Vado Porro

Running from the Law: Broke, Broken Down, and Out of Shape

In November, I left my campaign job and started my new life as an Unemployed Soon To Be Lawyer.  Then I was an Unemployed Lawyer.  Then I was an Unemployed Overweight Lawyer.  January hit and I realized I was nowhere in either my job search or with my hoped-for weight loss.  I had to quit the gym, since my nonexistent salary could no longer afford the $50 a month for the local YMCA, and challenged myself to figuring out how to stall the unemployment weight I was gaining, and get myself back in shape without a gym membership.I started with a simple rule to combat my new sedentary lifestyle: every weekday, I would walk a mile.  I figured that in my old life as a law student, I had walked at least mile every day between the bus stop, the buildings, the steps I climbed, and the occasional meeting with a teacher in their clinic office four blocks away.  So when my life went from constant go-go-go to a steady stream of sedentary job hunting,  I lost a lot of my regular activity.  The mile walks restored me to my former levels, but were not part of what I considered "exercise." 

Once I started my daily mile walks, the rest of the process seemed less painful and I fed off my momentum.  I had already left the house to walk a mile, maybe I should walk to the grocery store and stock up on healthy foods.  Or I would walk a mile and then decide to come home and top it off with a workout, either a DVD (my favorite is Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, available on Amazon for only $8), or just a simple weight routine.   It was still cold out, and I can’t run more than three days a week, so I tried to commit to two weekly runs with a friend.  It took awhile to get into the swing of things, and we were pretty happy to see daylight savings time come around, but I’m actually up to running 3 days a week again now. 

The thing that made the biggest difference was when I decided to sign up for Living Social, a website that pulls together deals from the local community.  My husband is on Groupon and often sends me their deals for fitness classes as well.  So far I was very fortunate to snag a deal from Living Social to a local personal training studio that offers group classes.  The cards, which usually cost $100 for 10 classes, were discounted at $25 apiece.  I go to one class a week and it’s been a great way to mix up my workouts and interact with other people.  By going to one class a week (sometimes every other), I’m able to stretch my 10-class card for 10+ weeks, have a set workout on a specific day, and change up my routine enough to keep it interesting.  I also found a great deal through Living Social for a 6 week membership for $20 to a local aquatic center, which includes a fitness center with spinning classes.  Spinning is the thing I miss the most about the gym, and this is well timed to get me in shape for triathlon season (if only I could find a job to pay for my racing habit).  Many local gyms also offer 30-day trials, which are a good way to get a workout if you can stand the sales pitch that they throw at you when you sign up.

I’ve also been surprised to discover that taking up a yoga habit is really affordable.  My town happens to have a few sources of free yoga classes, as well as a local donations-based studio and yoga studios that offer community classes.  These options have kept my yoga expenses at around $10 a week, which is a lot less than the $109 my local studio charges for monthly memberships, or the $16 per class that they charge for non-community classes.

$10 a week, or $20-25 for a groupon still feels like a lot if you’re living off your savings, your spouse, or your parents, but it is definitely worth it if you can swing it at all.  Since I’ve gotten back into my workout habits, I’ve been happier, more pleasant to live with, and more focused on my job search.  I also started valuing myself again, and reminding myself of everything I am capable of accomplishing.  Unemployment can wreak havoc on your self esteem, and exercise can build you up again.  I was actually lucky enough to find a (part-time, temporary) attorney position earlier this month, and I know the reason I got this position was that I finally built up the momentum to make things happen for myself.  

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