Whether your goal is to lose weight or get in shape for your Disney vacation, or prepare yourself to run in the Walt Disney World Marathon, you need a fitness plan. If you’re a bit unsure of where to start with your Disney World fitness plan, fear not, as you aren’t alone. We originally made this plan in preparation for our first runDisney event, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler (click that link for our review of the race and to read how we did!) at Walt Disney World Resort.
It’s hard to believe that it was over two years ago when we first started to get in shape for our first runDisney event! Now we’re back to it as we have sort of fallen out of shape in the last couple of years. We want to get fit for Disney again and have a new idea about which we are really excited (scroll down to the Fitbit Community Motivation section for that) that we think might help both us and you. If you’ve already read this post before, go right to that section, as the rest of this post consisted of our original ideas…
At first, we had no idea how to get fit for running. We both used to be pretty fit, and I’ve gone running for short distances before, so I have a basic idea, but that’s about it. However, with a little research and after talking to some friends who run and re-listening to podcast episodes devoted to the topic of Disney marathons, we think we’ve developed a pretty good plan of attack that will have us first getting in shape, in general, and then start us training for the race. Not a bad plan for us to get in shape, in general, as I really enjoy water parks, and I don’t want to be too embarrassed to head to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach!
Obviously, there are a myriad of ways to approach fitness, but I’m going to detail ours. I’m not a fitness expert, but the methods described here have worked for me and others (so they’re proven!), so your mileage may vary. I’m not going to weigh this down with countless legal disclaimers, so here’s the important one: don’t be an idiot. If following any of the advice here isn’t reasonable for you for whatever reason (pre-existing health conditions, pregnancy, etc.) don’t follow said advice. We aren’t responsible for your stupid decisions
With that said, let’s get in shape!
Getting in Shape for Disney!
There is no one single “fitness panacea.” Getting in shape requires dedication to exercise and healthy living, not one or the other. You may want to reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and eating foods from 7-11 when attempting to get fit. I know, I know…Slurpees are basically one of the four food groups, but apparently they’re not all that healthy! 😉
Proper diet is an integral element of getting fit or losing weight for a Disney trip. If you plan on going on the Big Mac diet while running a mile per day, you probably won’t see much in the way of positive results.
My aim is primarily to eat healthier and get tone. Because of this, I plan on eating more proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This means a lot of poultry, fish (tuna for lunch, wild salmon at least a couple days per week), oatmeal, avocado, nuts, sweet potatoes, asparagus, quinoa, and chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is not here as a joke–it makes a great post-workout recovery drink! We’ll also eat whatever random healthy foods Sarah finds at the store after consulting her healthy recipe resources. Some of these foods don’t taste that great (quinoa, I’m looking at you!), but if it means getting fit, I’ll get used to them.
If you don’t want to eat foods you find disgusting, you should still improve your diet. We’re big fans of “Eat This, Not That.” Their book: Eat This, Not That! The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution is really helpful as it gives you some autonomy in determining what “level” of dieting you want to utilize. It could be as little as swapping out one type of fast food for another to save calories and saturated fat, or it could be as extreme as buying different items in the grocery store for more substantial health benefits. We consider “Eat This, Not That” to be a healthier guide to living for all seasons. Even if we’re not trying to lose weight, it’s not a bad idea to consult with them before making a decision about what to order when eating out!
There is a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive. This certainly can be true if all you eat now is dollar menu burgers and you switch to buying only organic items from Whole Foods, but you can also get healthy and inexpensive items from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can make tuna sandwiches for only the cost of tuna, bread, celery, onion, and relish. We actually save quite a bit of money when we eat healthy. All of this money we save goes right into a Disney Dining fund. Not only are we eating healthier, but we have that carrot to chase as we attempt to get into shape!
Since Sarah and I each have different goals, our exercise plans have always been starkly different. Sarah is primarily concerned with cardio and toning, and in the past she has turned our living room into her fitness center, using games such as Your Shape Fitness Evolved. Before you say, “that’s it,” give one of those games a try. They’re ridiculously challenging on their highest levels. (Fortunately they don’t start out that way.) I made the foolish assumption of thinking I could go toe-to-toe with her in one of these games once (my first time “playing it”) after she had been using it for a few weeks and I about collapsed after 10 minutes. In this day and age, literally all you need to get in shape is a TV and a video game system! (Well, plus good diet, as mentioned above.) In addition to these games, Sarah also now goes to the gym for classes and other things that our living room isn’t quite large enough to accommodate.
