl , that your peers will not have.