According to the latest research, we should be exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five times a week. So, that comes out to about 2% of your day. It’s a small amount of time to invest in yourself.
1. Motivation vs. discipline.
Motivation can easily be derailed by a bad day, bad weather, exhaustion and illness. When you’re motivated to do something, you hop in and get going. But when it gets hard, discipline kicks in. Discipline doesn’t waiver. If you want to get fit, you need discipline. You need to decide to start exercising. You need to decide to get fit. Make a conscious choice to start being disciplined.
Find others to join to make your goal. You don’t have to do the same exercises. You don’t have to work out together. You’re more likely to succeed if you have others struggling with you. If you don’t have a support group, create one!
We started a “weight loss” group where I work. The employees started it because WE want to get healthier. Daily motivational emails and weekly tracking of pounds lost and percentage to goal helps everyone stay focused. We have people doing programs, counting calories and getting healthier. After six weeks, the small group of us have lost almost 100 pounds. Not everyone wants to lose weight, though. We have a few people who merely want to feel better.
3. Set your goal.
Specific. Measurable. Write down your goal. Be sure to have smaller and larger goals. Your larger goal may be to get into a dress for your wedding or to run a marathon. Break it down into smaller goals that you can achieve in a week or month.
For losing weight, set a small goal of a pound or two a week. To build up muscle, start with lighter weights and plan to increase the weight or reps each week. For a marathon, start by running shorter distances and increase the amount when you find your current distance isn’t as much of a workout.
4. Small steps.
You are not going to lose 10 pounds this week. You will hate exercise if you try to do five miles the first time you jog and are gasping after a few blocks. Stop when you’re over exerting yourself. Tomorrow, do more. Next week, do even more. Pretty soon, you’ll be there. Start today and see how far you can go to set your starting point.
5. Log it!
I only lose weight when I track everything I eat. Perhaps you want to log your weight loss or distance you’ve run. By logging what you do every day, you can look back and see where you were and how far you’ve come. You may want to expand this into a journal where you also note how you feel. Short stories of how good you felt after running the first mile or how you managed to walk down to the playground with the kids instead of driving will also show your achievements.
You can use photos, applications and notebooks to track your goals. Choose one that works for you and get into the habit of logging every day.
In your mind, picture yourself healthy. Picture yourself doing the things you want to do. This will help you during the weak moments when you’re alone.
I wanted to do a 5K walk with my daughters last fall. I knew that I couldn’t do it with the shape I was in. I started riding my stationary bike. The first time I climbed on it, I failed at less than five minutes. I pushed myself, increasing the amount every time I climbed on the bike. Eventually, I got fit enough to do the 5K walk.
7. Healthy vs. weight loss.
Everyone talks about weight loss. I prefer to think about health. You can lose a lot of weight by taking drugs or having surgery. You will feel better because you’re not hauling the extra weight. However, is your body healthier? Start changing your thinking and goals to become healthy.
8. Every day is a new day.
Just because you are injured, sick or too tired to exercise one day . . . don’t stop. Every day offers another opportunity to get healthy. You can start again.
9. Make it a habit.
If you do the same thing frequently, it becomes a habit. On average, it takes about 66 days to build a habit. For example, you can have a glass of water before eating. Start your day with a jog. Take a family walk after dinner. It’s easier to maintain a healthy exercise program if it becomes a habit. Start moving and see if you can make it a habit.
10. Finding time.
There are a lot of small pockets of time during your day to exercise. If you work, walk during your break instead of sitting and eating snacks. Get up a little earlier, stay up a little later or get your kids started on their homework before dinner to give you a bit of time to move. Examine your day and find time to start your healthy exercise habit.
Working toward a goal is easier if you have a reward. Your goal may be the reward, like fitting into clothing for a special event. However, if you love to shop for clothing, that could be your goal for hitting a certain weight. You might like a massage when you’ve run a certain distance. Write out some rewards and pick one or two that are most appealing to you.
12. What do you enjoy?
Make a list of the exercises and activities you enjoy. You are more likely to stick with it if you’re having fun. If you add music or friends, will it make your choices more enjoyable?
13. Take a walk.
Walking is a cheap way to move. You can do it anywhere — indoor and out. Check out the American Heart Association’s site, startwalkingnow.org for some guidance.
14. Ride a bike.
Biking allows you to move without putting a lot of stress on your joints. If you have an indoor, stationary bike, see if you can program it for workouts. This varies the tension during your ride. If you bike outdoors, check to see if your area has bike trails. Our county parks have bike trails where the miles are already planned for you.
15. Pilates and yoga.
Both of these deal with stretching and strengthening your body. Start easy and work your way up. Check to see if your local YMCA or other organization has classes you can attend.
Put on some music and dance. You don’t need a formal program and you can choose whatever you music you like. In addition, there are video games where you can learn new moves. You can do it anywhere and anytime.
17. Don’t stop.
Continue looking at local offerings for support groups, classes and more to get you started on your healthy lifestyle.
Sites to Explore
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