The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

January 11, 2014

Working Out Without Plastic, Part 1

YouAsAMachineIn October, when Kathryn Palumbo first contacted me on Twitter from @YouAsAMachine, I thought, “Who the heck is this woman with the ripped abs and the funny Twitter handle? And why would someone like this be tweeting me, a totally out of shape but committed plastic-free activist?” I’m not exactly sure why I thought it was strange except that I don’t know any fitness trainer type people, and I guess I had this pre-conceived idea that they all wore Spandex, lived on bottled water and energy bars, and spent so much time in the gym they didn’t have time to care about the environment.

So, I was blown away by Kathryn’s article, “You As An Environmentally Conscious Consumer.” Here are a few excerpts:

It’s not enough to just focus on ourselves at a micro level of health and nutrition. We must consider the macro environment with respect to our healing choices. What good is it, if in the process of preparing healthy food for my family, I end up contributing to environmental landfill waste by purchasing organic products and produce that come in single-use plastic packaging!

We may exercise for our health, but neglect the impact of the post consumer waste all those energy bars and gel packs have on the environment. Where does all that garbage go after the race or training session? What is the impact of those “foods” on your system anyways? Train longer to build a stronger body, to necessitate ingesting processed “foods”…for what? To break down the body before its time?

I found myself going, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I have to meet this woman!”

Exercising Without Plastic

I started browsing Kathryn’s fitness website, You As A Machine, and discovered her “4 Minute Morning” series of exercises that start slow and get progressively more strenuous each week.


What I love about it is that the exercises require NO special clothing or equipment of any kind. Meaning NO PLASTIC. Not even plastic shoes since you do them in your bare feet. It’s awesome to reject the notion that you have to buy workout products in order to get in shape. The Universe gives us exactly what we need: Our muscles and gravity. (This is not to say that I don’t ever go to the gym or use some equipment and shoes, but just that we don’t have to if the goal is simply to be fit. More on this topic in a future post.)

Anyway, I started the 4-Minute Morning program several weeks ago, and I have to admit that I have not been as diligent with it as I should. After several weeks, I am still on the routine from the end of Week 2. I sent Kathryn a video of me doing the routine (a video which you guys will NEVER see), and she gave me some great advice about simple adjustments I could make. She said that daily consistency and focusing on form and posture are most important. So one of my sub-resolutions for this year is to do the 4-Minute Morning routine every day and focus on my alignment.

With that in mind, here is an inspiring piece from Kathryn on making resolutions.

Everyday Resolutions

by Kathryn Palumbo/ You As A Machine)

The end of each December is a popular time to turn over a new leaf. Rather than making New Year’s Resolutions, I resolve to improve my weak links on a daily basis, as the need arises, and believe me the need arises. But New Year’s Day is as good a day as any to get started; however, it is getting started and never stopping that is what’s worth keeping in mind.

Over the years, I have adopted the motto: “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.” And I practice implementing these words into my everyday actions.

Be it how I communicate with my kids, how I make lifestyle changes to eliminate plastic from my life or how I am constantly making adjustments with my body alignment, which causes me to re-evaluate and reconfigure my daily body maintenance routine.

Here are some suggestions. For the long version click here:

Q: I want to change ______, but how do I even get started?

A: Getting started can be as simple as having an idea and making the decision to follow through on that idea. However, within this simple step there are a few sub-steps to climb. Achieving goals and changing habits is not linear but rather cyclical and overlapping.

Q: I’ve made many resolutions in the past but have always fallen short. How do I change this behavior?

A: By being consistent. Self-discipline is borne from being consistent. Don’t give up on yourself. There is a lot of self-coaching that goes along with keeping your word to yourself.

Q: I tend to stick to a program when I have someone to answer to, like a personal trainer or when I go to a group class.

A: Learn to become accountable to yourself. Try not even telling anyone what changes you have planned. Learn the necessary skills from someone more skilled than you and become your own expert.

[Note from Beth: While I’d love to be accountable to only myself, it definitely helps me to have community support… hence, this blog and My Fitness Pal.]

Q: How do I create lasting change?

A: Setting a new habit requires repetition. Let’s say for example that you want to lose weight and get in better physical condition. I believe it is best achieved by making very small changes so as to not overwhelm oneself, which is the idea behind my 4-minute morning series.

Hopefully, as you go through the progressions, you will learn more about yourself and your body and discover areas that need further exploration. Note: ALL areas need further exploration. :-) I believe that exercise is meant to establish a balanced musculoskeletal system. When we are in balance, our body works at an optimal level (which is different for everyone).

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” -Archilochus

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9 years ago

Beth Terry RachelWassermanHershberg

Most shoes are recyclable. The water bottles at races should be also. This is not NO plastic, but substantially better than plastic cups that they sometimes use.

Didn’t Ireland start charging for plastic bags? It seems to me that without policy change, all of these individual efforts, although possibly consciousness raising, are just drops in a bucket.

9 years ago

My two cents – I run and do a lot of yoga. As people mentioned, running is really the simplest thing in the world – you should really just need a good pair of shoes, and maybe a few items of clothing. The gels are only necessary for very long distance runners. And yoga is the most low-tech – even Iyengar yoga, which is what I practice and uses a lot of props, advocates that the props be made out of natural products that are biodegradable. There are always people out to make their living off of you. –

9 years ago

Totally in line with my idea of ‘resolutions’ this year – I have 12 one month health challenges. This month is to take the stairs always (three flights in my place). Last month was to walk everyday, one minute more each day. Next month is drinking 2-3L of water per day. The one month gives time to make it a routine (I still walk on work days) but also makes it easy to say ‘It’s only 30 days, I can do this’ but… then it becomes a healthy habit you tend to keep!

Of course, I’m keeping myself accountable by a few blog posts, and my partner knows too. And I’m your myfitnesspal pal too!

Sheri Puckette
9 years ago

One reason I always liked hiking/jogging for fitness was the minimal “stuff” requirement. Except the shoes of course. But even with that there sure is a lot of stuff promoted as “necessary”. I like this gal’s approach!

9 years ago

Since you mentioned energy bars at the top of your post, I wanted to recommend Power Hungry…I got this cookbook for my sister for Christmas, and our whole family loved the recipe we tried. The idea of it is making your own power bars/energy bars/protein bars/granola bars, and there are both copy-cat versions of popular bars you can get at the store, as well as a whole bunch of original recipes meant for different purposes depending on your needs (protein-heavy, carb-heavy, balanced, raw, veggie-focused, etc.). Definitely a great way to still enjoy these without plastic, plus you can customize your own favorite flavors and save money. :)

Here’s the author’s website if you are interested in checking it out: (I checked and the Berkeley and Oakland public libraries both have it!)