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Confessions of a Couch Potato

Posted in Crazy Wisdom on Monday, September 13, 2004 at 10:46 pm by flerly.

“Look, if you had one shot to sit on your lazy butt,
And watch all the TV you ever wanted until your brain turned to mush, Would you go for it, or just let it slip?”
— Weird Al Yankovic

Article By Glenn Mueller –
Special for eFitness

Faster than a comatose snail! More powerful than a flea with a severe case of chronic fatigue syndrome! Too lazy to get up and leap over much of anything! Look! Over on the couch! It’s… It’s… Sedentaryman!

To say that I used to be a bit of a couch potato would be an understatement. In fact, my idea of a workout was getting up and manually changing the station on the television, because the batteries in the remote were dead. The very act of heading into the kitchen during commercial breaks to fix myself a snack used to leave me out of breath.

Yes, at one time in my life, I was so inactive that my lifestyle could have only made Homer Simpson proud. Although, to be fair, I was absolutely relentless when it came to lifting weights. When I say “weights,” I am of course talking about large, frosty mugs of beer. But, aside from performing many repetitions of these 12-ounce curls, the only other physical activity I participated in voluntarily was an occasional game of Madden football on the computer.

It isn’t that I didn’t want to get in shape. I just couldn’t find a workout program that didn’t require me to get out of bed. Even the least credible infomercials on television didn’t market the “Instant Gratification Workout” I was looking for. Nor could I find a workout video that would get me in shape while I slept. Which is a shame, because sleeping was one thing I did quite often. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I would have been a gold medalist.

So, you see, Mr. Couch Potato can relate to those of you who complain that you just can’t find the motivation to stick to your workout program. I know just about every excuse for not working out. In fact, I’m pretty sure I invented many of them, such as:

I couldn’t find a pair of gym shorts to match my shirt.
My body is currently involved in a top secret experiment on the effects of inactivity on the human brain.
I got caught up watching the best of The Weather Channel.
I was going to exercise last night, but the aliens that abducted me didn’t have any exercise equipment on their spaceship.

Yes, those are just some of the many lame excuses I would use to get out of exercising. But, believe it or not, the patron saint of inactivity is here to relate an important message to my fellow couch potatoes: there is hope for all of you.

Since joining the editorial team at eFitness, Mr. Couch Potato has put aside his half-baked ideas about fitness, gotten out of the sack and turned over a new spud… I mean leaf! After a few months of doing exercises at home, I have even joined a health club. Folks, if I can do it, anyone can do it!

If you’re wondering what finally persuaded a person like me to undertake such a major lifestyle change, the answer is simple: the only thing that frightened me more than adopting a regular exercise regimen was not doing it! The fact is, there is simply no way to maintain a healthy lifestyle without being active.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Susan Burke, eFitness Director of Nutrition Services, recently traveled to New Orleans to be the keynote speaker at the Weighing Down Obesity conference. She returned from the Big Easy with some frightening facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

78 percent of Americans are not meeting basic activity level recommendations.
25 percent of Americans are completely sedentary.
Physical inactivity (along with obesity) accounts for more than 300,000 premature deaths every year in the U.S. alone.

Burke says eating healthy foods and proper portion control, while extremely important, aren’t enough. “The American Dietetic Association claims that the best predictor of maintaining weight loss is being physically active,” says Burke. When advising people on the importance of physical fitness, Burke uses the analogy of an automobile.

“If you left your favorite car in the garage all the time and never used it, the car wouldn’t stay in very good condition, would it?” asks Burke. “The only way to keep the car running well is to start it up and get it moving. The same is true with your body.”

As for people who have been inactive for years, Burke says it is never too late to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. “People who have been inactive for a long time should start slowly, but they should by all means start to exercise,” says Burke.

In the words of the American Heart Association, “Just move!”


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