Former couch potatoes... how long did it take you to make your lifestyle permanently active?

toxikon Posts: 2,384 Member
edited February 2018 in Fitness and Exercise
Just a question I'm curious about. I'm a total couch-potato, I love watching movies, drawing, reading, crafting, playing games... not really physically active hobbies. The only active thing I actually seem to enjoy is going on walks with my audiobook.

Over the years I've started and stopped many different programs (lifting, running, biking...), never really getting into a good groove for more than a few months. I've started so many beginner strength programs at the gym I've lost count.

My brain says "Hey, you need to put on some muscle mass if you want to look good and feel great later in life! You'll feel good after your workouts! Endorphins! Just go do it!" then the other side of my brain says "Meh... but Netflix."

So what was the turning point for you, ex-couch potatoes? I know in my brain that I just need to MAKE IT a habit and go to the gym regardless of how ambivalent I feel about it... but I always just seem to slip back into old patterns.


  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
    I've become more of a couch potato as I've gotten older. In general, I just feel more tired and more broken down than I used to... which makes me more apt to "take today off and recover" on a more regular/consistent basis.
  • RickSuk
    RickSuk Posts: 8 Member
    For me it was food tracking that did it. I made the correlation that when I tracked I lost weight. (Largely because it was easier to not eat something if I had to get on the computer and track it.) Once I started loosing weight, bicycling to loose more, then running to loose more, then weights...

    I still watch some tv, but find it easier to get up and lift the weights, knowing that they won't lift themselves and if I don't get up & do it then, I'll loose sleep because I waited to lift them later in the evening.
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    Still sedentary, except for the few hours I'm not.

    Desk job, TV/Computer/Reading for recreation.. but I get 12-20 miles per week thanks to C25K, Pokémon Go, and my step tracker.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
    I've had a Fitbit for more than 2 years now. It motivates me to hit my step goal. It vibrates at 10 to the hour if I haven't taken at least 250 steps in that hour.

    It has been a slow and steady progression from 5000 steps to 8000 steps and I'm hoping to get closer to 10,000 by the end of the year. Part of that is getting out and taking a brisk walk every morning, but there's lots of short bursts throughout the day as well.

    I would love to think it's become a way of life and if I chucked the Fitbit I'd keep it up, but I'm honestly not sure!

    This is separate from my workouts though. For that I get a wall calendar, write in my schedule, and cross them off when I do them. I go through periods where it's easy - I know I will feel awesome after I workout so I just get up and do it. But I'll have other months where I skip a bunch and it's shame at all those uncrossed-off workouts that gets me going for the few I actually do :lol: . So I guess I'm still a work in progress!
  • iWishMyNameWasRebel
    I gotta say once I started lifting weights it became something I knew I would stick with. Even if I stopped for a couple of months for whatever reason, I knew I'd come back. I don't really enjoy any of my workouts while I'm actually doing them, but I really love the surge of power I get when I lift, even if the motion itself isn't fun. The high is. And after a lifetime of being dead last in everything physical, getting called a "star pupil" by my trainer, and being able to actually start to hold correct form with my's a whole new world. I can't see me ever not doing it for long.
  • iWishMyNameWasRebel
    Still sedentary, except for the few hours I'm not.

    Desk job, TV/Computer/Reading for recreation.. but I get 12-20 miles per week thanks to C25K, Pokémon Go, and my step tracker.

    PokemonGo rules!!!
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,868 Member
    edited February 2018
    I do go to the gym a couple times per week to lift but I figured out a long time ago that the gym was not going to work for me in regards to being an every day destination for exercise.

    Most of what I do is as much hobby and recreation as it is exercise. Primarily I the moment I'm not training for anything in particular, so I just go ride...sometimes it's 30 minutes because that's all I have time for...sometimes is 45...rarely over an hour if I'm not training because I have to balance that stuff out with other life obligations.

    My activity level also varies seasonally. I'm just out and about more doing stuff in the nicer months...trips to the zoo, playing with the kids in the park, rock climbing, camping trips with lots of hiking, etc.

    In the winter, it's cold and dark...I'm more likely to be sitting on the couch watching football on a Sunday than I am at the zoo walking around for a few hours. As exercise goes I'm pretty much relegated to my indoor bike trainer because it's dark in the morning and dark in the evening which is when I can ride...I do it, but I'm not nearly as dedicated to it as I am road riding and it's really easy for me to just be like "nah...going to pop a beer instead." I'd wager that from Thanksgiving to the end of January I was on my bike maybe 5-10 times. I'm definitely way less active all around in the winter...both in regards to exercise as well as general moving around

    I typically get things going again about this time of year...New Mexico winters are short, so we're already seeing some nice Spring like 60* days and it's staying light out longer so I can often get in a quicky road ride after work now and it'll be even better when the time changes. I also just purchased an indoor rower for those Spring days where the wind will keep me off the bike so that at least I have an option of rowing or getting on my trainer.

