But then it’s now or never—if I don’t push myself into sitting position right this second, sleep will claw me back into its clutches. So I heave myself up, rub sleep from my eyes, have a nice long stretch, and plod to my little kitchen to make my chocolate milk drink and cereal.
The magic happens in the five minutes after I awake. As I’m washing my face, I’m amazed that I did have the willpower to peel myself off the bed. Then I remember another reason to wake up: it’s been more than two days since I worked out (yes, I have slacker moments).
Two days, or 48 hours, is the maximum number of hours you should wait between workouts. Any longer, and the body starts storing any calories you have (from past or recent meals) as fat. Researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia did a study on lab rats and found that fat cells increased in size by 205 percent after 48 hours of missing their workouts.
OK. Don’t hit the panic button just yet. If it grows to that size in rats, it doesn’t mean that happens in humans too. But the study concludes that anytime you slack off for more than 48 hours, you will gain fat.
Why do we slack off? “No time” is the number one reason. But you really have to put it in perspective. Losing weight and working out are goals you set in the same way you tell yourself, “I want to get a raise,” or “I want a loving relationship.” How much do you want to attain that goal? What kind of commitment are you going to give to it?
In this month’s issue of Women’s Health, we talk about time and exercise—how even 10 minutes of exercise each day can lead to a lifetime of health benefits. Ten minutes will not make you lose one pound, of course, but even that much helps you build a strong core and the balance with which you can pursue longer exercise routines when you do have the time.
On the days I really cannot make it to my workout, I do routines at home: seven sets of the exercises we featured in the very first issue of Women’s Health back in April 2009; a one-pager called “Lean and Fit in 7 Minutes.” Sometimes I do three of the exercises; sometimes all. But even if it’s just two sets that take 14 minutes in total, I do break out into a sweat and I get my happy hormones going. And all is right with the world.
So do yourself a favor. Ditch the excuses you make to yourself. A good start would be to pick up this month’s issue of WH and turn to page 97 for some exercises you can do in 10 minutes or 60 minutes. Take your pick. Make the time and make it happen.
—Lara Parpan is the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health. The August issue is out on newsstands right now.