I’ve been social distancing since last Wednesday, when I’ve been working from home. I haven’t been doing too bad: I work, chill, stalk people I don’t like on Instagram for an amount of time my therapist considers “unhealthy”, go on a run to get outside for a few minutes—all in all, not that different from my normal routine (on the rare occasions when I decide to lay low and not black out at brunch). However, as of late, going on runs outside has made me more anxious because every single f*cking person in my neighborhood is also out and about. Staying six feet away from a stranger at any given point is impossible. I tried it all: running in the morning. Running at night. Running in the middle of the afternoon. Same problem. So I decided to kick the social distancing up a notch and not leave my apartment, at all. (Also, to be real, I’m just lazy and don’t love running to begin with.) The only problem? Getting enough exercise. I do workout videos, but I like measuring my activity in steps. So on Friday, I attempted to do the impossible: get 10,000 steps without leaving my apartment. Oh, I should mention, I live in New York City (pauses for collective gasp). Conveniently, my roommate and I had just measured our apartment, and it is about 600 square feet. Prognosis: not good.
These are my stories.
9:17am: I begin my day with 251 steps. This is going to be hard.
9:36am: I have to write an article, ya know, do my job. This makes it hard to get up and move in any capacity.
10:20am: Decide to make scrambled eggs on a low heat because they take longer to cook that way. I first walk, then jog back and forth in my kitchen until they are cooked, scrambling occasionally. It works decently well: I’m up to 1,314 steps.
11:11am: Unlike every other day where I’ve been too lazy to get up to get more water once I finish mine, I’m going to the kitchen every 10 minutes. I’ve started making long loops around my apartment for no reason (going to the kitchen, heading all the way back into my room before going back to sit down at my desk). Current step count: 1,605. The goal is to get 1,000 steps per hour for 10 hours #math.
11:25am: I do suicides in my kitchen while waiting for my tea to warm up in the microwave (a minute and a half). Step count: 2,107. I am out of breath. My kitchen is maybe 10 feet long. Don’t judge me.
12:20pm: I am quickly falling behind on my 1,000-steps-per-hour goal. I make more tea (I don’t really want it, but it’s an excuse to move some more). I do suicides in my hallway this time, which is a lot creakier than my kitchen and therefore more likely to piss off my downstairs neighbor, but my hallway is a lot longer than my kitchen. Still not good enough; I’m only at 2,300-ish steps. I run back and forth in the kitchen a few more times. Still not making a huge dent: 2,444.
12:26: I pace around my apartment a bunch more times. 2,535. I need to do something crazy to get up to 3,000. I’ve taken a poll on my Instagram story on whether or not walking in place counts; most people think it does. Still, that feels kind of like cheating to me, so I’ll save it for a last resort.
1:10pm: I’ve tried to make as many unnecessary laps around my apartment as I can, but I’m still only at 2,874. Need to magically figure out a way to get 1,000 more steps in in the next 20 minutes so I can stay on track. Oh yeah, and do my job. That.
1:14pm: The downside of drinking so much water (to get more steps to the kitchen) is I’m peeing constantly. On the upside, this bitch will be hydrated af.
2:21pm: 3,231 steps. Gonna have to take drastic measures.
2:50pm: 3,371, but to be fair, I’ve been like, actually sitting at my desk doing work for a while.
3:01pm: Decide to call my internet company to ask them a question. (This will later prove to be a grave error.) But while I’m on hold with Spectrum, it is a good time to start pacing again. Downstairs neighbor must think I’m going through it.
3:10pm: Still on hold. Graduated from pacing to kitchen suicides. Step count: 4,143.
3:20pm: I give up on Spectrum. Nothing is that important.
3:30pm: I get an email that the fitness mat I had ordered a couple days ago says it’s arrived. Time to put on sneakers and go downstairs the three flights to check—not touching any banisters.
3:34pm: I consider running up and down my steps a few times, but ultimately, laziness wins out. 4,315.
5:12pm: Currently at 4,819 which is almost half (for those of you who can’t do basic math). The good news is I still haven’t done my workout video yet, which should bring me very close to my goal. The bad news is that I have zero desire to move my body at all. Maybe after a snack the motivation will suddenly appear.
5:13pm: A King’s Hawaiian sweet roll and peanut butter is a healthy snack, right?
5:55pm: Workout time. I’m debating between a 305 Fitness video (which they put up on Youtube after the daily live streams), which I know will get me to the goal, vs. Sweat440, which is my personal favorite and more HIIT/toning than straight cardio like 305. I low-key hate cardio. Plus, I can’t booty pop or body roll, which makes up a significant part of 305’s repertoire. What I’m saying, is, I can’t dance!! Double plus, my downstairs neighbor is… shall we say… vocal… and all the jumping with 305 seems like a bad idea. I choose Sweat440.
6:35pm: I finish the workout, dripping in sweat—the studio lives up to its name, that’s for sure. I check my step counter: 6,069. Welp. All that, and only like, 1,000 extra steps. I am basically giving up at this point.
10:18pm: Finishing a Netflix documentary before bed (it’s true crime, why do I do this to myself) so I’m going to walk around my living room, but hitting the goal is not looking likely. Current count: 8,255. If I can get to 9,000 I’ll feel accomplished. But now I have something to prove, so maybe I’ll resort to walking in place.
10:27pm: No. I won’t go down without a fight. Back to the kitchen it is, where I can put my laptop on the island and walk back and forth with minimal creaking.
