Let’s Get Physical

24 Jan

(I almost titled this post “Total Elliptical of the Heart,” but I refrained.) (You’re welcome.)

Right before Anthony left we invested in an elliptical machine. I’m very excited about it and even managed to start working out on it before getting sick. I have thought long and hard before adding an exercise machine to the house.

First of all, I’m a fan of the “less is more” philosophy. I’m not exactly a minimalist (I do enjoy ornamentation) but as far as stuff and clutter is concerned, I’d rather do without. I prefer to keep things pared down to the essential, the used, the necessary. Clutter makes me feel claustrophobic, suffocated almost, as if I can’t think in a room populated by junk.

And everyone’s seen those sad, dilapidated treadmills at garage sales. They’ve overstayed their welcome and their usefulness, but their owner felt too guilty to get rid of something so expensive, and probably, felt even worse about not using it. So it sat in the garage or a spare room somewhere, collecting dust, serving as a napping spot for cats, and generally becoming more and more obsolete as time marched on till it found itself on the lawn with the price tag of $20. I didn’t want that to be my story. I’ve seen it often enough.

But perhaps the real reason is I felt that getting an elliptical would be like giving up. Why on earth should I purchase such a large, expensive machine when I can just walk? It’s the sustainable solution, right? Well, self, let me tell you why: You are not going to walk outside on days when it’s so cold or so hot you wouldn’t put your baby in a stroller to come with you. I have forced myself out of the house in the cold and in the heat, but I am not going to do that to a baby.

And now, the benefits:

  • The elliptical is way easier on my joints. Since I have Crohn’s related Arthur-itis, this makes a huge difference. Walking and standing can be grueling activities for my body. There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to opt out of going to the grocery store because I just couldn’t handle the standing.
  • We were able to squeeze the machine into my bedroom, so “too cold” and “too hot” are not viable excuses.
  • I can get my heart rate going at a higher rate for longer than with any other activity. (I’m not physically able to do aerobics or sports—out of the question.) Everything I’ve read on the subject suggests that cardio is necessary for long-term health.
  • I’m moving my arms as well as my legs, so I can get a full-body workout. I’m too embarrassed to do that while walking. Let’s be honest, here.
  • It’s cardio as well as strength-training.
  • It’s fun. Kind of. I mean, comparatively.
  • I like the fact that for the most part, it’s a mindless activity. I mean, I did weights for a long time, but then I’m constantly focused on form, and reps, and exercise. BORING. I can hop on this machine, set different levels of resistance and incline, and go to it. I like that my body works while my mind is free to do something else. I realize this reveals something unpleasant about my nature: I AM LAZY. But it’s better to recognize that fact and move on, right? The machine faces a window so I can look outside and daydream while I work out.

I don’t think I will ever be able to read while on the elliptical like some people are able to (how do they do it?), so I’m looking forward to downloading some interesting podcasts and listening to NPR. Do you have any favorite podcasts? I’ve already downloaded the This American Life app, so I have all those already. I’d love to hear your favorites and suggestions.

32 Responses to “Let’s Get Physical”

  1. helgagrace January 24, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Check out this AV Club article on the best podcasts of 2010:


    I also like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and my coworker is a big fan of Radiolab.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      That link is PERFECT. Thank you.

      Anthony and I are huge Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me nerds.

  2. Sunday January 24, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    There was a well-known blogger a while back – of course I forget who – who lost a lot of weight by starting a TV show (I want to say Gilmore Girls?) that she was only allowed to watch while using the elliptical. And I thought, that is probably the ONLY way someone could get me to exercise regularly. Not Gilmore Girls, but maybe Buffy re-runs.

    Do you mind sharing what elliptical machine you got?

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      Oh, you’re right! I think it was Megan of Not Martha.

      And duh. I totally meant to share the machine info. I’ll add that after lunch.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Library was busier than originally scheduled. I’ll add the info tomorrow!

    • LittleBig January 25, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Okay, so I made it into a whole new post because along with the elliptical info I felt it necessary to tell you about my cat food-buying habits.

  3. Monica January 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I’m a huuuge fan of Driveway Moments and Story Corps from NPR.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

      I love Driveway Moments! I don’t think I could work out to Story Corps, though, on account of the weeping.

  4. Elizabeth January 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    My friend’s baby loved to ride in the Bjorn while she was on the elliptical at home. Multitasking!

    Also I love On the Media, Radiolab, This American Life, and the Diane Rehm Show. Shane likes Diane Rehm, but not enough to listen to most shows, so he found a feed of just the Friday News Roundup.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      If I am ever strong enough to bjorn the (next) baby while I work out, I’ll definitely try it. I’m kind of a wimp, though.