    As far as how long it took...that's a tough question. I was pretty sedentary for 8 years while I was gaining weight. I took to exercise pretty much right away...but maybe that's because prior to those 8 years I was always a very active guy. I was a competitive athlete in multiple sports growing up from about 3rd grade on up through my senior year and in my 20s I was just always out and about doing something or another and didn't own a car most of the time so I biked and walked I guess getting active again was more of a return to my former self than a re-invention of myself.

    I still have plenty of couch potatoness going on, just a lot less of it. This past Sunday at noon I had like all of 1,300 steps taken...

    I also don't recover as easily as I used to, so there's definitely days that I planned to do something or want to do something, but I can't and just need to lay low and chill.

    I'd also say that regular exercise and moving a lot in general has a pretty profound effect on some hereditary health that gives me a good reason to move as well.
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,426 Member
    I got a pedometer a couple of years ago and discovered that I was getting 2,000 steps or less a day. I did a lot of sitting. Like you a lot of my hobbies were sedentary.
    I gradually increased my steps and often get 8,000 or more a day.
    I walk while I read, listen to podcasts or music. I use the computer or tv less. I get outside more.
    I set a timer and walk briskly around my house for 30 minutes.
    I do workout videos off of you tube.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,868 Member
    usmcmp wrote: »
    I'm still a couch potato, I just have a standing appointment with the gym. There are still days where I get to the gym, walk inside, then turn around and leave.

    Lol...I did that last Sunday...actually, I didn't even walk inside...I parked the car and sat there for a minute and just said, "*kitten* it" and went home and spent the rest of the day lounging on the couch and helping my 2nd grader with a school project.

    For whatever reason I was just pretty spent and it was just a no go...
  • MegaMooseEsq
    MegaMooseEsq Posts: 3,118 Member
    edited February 2018
    I think it was a combo of being lucky enough to find things that I liked doing, setting really achievable goals, and getting positive results quickly enough to keep me coming back for more. I like walking, so I set a daily step goal that was only slightly higher than my current numbers, and started walking more frequently and often, usually in ten minute chunks. I'd already started getting up earlier in the AM because I liked having that time alone, so I eventually added another 10-15 minute walk then. Eventually I stopped breaking a sweat on my short walks but liked the feel of doing something physical for even just 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning, so I started running, discovered pretty quickly that I loved how I felt after even a short run, and it kind of snowballed from there.

    But honestly, if I felt like I was suffering the whole time or didn't see any results, I don't think I'd have stuck with anything. And having goals that are really easy to meet helped me a lot, too. Even when I didn't want to get up in the AM, I found it easy enough to convince myself to jog for 15 minutes, especially knowing I'd feel better after and I was going to take a shower either way. I've quit a couple of things as I've gone along (blech at the stationary bike), and changed my routine around, but hopefully I'll always be up for those 10-15 minutes.
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,992 Member
    Growing up I was always super active. Then I got the desk job, and started spending a lot more time on my butt. I've ALWAYS enjoyed reading, art, playing video games, watching TV/movies, but historically was active enough to more than compensate. Desk job axed that.

    I didn't adjust for a number of years, becoming pretty close to a couch potato. I still rode my horses and occasionally did chores at the barn, and riding motorcycles, but I didn't make extra time for more activity to make up for the desk job....

    Enter 2015 when, by the end of the race season, my lack of fitness was an obvious factor holding me back. That's when I got dedicated to changing back to being more active and making the gym a priority.

    I just had to "embrace the suck" through the first few months as my body rebelled, I felt like crap, and I was so out of shape that working out didn't help me feel better. After about 3, consistent, months, however, I found that I was starting to enjoy it. I was enjoying the results, just moving in general, and would miss it on days I skipped. After my (bad) leg break I got out of the routine for the better part of a year, but even so, it was MUCH easier to get back into it (and my fitness returned much faster than I though it would - strength not so much). There are days it still can suck, but racing is my motivation on those days. Being okay with an "easier" workout can help sometimes too.
  • ValeriePlz
    ValeriePlz Posts: 517 Member
    It is hard to remember the point where I stopped dreading workouts and started looking forward to them - you can definitely feel it if you haven't exercised in a few days. You will get there, but be sure to do exercise that you really enjoy, otherwise you will probably always hate it. (Although, I hated running at first and grew to love it.)
  • middlehaitch
    middlehaitch Posts: 8,485 Member
    edited February 2018
    A day, honestly.