While it is possible to get 10,000 steps without stepping foot outside, it is not exactly easy and I had to get creative (read: a little loose with my definition of “walking”). It’s not a bad alternative if conditions worsen and you really cannot go outside, but I would only do it again if I like, was once again motivated by the idea of doing something seemingly impossible. Otherwise, I’d just go about my normal indoor routine and disregard my step count. Or just go on a walk or jog outside as long as officials say that’s safe. Stay safe, everybody!
Images: George Rudy / Shutterstock.com; Sara Levine (2); Giphy (2)
Let’s be real—when it comes to fitness, there’s a lot of bullshit out there. How many days a week should I work out? Is the whole 10,000 steps goal bullshit, and where does that number even come from? There’s a lot of conflicting information to sift through, and it’s overwhelming enough to make you want to say “fuck it” and reach for some ice cream. That’s why, instead of spending hours on Google, we talked to Brooke Alpert, Registered Dietician and author of The Diet Detox: Why Your Diet Is Making You Fat And What To Do About It, to help us figure out what’s the truth about fitness and what’s bullshit. In addition to being a Registered Dietician, Brooke also got her MS from NYU, so safe to say she knows her shit.
What are the most common fitness myths you see people falling for?
- Exercise is the most important part of losing weight. Exercise is great for your health—but it’s your diet that takes the weight off. Exercise helps you keep the weight off and shape your body. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
- You should always work out first thing in the morning. Don’t fit yourself into your workouts—make them fit you! Exercise when you’re most likely to do it most often. Not a morning person? Then don’t exercise in the morning. Just be sure to put it in your schedule so you don’t skip out on it later in the day.
- Weights are only for guys! (Also see: Strength training will make me bulky!) Your workout can’t be all cardio—women need to strength train too! Strength training is a healthy way to burn fat, build muscle, and improve overall health. The elliptical alone won’t get you those summer abs you’ve been searching for!
- Spot reduction! It doesn’t work—weight loss and toning is a combo of good diet, strength training, and cardio to drop weight all over.
- Load up on protein after a workout! This is sort of true and sort of false—it’s all about how you interpret it. The problem with this “myth” is that most people overdo it on the protein and just end up taking in extra calories for no reason. What’s the point in doing the workout if you’re just going to eat a might-as-well-be-ice-cream protein shake when you’re finished? Make sure to avoid those calorie-packed bars promising 50g+ protein, too. Your body can only absorb 25-35 g protein at a given time—anything more won’t go to muscle repair, as post-workout protein is intended, but will instead be wasted by the body.
If I only have 20 minutes to work out, what’s the best way to maximize my time?
There’s no reason a workout has to be an hour long! HIIT, or high intensity interval training, definitely gives you the most bang for your buck, and I recommend it to all of my clients. This type of training involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times. HIIT speeds up your metabolism and keeps it boosted for up to 48 hours—pretty good for 20 minutes! Since you’re speeding up and slowing down at different intervals, your body can never adjust or get too comfortable. The bursts of energy kick your body into gear!
HIIT helps with fat loss, muscle gain, blood sugar levels, aerobic health, and athletic performance—and it makes working out even easier to fit into your schedule. Plus it keeps things more interesting, so you’re less likely to get bored while working out. Additionally, HIIT raises your resting metabolic rate and the afterburn effect means your body is still working long after you leave the gym. Best of all, it can be kept strictly to cardio (treadmill sprints) or incorporate weights or even just body-weight exercises.
Is 10,000 steps really the ideal number we should be aiming for?
Just moving is what’s most important. If you can hit 10,000 steps that’s even better, but sometimes these numbers can be discouraging for people. Adding extra movement throughout the day, regardless of how many steps you get, is the ultimate goal. Park further away, take the stairs, walk to your coworkers desk instead of emailing.
What’s a common mistake you see people making when working out? What’s the worst mistake you could make?
One common mistake I see is people who think that one or two workouts per week are all they need to accomplish their weight loss goals. Yes, diet is the major part of any weight loss strategy, but you must exercise regularly. Beyond that, make sure it’s the kind of workout that makes you break a sweat, not just coasting on the elliptical! I want you to do a workout that’s high-intensity and efficient, rather than to move moderately for an hour. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of HIIT training.
My other rule is no more than two days off allowed. On non-exercise days, I still require my clients to move—they need to go for a walk, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or even just stretch. This helps them maintain a mind-body connection and create small moments of awareness throughout the day to keep them in tune with their bodies in order to feed them better.
But I really cringe when I see people working out so hard but then eating or drinking some nonsense food, like a smoothie made with frozen yogurt, right after they leave the gym. Don’t ruin your workout when you just killed it in the gym!
What are some of your favorite workouts?
A few years ago while writing my first book, I discovered a boutique gym called the Fhitting Room in New York City. The gym specializes in HIIT workouts and had me instantly hooked, especially once I started seeing such quick results. I love the trainers and their workouts so much, I even incorporated a few into my book, The Diet Detox. The book includes 10 Fhitting Room workouts you can easily integrate into your exercise routine. Some require equipment, some don’t. Some are more difficult, and some are shorter. All of them incorporate my beloved HIIT method, and they’re all guaranteed to make you sweat!
How many days a week should you really work out?
Around 3 days a week is a nice average for my clients. I recommend no more than two days off in a row between workouts, so if you get to the gym on Monday, then you can’t skip Thursday’s workout. I still want everyone moving each day, though!
How important is it to have a rest day? What should you do on a rest day?
While it’s smart to give certain muscles a break from repetitive workouts, I like rest days for the most important muscle, your brain. Taking a break from the gym is important for your mind and for the gym to be less of a punishment and more of a pleasurable experience.