Exercise. Ugh. It’s always been the bane of my existence. I’ve been fighting the reality for years, trying to kick-start my weight loss efforts by denying myself food, or taking prescription drugs.

Not anymore, baby!

My goal for the 50 Million Pound Challenge has less to do with weight loss, and more to do with fitness. And Fitness = exercise, at least an hour a day, according to Dr. Ian Smith. Just last week, I faced up to my I-can’t-exercise excuses. Now the challenge is to find something I like doing!

I use the tools at my disposal — my parents gave me an incredible elliptical trainer some years ago, and I have a love/hate relationship with my Wii Fit. I love it because it measures my weight and BMI every time I use it, so that really helps to keep me on track. But I hate when it throws those numbers in my face and reveals that I haven’t met my own goals.

I’m satisfied with the workout equipment I have, but every now and then I do get bored with my routine. For bellas who are members of a gym, it can be easy to switch up your workout — try interval training, or check out the list of classes they might offer, there’s bound to be something fun and different. But what about bellas looking for a workout at home?

Here are the latest forms of exercise I’ve been looking into, to expand my own horizons and add some fun to my routines. Maybe you’ll find a suggestion to get your indoor or outdoor sweat on as well!

1. Zumba. After so many of you raved about how much fun it is in the comments of my last post, how could I not give this a try? Founded in my current hometown of Miami, it’s all about moving and grooving to Latin rhythms. I can definitely get down with that! According to Dr. Ian, dancing can work out 420 calories an hour! Zumba DVDs are available on Amazon, you can score sweet deals on Ebay.

2. Hula hooping! There’s Hoopnotica and there’s Hoop Girl. Ever since I befriended a hallucinating hippie girl at last year’s Langerado festival, I’ve been obsessed with hula hooping. I get my fix with the Wii Fit (you’re reading the words of a proud Super Hula Hooper, here), but now I want to master the hoops for real. The Hoopnotica basics DVD costs $19.95, but the hoops cost like $40! The Hoopgirl DVD costs $24.99, and hoops start at $29.95.

3. Roller skating, baby! Confession time — I never learned to roller skate, so I’ve always had skate envy. As for inline skates, forget it — I’ve tried and failed miserably (and painfully) more than once. Maybe it’s time I give it yet another try — according to Skatelog you can drop pounds through skating, so if you see a chick wobbling and weaving her way through the parks in Chicago during the summer, please don’t stare and point. I’m just trying to get into the groove.

The beautiful thing about skating is, you can do it outdoors in good weather and use it as a form of speedy transportation, or you can find an indoor rink and make it a weekend recreational thang.

4. Cycling. I can’t tell you how much I miss my footloose and fancy-free university days. Back then, a red bike was my trusty steed. But somewhere in the rush to join the Miami workforce, I learned to drive, and forgot all about the joys of bike riding. When the weather’s right, there’s no feeling more freeing than going for a ride. When’s the last time you went for a bike ride outside? And I can’t tell you how many awesome things I hear about spinning. I’ve never done it myself, but I know quite a few friends who swear spinning changed their lives.

I’m looking to add one of these fun ways to exercise to my routine. What’s your favorite way to work out? Got any suggestions for a bella just getting into the game?

