What image comes to mind with the mere mention of the word exercise?
Does your mind immediately revert back to videos featuring leg warmers and dance music? Or do you think of images of the former linebacker hanging out in the gym grunting and telling stories of his former glory. Maybe you think of the guy who walks around the office in the shirt that is too tight trying to show off that barbed wire tattoo wrapped around his bicep.
Perhaps it is none of those images you think of when you think of exercise, perhaps like me the first thing you think about when you think of exercise is the long list of excuses you can take shelter in to avoid the struggle. Let's see how many I can think of without trying:
- Don't have time to exercise
- Can't afford the equipment
- Don't know what exercises to do
- Don't know which exercises really work
- Exercise is HARD
- Soreness after exercise
- Exercise is boring
I am sure there are many many more.
C'mon it is no secret exercise has so many benefits for your life, it is not a new revelation that through exercise we can not only look better, but feel better and live longer; but it is not easy, and it takes consistency.
Anyone who tells you how fun and easy it is to work hard and swim in a pool of your own sweat is either lying or delusional.
Here is a little secret, you CAN lose weight without exercise. However, if you want to be healthy and look your best you SHOULD mix exercise with your smarter food choices. There are many reasons why to mix in some exercise but one of the simplest and most fundamental is that exercise burns calories. As we discussed in previous blogs to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in, therefore exercise is a very important component to any weight loss plan.
There is so much information available on the topic of exercise that it would be silly for me to try to cover it all here. I do have a couple of ideas in mind for future blogs on various exercise related topics but I want to spend some time discussing my own struggle with exercise and how I am dealing with some of the excuses listed above.
The only way to gain the health and life changing benefits of exercise is to exercise. This is a fact I have known for a very long time. When I was in high school not only was I on the wrestling team, but I also lifted weights on a daily basis and even belonged to a gym, but I was never one of those guys who lived at the gym or loved to exercise. As soon as wrestling season ended my senior year I pretty much quit exercising and began finding other things to do with my time.
Some people truly love to exercise, they practically live for it, I have never been one of those guys. I probably understand how exercise affects the body and which exercise works which muscles better than a lot of people, but I still don’t really enjoy the process. My dislike for exercise may be just as responsible for my immense weight gain as my love for food.
Sometimes like paying bills or scrubbing toilets, we have to do things we just really don’t enjoy. I knew this was true in December when I made this commitment but I wasn’t looking forward to it.
A few years back, I took up running in the mornings, this lasted for about 3 days until I developed shin splits, if you have ever had shin splits you know they are very painful, but if you get shin splits and you already don’t like exercise it makes it even easier to not continue.
Last year in a fluke accident at work, I fell and broke my ankle, this made for an exhausting few months of hobbling around on crutches and going through physical therapy to regain full use of my ankle.
For the first few couple of months I was not very consistent with my exercising and I can almost go down the list of excuses listed above. I live too far from a health club or gym. Financially I can’t afford to join a gym or buy any fancy equipment. I didn’t want to do anything that would cause any more damage to my ankle. The excuses could go on and on.
I did have a plan, I set my alarm clock every morning to get up at 5:30 and began exercising. I picked a few different exercise routines to try. I mentioned consistent earlier, I was very consistent with hitting the snooze button and curling up under the covers and simply not getting up in time for exercise. Have you ever noticed how comfortable your bed is at 5:30 and how much more enjoyable it seems to stay in bed than to get up and work out.
I was making myself do some small things, like park a little farther away from the office and take the stairs instead of the elevator, but small things have only small benefits and I knew to achieve the results I wanted I needed to find a way to exercise that I truly enjoyed and make myself accountable like I had with food.
There are some great programs available. Most gyms will help you get started on a good program for your goals. If you can afford it a personal trainer can be a wonderful advisor to make sure you are doing the right things. If you can’t afford a gym membership or a personal trainer there are still some excellent options available to you Couch to 5k is a great running program that is designed to help beginners be able to run a 5k in just 9weeks for more information here is a link http://www.c25k.com/
If you don’t really want to go to the gym and you are not really into running the key is to find something you enjoy doing. Kayaking, hiking, swimming, biking and many other fun activities are excellent forms of exercise that will improve heart health and burn calories. The important key is to find something you like to do so you don’t get bored.
Another thing that has really helped me is to find a partner to exercise with. This not only helps keep me accountable to make sure I am doing what I am supposed to do, but also keeps my routine from getting too boring because I have someone to share it with, thank you Reagan.
One last point, exercise is not easy. You will be sore the next day after you exercise for the first time, this is normal. Your body is reacting to the new challenge you have issued to it, this soreness will not persist with each workout. Give it a couple of days, and keep moving and the soreness will ease up. Make sure each time before you engage in any exercise routine you stretching well and doing a light intensity warm up.
One of the worst things a beginner can do is to pick something too hard you will tire out too fast and you won’t want to do it again. Keeping this in mind when finding your niche. If you enjoy cycling don’t try to be Lance Armstrong the first time out. The same thing is true with running, if you have not made a habit of running on a regular basis don’t sign up for a 5k and think it will be a breeze. Work your way slowly into your routine but keep pushing yourself to get better.
Exercise is just like any other aspect of weight loss first we must make a commitment then we must hold our self accountable and finally we must set realistic short term goals. The other thing in my opinion is just like when making smarter choices regarding food making smarter choices regarding exercise can make all the difference in the world when it comes to whether or not we can succeed.
Exercise can be the accelerant that ignites the fat burning fire or it can be the road block that completely shuts down the weight loss journey. If we pick the right exercise for us and select a good path that we can follow the results will be remarkable.
For the past month I have made the additional commitment and improved my consistency with my workouts and I believe the scale has recognized this.
If you needed further proof that I don’t really enjoy exercise and that it is something I tend to put off just look at the date on this blog and keep in mind I usually have these up Monday morning.
Thanks to anyone who may be reading and possibly enjoying. I appreciate all of your support as I continue along the weight loss journey and I truly hope some of my experiences are helping some of you.
Next MONDAY by special request the blog will focus on a week in my life, we will discuss exactly what I am eating and what exercises I am doing.
Tomorrow is Weigh–in Wednesday getting close to the half way point!