My workout regime is much more traditional. I get up at 5:30 am every morning before work, fire up the Playstation 3 to listen to some Disney tunes or the Top 7 Must Sees with Stacy (go to Mousebits.com to get a cleaner copy that you can put on your computer or Playstation; only amateurs watch the new “Must Dos” on their home TV) and do weight training. You can purchase cheap weights at Wal-Mart, but I made the investment in Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) so that my weights wouldn’t take up so much room. I do a once every three days rotation, with arms (primarily biceps and triceps) the first day; chest and back the second day; and abs and lower body the third day.
In the evening when I get home from work, I go running around the neighborhood. Probably not something that needs any more explanation. As further “Disney motivation,” I listen to a selection of some of my favorite Disney podcasts. Although my podcast preferences change, right now the ones to which I primarily listen are WDW Today, WDW Radio, WEDWay Radio, Be Our Guest Podcast, and Mousetalgia. There are a lot of Disney podcasts out there (I’m planning on adding 2-3 more into my rotation as I ramp up my exercise regime–any suggestions?), so figure out which podcasts appeal to you, and listen to those while you run!
Pretty simple, right?
Fitbit Community “Motivation”
Up until this point of the post, pretty much everything here was written in anticipation of that first runDisney event as we prepared for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler. That preparation went reasonably well (we finished the race with decent average mile times!), but we didn’t train nearly as well as we would have liked, nor did we keep up with it after the event. Quite the contrary, we got pretty lazy and have fallen sort of out of shape.
After hearing some friends rave about the Fitbit Flex, I finally decided to see what all the excitement was about, and picked one up. Within the first day (really, the first hour) of using it, I knew it was for me. The device tracks steps, calories burned, miles, sleep quality, and some other stuff, and you can see this all on their website or mobile app. That’s not what’s a big deal to me.
What makes this a game-changer for me is that you can participate in activity communities and “compete” with your friends. I am super competitive, and seeing my friends beating my daily totals motivates me to go outside and run instead of sitting on the couch and watching a rerun of Seinfeld for the 58th time.
If you are a Fitbit user and want to “compete” in our DisneyTouristBlog Fitbit Community for the highly prestigious “Ultimate Stepper” crown (truly the noblest honor that any Disney fan can earn…or something like that), please join. The more, the merrier! If you’re like me, participating in a community like this will give you an even greater incentive to get fit for your next trip. If you aren’t a Fitbit user yet, pick one up and join in our fun today!
When we told our friends who have participated in runDisney events (like the Walt Disney World Marathon) in the past, the immediate and unanimous advice we received was “check out Jeff Galloway’s training.” Seriously, that is what every single person told us. Given that, and since I’m not yet a marathon-running expert, I’ll defer to his advice. Check out his suggestions for beginners and also his tips for marathon training. After that, definitely peruse his site, as he is a wealth of knowledge on the topic.
The only other advice I’ll interject is to make sure your shoes are right for your foot. When I’ve run in the past, I’ve sworn by Saucony running shoes, as I feel they put more attention into the product and less into marketing and endorsement deals like some of the big names (cough*Nike*cough). Brooks is another shoe company I’ve heard great things about. To determine what brand is right for you, head to a local running store (no, not Dick’s Sporting Goods). The prices may be a little higher, but these stores employ experts who keep apprised of all the latest developments in shoe technology and can fit your feet for the shoes that will work best for you. You may pay $50 more or so by going this route, but that’s a lot cheaper than knee surgery down the road. Small price to pay!
As a bit of an aside, after hearing from a couple friends who own the ridiculous-looking things, and reading a few studies about running, my interest has been piqued in FiveFingers by Vibram. These are typically not considered to be a shoe for beginners, so keep that in mind before even considering buying a pair. I plan on doing some more research and consulting with some experts and possibly ordering a pair of FiveFingers (update: I ordered these and LOVE them) at some point in the near future. If you’re considering doing the same, you’d be well advised to read the comments below, which discuss these shoes. The things may look crazy, but hey, at least they’re not as bad as Crocs!
Getting fight for Disney can seem daunting, but if you have a plan and stick with it, support from friends (check out Twitter and other social media for Disney fitness “groups”), and a carrot to keep you motivated (and what better carrot than being in great shape for a runDisney event or even a Disney trip in general?!), you can do it!