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Maria de los Angeles says:
March 12, 2009, 9:46 pm
Also, the thing about skating, when done properly (knees bent, etc;) is that it REALLY tones your legs and butt. It's possible to look way slimmer even if the scale says you don't, because those muscles are getting toned and tightened. Will living in Chicago give you more of an opportunity to do everything by walking? That alone will boost one's fitness.
st.kitts 'suga' bella says:
March 12, 2009, 10:06 pm
coming from a former dancer i would have to agree that is the most appealing way i can imagine attempting to get fit again... however, coming from an island girl, like yourself, the kind of dancing i used to be able to engage in freely for fun, is no longer as easy to get into, even in Miami... the "Mecca of Trans-Caribbeanness" (zumba or not) i suggest you dabble with the kind of movement you are most comfortable with at this point in your life. just like gyrating in the streets or at a beach club is no longer "my thing" you might find that the stepping culture in chicago, can become your own "grown and sexy" workout. not only that, but it invites the chance for you to involve your husband to partner, some girlfriends... or even if you go in alone, you will be surprise how much an hour long class of any kind of dance training will get your heart rate pumping... best of all it will be a nice way to appreciate the local music culture there while vybing with a bit of that trini spice...lol
PrimaD says:
March 12, 2009, 10:06 pm
Hoola hooping sounds fun but does it really make you looks weight? I guess it would be fun to do it to some good music. I also find skipping is quite fun too if you have the space. Generally I hate excercising, its like the worst thing to me. I hate the feeling of my heart pumping soo quickly and being out of breath. I do find walking helps me keep weight off, especially if you do 45 minutes a day up steep hills- and its free!
Staci says:
March 12, 2009, 10:33 pm
I am trying to get into shape too. And I will be the first to say going to the gym is not for me. So I have been relying on workout DVDs, and thanks for in info about Zumba, and hoopnatica. Just wondering is the Wii fit worth it? Oh and have you gone to the Collage Video website. THey have lots of videos and dvds, but I like that they have reviews that you can use. They tell you how long the workout, and break it up by warmup minutes, aero/toning minutes, if it's low impatc ..or advanced Choreography. Granted you probably can find some of the DVDs for less on amazon, wal-mart or target, but I use the site to research the dvd to see if it's even worth buying.
alicia says:
March 13, 2009, 6:37 am
Good luck in building your exercise habit. I have fallen off the wagon myself but Spring is almost here and I tend to motivated by vanity:)
puff says:
March 13, 2009, 8:23 am
i'm trying to work on my fitness too, but i'm not much of a gym bunny - i get bored after five minutes on an elliptical which means i don't benefit as much from the exercise, which is why i prefer taking some kind of class. i'm taking a judo class at the moment, and i love it!! not only do i get a great workout, it's fun cos i have a great teacher and cool classmates, plus i get to use my brain AND learn how to defend myself. basically, it's amazing. i'm going to start combining it with some gym time though, including weight training. i think the key may be finding a gym buddy to motivate me and keep me going. good luck with your exercise goal bella!
LBell says:
March 13, 2009, 9:07 am
You know how in the napptural world we talk about mental transitions? Yep. :) I had to come to the realization that I could no longer live the kind of life I want to live and NOT incorporate both a healthy diet AND regular vigorous exercise. Truthfully the days when I could get away with not eating healthy and not exercising ended in my 20s but now that I'm in my 40s they're REALLY over, lol. And here's something else to think about: If you start now, by the time you get to be my age exercise will be as much of a habit to you as brushing your teeth. That's how it is for my dad: He's had weight issues his whole life but once we gave him a gym membership for his 50th birthday his whole attitude changed. That was almost 20 years ago and now he works out almost every day and is in great shape for a man his age. He's my inspiration! I co-sign Maria at top: While you're looking for fun exercise, just start walking around! Chicago's a great walking town. I used to walk for blocks and blocks just checking stuff out! It's great for biking too although I'd definitely recommend a helmet. You CAN do this!
Red Chic Boutique says:
March 13, 2009, 9:41 am
i use a "weighted" hula hoop to help lose weight and strengthen my core. does it work, heck yeah. my hula hoop weighs 4lbs (it's filled w/water) and i get my workout on. i love to hula to belly dance music. i'm well on my way to my coke bottle shape. try it for 10 minutes each day and you'll feel the difference. i hula for around 25-30 minutes a day. i would suggest a 2lb hoop for newbies since heavier hoops can bruise you a little. good luck!
