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The Broken Plumbing Workout Program - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
The Broken Plumbing Workout Program
I have discovered the holy grail of physical fitness, an exercise regime that is simple and guaranteed to work. Step 1: Join a gym with nice shower facilities. Step 2: Pour concrete down the drain in your shower at home. It’s just that easy.

As I think I mentioned a few posts ago, we’ve been having plumbing issues. Our shower has gone from draining a bit slowly to draining really slowly, to not really draining at all. It is now draining again, but who knows for how long? Anyway, one major side effect of all this is that the worse the plumbing got, the more often I went to the gym, so that now I am going every single day because I don’t dare shower at home. At the gym I do my world’s lamest workout before my shower. I just can’t bring myself to get dressed and drive two miles to the gym for the sole purpose of taking a shower. It just seems like too much of a waste of time to skip the workout. Also, I’m not ready to admit to the people at the gym that I am unmoved by their state of the art fitness stuff and that I only love the place for it’s continuous supply of hot water and miraculously clear drains. I have to get myself on the treadmill and do the world’s lamest workout for form’s sake.

In the process of all this I have discovered something remarkable about the world’s lamest workout: it’s effective. It’s actually a little shocking just how effective it is. Remember a week and a half ago when I was whining about how bad I felt? Well, I feel a lot better now, in spite of having done something terribly foolish to my pelvis. The difference is that I have gone and done the world’s lamest workout every single day instead of just half the days. It makes a huge difference.

Perhaps I should save the details and publish some fitness book and try to pass myself off as the next fitness guru, but I don’t think I could do the book tour with a straight face, so I’ll just divulge the details now. The World’s Lamest Workout ™ is to program the treadmill for 20 minutes at 3.0 miles per hour with no incline. That’s it, a 20 minute mile, plus a bit of extra walking at a slower pace at the end because the treadmill automatically adds on a bit of cooldown. For reference, my pre-IVF workout involved 30 minutes at 4.5 miles per hour on a medium to hard hill program. (Walking up an incline is noticeably harder than walking at the same speed on a level surface, so the hill program makes a huge difference.) Probably the best way to measure the difference between the lame workout and the old workout is that the lame workout burns about one sixth of the calories that the old workout did in spite of me getting credit for the extra weight I’m carrying. So yes, it is very, very lame as a workout and yet it is obviously hugely better than just doing the walking I do as part of my everyday life.

Obviously I am going to have to take some time off from the gym immediately post-partum, but this whole thing has changed my thoughts about how much time I think I might want that to be. I think the limiting factor might be how soon I think I can trust Warren with sole custody of a newborn; the gym nursery won’t take infants under six weeks of age. Obviously I’ll need to do something more aggressive post partum to lose the extra pounds and get back into shape. I know that I’ll have to work for a while to get back up to the old workout. At the same time, the past couple of weeks has changed my mind about how much of a workout it is worth going to the gym for. Six months ago I would never have bothered to go to the gym if all I thought I was capable of was a 20 minute mile. If I was too tired/headachey/crampy to attempt anything more than the World’s Lamest Workout, I probably would not have bothered to go. Now I know that a really lame workout is quantifiably better than no workout at all. It might not actually change my behavior in the long term, especially when I have a small child to manage, but it does remove a potential rationalization for being lazy.
11 comments or Leave a comment
enugent From: enugent Date: June 12th, 2008 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Can you just walk outside with the baby in a sling? You don't get the bonus of a working shower, but surely you can find a hill somewhere, and you can do that way before six weeks. One of the benefits of carrying the baby on workouts is that it provides an automatic graduated intensity as the baby gets bigger.
izmirian From: izmirian Date: June 12th, 2008 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a pretty funny workout plan, though I'm sorry your plumbing is acting up. We had draining problems periodically, though ours were fixed by replacing the sewer line last year.
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: June 12th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I know this is totally beside the point, but if you figure out a way to fix your shower let me know?

Alternately, if you publish the book I could be your first disciple. My shower's broken too and I just joined Healthworks.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 12th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, if you want to miss this once in a lifetime chance of the perfect workout formula, a combination of boiling water, foaming liquid plumber and snaking seems to have worked for now.
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: June 12th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
All at once?!? That sounds perilous!
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 13th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Not all at once. And there wasn't much snaking because we were mostly thwarted by our tub design. Mostly there was just a lot of heating up pots of boiling water and chucking them down the drain and then hoping that they'd drained by the time the next pot of boiling water was ready.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: June 13th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The boiling water kind of kept things limping along for a bit, along with detergent, but it didn't quite keep up.

What finally worked was liquid plumbr gel poured through a small amount of standing water, plus me taking a day off work to watch it and to make sure the drain got flushed immediately after the chemicals broke through. Previous liquid plumbr treatments (foaming and gel) had broken through and drained out overnight, but most of the deposits stayed in the drain and resolidified so that the drain was still slow and got blocked again quickly.

I basically checked on it every 20-30 minutes, removed little bits of the stuff that was floating out of the drain with a metal tool, and tried poking around as best I could with the snake. It finally broke through after about 12 hours when I was kind of trying to poke around with the snake and working the valve. I immediately turned on the hot water at full for about 15 minutes to flush out all the stuff that had been loosened so it wouldn't just cement together again - it now drains faster than the shower can run and almost as fast as the faucet can run.

Hopefully we won't have to do that again for a few years.
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: June 13th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the tip! I've noticed that slight improvement followed by as bad as it's always been -- next time I see the improvement I'll try the boiling water trick.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 12th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Call a plumber about that drain seriously and get it snaked. If you don't want to do that try umm Drano, liquid plummer. If you don't like all of those nasty industrial chemicals go with Alka Seltzer (baking soda).
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 24th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Interesting post!

well done, brother
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 28th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

well done

well done, bro
11 comments or Leave a comment