Not So Fabulous

I mentioned something a few posts back about an app that I’d picked up called “Fabulous.” I’ve got a little more experience with it and can give you a bit more insight into how it works.

I found out that it’s actually called “The Fabulous,” despite everything on the Google Play Store calling it just “Fabulous.” So there’s that.

The first habit that they want you to establish is drinking a glass of water immediately upon waking. That was was easy. They gave me three days to establish that on its own.

On the third day, they added eating a healthy breakfast. My breakfasts tend to be either an egg, cereal, or oatmeal, along with a few strips of bacon, so I quasi-qualified there. (They prefer for you to eat an egg with fruit, and give you an action item to get to the store and buy eggs and fruit, something that we haven’t yet done.) They then give you three days of drinking water and eating breakfast as your morning ritual.

On day five, they fold in a new part of your routine, a seven-minute morning workout.

Now, keep in mind that I haven’t exercised but once since I started into my depressive cycle back in February. So I figured I’d give it a shot and see what happens. They even have a handy seven-minute program for you to follow. So I gave that a shot.

I have never been more wrong in my life.

The seven-minute workout gives you ten seconds to prepare for the workout, and then thirty seconds for the actual exercise, then ten seconds to rest before moving on to the next exercise. This seems easy enough, until you realize there are thirteen separate exercises that the program runs you through, and you don’t know what they are until the timer starts, so you spend the first few seconds of the exercise time getting into position for the exercise itself. It would be much easier if the ten seconds of breathing time gave you a preview of what was coming next.

Exercise one was jumping jacks. Easy enough, excepting that I’m on the second floor and I’m sure the downstairs neighbors weren’t appreciative of the round guy upstairs spending thirty seconds jumping up and down. The cat was also fairly terrified of this very strange thing that I was doing.

Next up was wall sitting. This is where you put yourself into a position like you’re sitting down, only you’re doing it against a wall with your arms crossed so your legs pushing against the wall are the only thing keeping you from falling down. Not so bad, I have strong legs. This was probably the easiest thing that I did.

The third exercise was push ups. Here was where I had to start making some compromises. I used my knees, not my legs as my anchor point and did the best I could. I was not happy with myself that I couldn’t do this simple exercise anymore.

Fourth is abdominal crunches – lying on the floor, arms outstretched, knees bent, crunch your upper body up as high as you can. Given the shape I’m in, this one was surprisingly easy, but then again, I’ve always had a fairly strong core underneath all this extra weight I’m carrying around.

The intervening ten seconds between exercises turned into a minute and a half. I needed water, I REALLY needed longer than ten seconds to breathe. I was starting to look and feel a mess.

The next exercise was stepping up onto a chair. One leg up, next leg up, first leg down, next leg down, repeat. Keeping my balance was the hard part on this one, but I managed to get it done. I also managed to traumatize the cat again, so this exercise routine has collateral damage, I discovered. Good to know.

After that came squats. Well, squat. I think they wanted me to hold it for thirty seconds. I kept standing and squatting. The pictures weren’t very clear and there’s no explanation other than two pictures that supposedly give you the gist of what you’re doing. I felt confused in addition to exhausted.

The next ten second break lasted two minutes. More water, then a quick dive into the next exercise long enough to figure out what the hell it meant.

That exercise was called “triceps dip on chair.” The goal here was to put my hands on the seat of the chair, use my arms to hold myself up with my legs outstretched, and then bend my arms to where my triceps were what were holding me up. Again, the picture wasn’t very clear. They may have wanted me to continue to bend and extend my arms through this exercise. They got me holding it for as long as I could, and by the time the thirty seconds were up my arms felt like Jello. The monotone female voice that accompanied this program wanted to helpfully let me know that I was “halfway there.” I felt “halfway dead.”

On to exercise eight. Planking. I managed to hold this for the whole thirty seconds. I felt proud of myself for being able to do this. My arms felt more like Jello than ever.

This ten second break between exercises lasted three minutes. I was quickly getting to the end of my very out-of-shape rope.

The next exercise was “high knees running in place.” Thankfully self explanatory – just run in place, lifting your knees high. I thought back to the jumping jacks and decided that I was going to have to modify this to protect my neighbors downstairs, so I would lift one leg high, lower it, then lift the other. I always had at least one foot on the ground. Not sure I could have done this one the way they wanted me to anyway.

Following this was lunges. I did the best I could but I was slow and didn’t actually get many lunges in my thirty second time period.

There was an extended break after this one to catch my breath and try to figure out just what the hell exercise eleven was all about. They called it “push-up and rotation.”

I got past my ten second timer and paused the workout just as the picture came up. The goal was to do a push up, but upon raising my body, I was to lift one arm and rotate my body to the point that I was raising my arm over my body. I thought about it for a couple minutes and then made my decision.

Not just no, but hell no. I didn’t even attempt this one.

The penultimate exercise was right side plank. This is where I propped myself up on my right forearm, and extended my body straight so that I was only touching the floor with my arm and my feet. I could barely get my hip off the floor, and even then not for the full thirty seconds.

Last break. I was pretty much Jello all over at this point.

The final exercise was repeating the side plank on the left arm. My shoulder made that one impossible after about ten seconds.

I finished their suggested workout and collapsed in a heap on the couch. The Jello feeling in my arms and legs eventually passed some twenty minutes later.

During this twenty minutes, I started evaluating how well this app would fit into my life. See, the morning ritual is timed. You have one minute to drink your water, then fifteen minutes to prepare and eat your breakfast, then seven minutes to exercise. Ideally, this routine runs nonstop, but you can pause it as you need to.

The habit that they’re trying to get me to form early in the morning was proving to take up the better part of my morning, between all the other stuff that I have to do already. It proved to be more disruptive to the things that I have to do otherwise. Besides, I have exercise at the end of my day, and that routine – my checklist – has been carefully curated over more than a year’s experimentation to progress in the most effective way it can for my life. This app is throwing a monkey wrench into my day, and I can already tell it’s going to get worse. Once I’ve finished establishing a morning routine, there’s an afternoon and evening routine to establish too.

So I’ve made the decision to delete the app from my phone. It might work with someone else, but I don’t think it’s for me.

But hey, at least I get to cross off exercise for the day.

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