Kindred Smile says:
March 13, 2009, 10:24 am
Chicago is a great city for fitness. In the warmer months, one of my favorite activities is Summer Dance - it starts with a free hour of dance lessons, then once they've given you a chance to cool down, you get two hours of live dance music. You get to meet people from all walks of life while burning tons of calories. Good times!
Bee says:
March 13, 2009, 10:27 am
Hey Bella! Great post...you gave me some new fitness ideas for when the good weather hits up here in Toronto. I have a Wii, and instead of using the Wii Fit, I bought a Wii program called My Fitness Coach...it's a personal trainer named Maya who gives you fitness assessments and leads you through scheduled workouts...it's really amazing and made such a difference for me through the winter - I even cancelled my gym membership with no regrets! You should check it out - you don't need any additional Wii equipment, and can add your own fitness equipment (free weights, exercise ball, etc.) to the mix if you have them...
Kath says:
March 13, 2009, 12:20 pm
Bella, cardio is great, but I've gotten the best results by incorporating strength training as well. I've really enjoyed the workouts in Self Magazine--a lot of them you can do in 15-25 minutes, and just twice a week helps really tone things up. It will supercharge whatever other exercise you end up doing. And Chicago is a fantastic biking city! There's the path along the lakeshore, which is fantastic in the summer, and the city is pretty flat, so you can really use your bike to get around (hit the summer street fairs, check out new neighborhoods, etc). Good luck!
Kath says:
March 13, 2009, 12:54 pm
Bella, cardio is great, but I've gotten the best results by incorporating strength training as well. I've really enjoyed the workouts in Self Magazine--a lot of them you can do in 15-25 minutes, and just twice a week helps really tone things up. It will supercharge whatever other exercise you end up doing. And Chicago is a fantastic biking city! There's the path along the lakeshore, which is fantastic in the summer, and the city is pretty flat, so you can really use your bike to get around (hit the summer street fairs, check out new neighborhoods, etc). Good luck! Should add excellent post. Can't wait to seeing your next one!
Michelle says:
March 13, 2009, 1:20 pm
omg, i NEED those hula girls' outfits!! jk. i HATE working out, but what really helps me is listening to merengue or brazilian carnival music while im on the elliptical. when i combine these, i can get into the fast paced beat of the music and get a good workout since i feel more like im dancing than working out, so its more fun.
Zavi says:
March 13, 2009, 4:53 pm
I LOVE HOOPING ,You can make yourself a hula hoop there are directions available on several websites.
Whitney! says:
March 16, 2009, 12:09 pm
I will always be a pusher of YOGA! I think that combined with a cardio workout, it can be the best way to shape your body. A lot of people forget about toning and stretching, which of course yoga does both. It also has a lot of different types for different people, Hatha, Pilaties, Ashtanga, Bikram...I personally prefer Ashtanga. Windsor pilates dvds are a great way to do yoga at home. Not to mention the mental benefits of yoga, clearing your head can be the best medicine.
Seattle Slim says:
March 16, 2009, 5:31 pm
I am perfecting this weight loss journey for the second time. Alas the touch of baby weight that I have is harder than the first one, so I've been reading up. I would suggest going to Sparkpeople.com and getting an account. It has helped millions and it's free. You have a nutrition tracker (which made my scale budge. I was eating well but too much so I wasn't creating a deficit) and a fitness tracker. They have more at home workouts than gym workouts and it's a great site with friendship (nappy divas member here) and more. Bella, if you need more info just email me. It's a great site. Bodybuilding.com has tons of ideas. For working out at home Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred is popular, easy and effective. Or just dancing like your life depended on it for an hour, with only water breaks. Tae bo was helpful and Shape mag has great videos. Resistance bands are good. Nutrition is a big part of motivation for the gym. You def want a preworkout and postworkout protein shake with carbs. And whatever you do, strength training. Best regards!
TerriB says:
March 18, 2009, 10:22 am
Spending an hour or more with The New York City Ballet Workout on DVD is the best easing-into-exercise routine I've found. It is deceptively simple, but IT WORKS and you can increase difficulty as you go. Chicago is a great biking city (I lived there for 12 years), and it's close to the Indiana Dunes as well. An hour train from downtown or a short drive can get you there, and hiking up the sand dunes really works the legs (you can run down when done and dunk in Lake Michigan too).
Nikki says:
March 24, 2009, 5:20 pm
Here's a great basketball workout I found on exercisetv. It's Laker approved...enjoy! http://www.exercisetv.tv/watchvideo.aspx?id=600564940
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