    I saw a picture of myself, January 2008, and I looked nothing like I felt inside.
    By the end of the week I was counting calories and had a year pass to the rec centre, and have had one ever since.

    I started by doing aqua fit 3 evenings a week, and walking.

    Since then I have done loads of different classes, learnt to swim, participated in 10 Km races, and had some wonderful active holidays. ( the holidays really do inspire me to try different things. Who wants to sit in a coach and watch people rappelling down waterfall cliffs instead of doing it?)

    I tell myself it is 1 hour out of 24, I can be a couch potato the other 23 if I choose.

    It is wanting to be independent, fit, and healthy as I age that gives me a long term goal. That is hard to keep in the present though.

    Short term, it is all about vanity and being able to do wild and crazy things.

    Believe me, I am Mrs Sloth personified. My muscles were likened to mashed potatoes.

    This, like weight loss, wasn't an easy change, I've gone from loath to dislike with regards to exercise, but it was simple.
    An hour a day.

    Because of my attachment to the couch, I do find I do better exercising outside the house.
    I can also get ready and procrastinate on the couch for a couple of hours before actually going.

    Oh, I was doing that (procrastinating) last Wednesday and it started snowing. I couldn't get out of the cut de sac. A good shovelling of the drive way, and 3 sets of Nerdfitness, was exercise that day. :)

    I try not to think of exercise in isolation, but how it can, and does, improve my quality of life overall.

    Cheers, h.
  • 2baninja
    2baninja Posts: 511 Member
    I'm still pretty much a couch potato, but I made a rule with myself, that if I'm able to got to work, then I'm able to get up an hour earlier and go to the gym, I consider it my 2nd job. So far, it's been working, I've only missed a few unplanned days off.
  • aeloine
    aeloine Posts: 2,163 Member
    About 18 months, I'd say, of actually trying to get into it.

    I'd pick up running a couple of times a week in high school when I felt like I needed to moderate my weight or deal with stress but it was never more than like 30 minutes at a time.

    In college I tried to do C25K.... like three or four times. Never actually finished it. Lifted regularly for maybe three or four months my senior year of college. Then moved for a job and didn't do anything for well over a year. Gained 60 lbs.

    About 18 months ago (Oct 2016) I signed up for the YMCA and went to Zumba like once a week. That lasted for maybe 4 months? In March of 2017 I started counting calories seriously. June/July ish 2017 I did C25k again, got to week 7, fell and tore my meniscus. That was August 2017. Cancelled YMCA. Didn't do anything until October 2017. Signed up for an expensive Lifetime Fitness membership. Turns out that putting my money where my mouth is really motivates me. I'm now up to 5 times/week at the gym. It started with just Monday night Zumba, then added Wednesday night Zumba. Then I started swimming every once in a while. Then I added yoga and weight lifting. Now I go to spin classes three times a week. I like classes a lot for the loud music, the group mentality, and because I don't have to come up with my own routines.

    I had to work really hard to find what I like to do in terms of fitness. I had to work really hard to find the atmosphere I liked. My apartment complex has an awesome gym but without a class schedule to drive my work outs, I would just wait until too late in the day and then not go. The YMCA didn't stay open late enough and the classes were RIGHT after work and I like to go home, make dinner, unwind, then go work out.

    These days, I get antsy if I miss a work out for two days in a row. Which was NEVER the case. EVER.
  • MegaMooseEsq
    MegaMooseEsq Posts: 3,118 Member
    nrtauthor wrote: »
    I read once that a person should adopt hobbies that require physical activity.

    It was broken down like this:

    Have one hobby that demands creativity.
    Have one hobby that demands intellect.
    Have one hobby that demands physical movement.

    When I saw that article I realized all of my hobbies require only creativity and nothing else. So I am taking up walking as a hobby and trying to think of other physical type activities I enjoy doing so I can pick those up too. Not quite sure what that'll be but I'll get there.

    It's okay to be a couch potato... for a few hours a day. Just don't let the couch be your job.

    I really like this idea! Although I’m one of those people who can’t take up a creative or physical hobby without also building an extensive set of spreadsheets/database and reading tons of history and theory and such, so I’ll never have to worry about the intellectual aspect because I turn any hobby into an intellectual one. My spouse is like this as well - he knits, but also collects and catalogues patterns and past and future projects, not to mention forums like this and books and blogs and so on - he easily spends more time with the computer than actually knitting! I’ve definitely becoming that way with fitness.