Disclosure: This is not a post intended to get you to love running or exercise or to give up churros at Disneyland. Instead, I’m sharing what worked for me. Maybe it can work for you, too.
Four months prior to our recent Disney World trip, I made a goal to get in shape. My intentions were less about vanity and more about being healthy and not dying in the middle of Orlando due to heat and humidity. I wanted to feel good on my trip and was hoping to make a “life change” rather than attempt a crash diet like I’ve done in the past.
Vacations afford us the opportunity to see family and friends and without fail, photos are taken. It felt good for me to enjoy my trip like I did with 25 pounds lost and 3 sizes down from my starting point.
It’s a realistic goal. Here’s how to do it:
In this article
After joining a gym in February and going a few weeks on my own, I saw very little progress. So, I met with a trainer and asked him to help me design a plan. Sounds expensive, right? I paid $10/month for all of it.
Planet Fitness was a good fit for me because it’s not far from my house and it holds exactly what I want: A gym with few frills, but good service. There is no child care, juice bar, or other pricey add-ons that drive monthly fees. It is well equipped with everything I needed to get in shape and the personal trainer (at no extra cost) made all the difference.
I joined for $10 down, $10 a month and I pay a $29 membership once a year in June. Those terms change throughout the year, but it won’t be much more if you look today. There is a pricier membership for $20/month, but that’s WAY out of my price range. Just kidding. But, the privileges that come with that membership were not of interest to me (tanning, massage, bring-a-guest, etc).
So, as I said before, I went for several weeks and didn’t see any results. I brought my book with me to read on the treadmill. I stayed for about an hour each visit, a few times a week.
My trainer changed all of that.
To get quick results, I planned to go 5 days a week, mostly hoping to make it each day while my kids were in school. All of my children are in full day curriculum, so this gave me the time to commit.
I got into the habit of dropping kids off at school and going straight to the gym. I work from home (for DLR Prep School and two other free-lance jobs) and I volunteer quite a bit at school and church, but I’m lucky to have the flexibility to work this into my routine.
After an hour meeting with my trainer, Evan, and two other trainees, he narrowed down what I needed to do and provided me with a worksheet detailing my goals :
- At least 30 minutes of Cardio 5 days a week (Arc Trainer Elliptical)
- Leg Resistance Training on Tuesday and Thursday (about 8 machines – 20 minutes)
- Arm Resistance Training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (about 8 machines – 20 minutes)
- Core and Ab Training M-F (crunches, planks, machines – 20 minutes)
So, that put me at about 1.5 hours, 5 days a week. I was horrified.
I hated the first two weeks because I was constantly reviewing my plan on paper and getting accustomed to the machines. (There is still one machine that I cannot figure out and I avoid it to this day.)
I hated Evan and told him this every time I saw him. As I entered the gym and as I was leaving, I reminded him.
I took several classes, which were voluntarily, but helped me familiarize myself with the gym. Often, I was solo with Evan, but sometimes other trainees were with us. He walked us from machine to machine to teach us the basics and then patiently waited for
everyone me to figure it out.
After the first couple of weeks, I started looking forward to going. Some days, I even went twice! I know…..disgusting. I was disgusting myself. But, I really started getting into it.
And, please note: I despise people who say they love running or work out because it’s fun. It’s not fun. And, each day, I’m still sure I might die at any moment because I’m pushing myself in ways that I never have. But, I’m addicted to the results and that is what takes me back each day.
I didn’t do anything radical diet wise and still indulge at the movies with popcorn & icees or on pizza night with my family. I still eat churros at Disneyland. Mainly, I showed lots of attention to portion control and I stopped snacking after dinner.
I doubt I could really be successful long-term at anything too strict food-wise because food is a big part of the things I love most in life: traveling, holidays and family time. So, instead of putting my family through any drastic dietary changes, I put more effort into my own portion control efforts and generally chose healthy options as often as I could.
Diet is a huge factor in weight loss and some believe it to be the most important. So, I ate high protein and low fat meals. I love Clif bars, so I often supplemented a meal with a bar if I was out running errands and didn’t have much time to eat.
I also always had a healthy snack on hand. Being prepared makes a big difference. That rule works in other parts of life….not just Disneyland. Who knew?
I changed my 5 day a week plan to 7 days a week after taking the first weekend off and feeling yucky. Since March, I have not missed one day at the gym, with the only exception being when I was traveling. I haven’t gone twice a day in a while because, well…..that’s just crazy. But, I have had the notion to recently. And my trainer, Evan? I don’t hate him nearly as much anymore.
See that photo of my husband and me? I wouldn’t have been wearing those clothes 4 months prior to it being taken. I hated the way I look in shorts and I’m still not a huge fan of them in general, but they were a necessity for Disney World. I was motivated.
And, with that being said, I must add: I will never be skinny. I don’t want to be skinny. I love my curves and will always have them. But, getting in shape has made me feel better. That is what is most important.
What Hooked Me
I got hooked by bringing my ear buds and plugging in. My trainer vetoed bringing in books to read (too distracting), so I sought out entertainment on TV.
The elliptical machines link up to about 10 channels and I can almost always find something mindless to enjoy like E! or TBS or Comedy Central. This once-horrible idea of gym time now appeals to me because I zone out and spend 1-2 hours on myself.
The Kardashians, Bill & Giuliana and Amy Schumer became my refuge. Instead of eating junk food, I fed my brain the junk instead. (Read: I’m getting dumber by the day since I’m not reading as much, but I’m getting in better shape. Life is full of big decisions, friends.)
I have worked myself up to 50 minutes of cardio each day, 100 crunches, planks, stretching and a few of the arm machines that I rotate. 50 minutes of cardio burns about 600 calories for me.
Once kids are back in school, I’ll meet with the trainer again to update my protocol so I don’t burn out. I doubt that I’ll work out 7 days a week for the rest of my life, but I’m going to do it for now and until I tire of it. Then, I’ll scale down and commit to another plan.
How it Helps at the Parks
As mentioned before, I didn’t plan to get healthy for vanity. I do like seeing myself in photos more now – which, of course, you’ll take dozens of at Disneyland. But, instead, I feel and am more fit and don’t tire nearly as easily as I used to. Disney World didn’t wear me out and I don’t recall once thinking my feet hurt or that I had done too much.
You will average approximately 10 miles a day of walking at any Disney park. It’s entirely more than you’re expecting and being in shape will make that more enjoyable. As you commit to an exercise program, buy a pair of shoes that you’ll want to wear to the parks and work out in those. Your feet will feel accustomed to them and the “exercise” of being at Disneyland won’t feel foreign to your feet.
If you’re interested, I suggest looking into your local gym or rec center to see what options you have. Planet Fitness has over 800 locations and is entirely affordable. If you want more in a gym, you certainly have options there, too.
Read the fine print of any gym you join and commit to one month. Evaluate where you are at the one month mark and make changes if necessary. Because I wasn’t making much progress on my own, the trainer made all the difference for me.
Getting in shape made a huge impact on my Disney vacation and if you have the means and time, I recommend doing the same for yourself.
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