      I have the This American Life app, I but I’ll check the others out.

  5. Kerry January 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    I like The Moth. And Savage Lovecast makes all boring things bearable.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      Everyone likes The Moth. I must look into this Moth person.

  6. Anna January 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    I had to chime in! I listen to podcasts working out and my list keeps growing but…

    Wait wait for sure!
    Radiolab is AMAZING
    I also really like To The Best Of Our Knowledge by PRI
    Hard Core History
    and I am a science nerd so I also have Science and Nature
    Oh “The Moth podcast” are “stories told live without notes” and is another really good one

    Hope that helps! Enjoy!

  7. Dan January 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I’m interested in knowing what model you got. We bought a $200 elliptical on Black Friday a while back and HATED it. It had resistance, but not in the ‘makes it harder on you’ way… more in the ‘this sucks and isn’t fun’ way. I don’t really know how to describe it. So we never used it and eventually gave it to my sister in law, who I believe immediately put it to a stricter regimen of disuse.

    We’ve been looking into a new exercise machine recently and I’d love an elliptical but after our last experience I’d really only want to buy a Precor, which is a few thousand dollars. So we’re not buying an elliptical. Unless! If yours is really awesome and you give it a thumbs up I might consider getting it instead, but keep in mind that if we don’t like it I’ll hate you forever.

    As far as podcasts go, I assume you aren’t into video games so I can’t suggest The Giant Bombcast, but I think you might be the sort of person to enjoy Tweet Me Harder. The more recent ones haven’t been as good I’d say, but their ‘new listener?’ list on the sidebar has some good ones.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      I am headbutting you right now. Although we have much less time to devote to video games these days, the husband and I were once serious gamers. I will totally look into that.

      I like ours. I’m going to get into that in more detail tomorrow.

  8. Cookbook January 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Splendid Table!

    • Anonymous Viking January 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      Jawbone Radio! It’s the podcast I’d listen to if I could remember to set aside time to listen to a podcast.


      • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

        The Anonymous Viking strikes again! I’ll look into it.

  9. Windsor Grace January 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    I wish I could afford one, but it’d probably end up like my Wii fit. Sad and alone.

    • LittleBig January 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

      We got ours on credit. Thanks, Costco.

    • April January 25, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      Both my roommate and I have wii fit and so we just sat them next to each other to keep each other company. Occasionally the cats sleep on them. If your wii fit wants to come hang out with our wii fits we could probably work out a un-play-date.

      • LittleBig January 25, 2011 at 10:26 am #

        Aw, that’s cute!

  10. Anne January 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    I totally hear you on the less-is-more thing. I bought a treadmill some years ago on Craigslist and found that I didn’t really use it (it was a fave napping spot for our dog Logan – haha). Ended up selling it on Craigslist for the same amount I paid, so that’s that, I guess. I haven’t tried an elliptical, though. Hmm.

    Anyway, my fave podcasts are: NPR Culturetopia Happy Hour (HI-larious! I mean, literally, I laugh out loud and feel like I know these people), Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Talk of the Nation, the Splendid Table, and This American Life. I am an NPR Junkie! I just heard that John Hodgman has a podcast, so I just subscribed but I haven’t listened to one yet. Good luck and enjoy your listening!

    • LittleBig January 25, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      Little Known Secret: I am terrified of treadmills.

  11. laura January 24, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    glad to hear you’ve joined the cult of the elliptical! these listening suggestions are great — i can’t listen to podcasts while i work out, but i do play them on my commute. i live off my NPR playlist; i didn’t know This American Life has its own app.

    for workouts, i listen exclusively to Pandora’s Dance Pop station. nothing can keep up my heart rate like some C+C Music Factory.

    • LittleBig January 25, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Without NPR I don’t think I could function in the mornings.

  12. Marie January 26, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    Welcome to the club! Well, I have a treadmill, but still. I am a huge BBC world fan, which is somewhat equivalent to NPR. I tried to find NPR after Stateside friends telling me about all the wonderful stuff but, no, they do not broadcast outside the US. Boo! So BBC World wins. And I also take out books on cd from the library and then load them onto my iPod. I’ve listened to things that I’ve wanted to read but had no time to sit down and do it. It makes me walk for just one. more. chapter.

    • LittleBig January 26, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      You know what? In the afternoons before they play the regular news broadcast, NPR actually plays BBC World! So I hear it all the time. Small world, sometimes.

      Audiobooks are a fantastic idea.


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