Eating healthy is a great step towards building a great foundation for getting healthy, but eating right along with exercise is what really will get you there. You can do one and not the other, but you’ll only be halfway there. We need both!
There’s so many benefits to exercise, it’s crazy. Not only does it control our weight, boosts our HDL (“healthy” cholesterol), combats heart disease, depression, cancer, arthritis, improves our mood and energy, and promotes better sleep.
Through reading a lot about exercising in the past couple years, and taking what I have learned from my career training, I’ve gathered some tips for those who want to begin and maintain a healthy exercise program.
Tip #1: Start today! Do anything to get you moving. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, just start. Walking and running are great ways to start, because you don’t have to join a gym or get any fancy equipment. All you need are shoes! Swimming and biking are two great exercises too, if you have access to a bike or pool.
Tip #2: Stop making excuses! We all have so many. No time, no place, we’re tired, no money, it’s too hard, etc. I definitely made these excuses in the past (and still sometimes do) but the point is to just get up and do something. If I’ve had a long draining day at work, and I don’t feel like working out, I’ll try and get up and at least take a walk. Sometimes I’ll get my energy back during the walk and it’ll turn into a jog. Sometimes it will remain a walk, and that’s okay because I got up and did something. But most of the time you’ll notice that when you start moving, it’ll give you that rush of energy!
Tip #3: Overcome the initial inertia. This is kind of part of tip #2. Once you get over that initial hump, exercise will become invigorating and fun.
Tip #4: Slow and steady wins the race. You may be tempted to start a program full force, ready to run a marathon or lift huge weights. If you start slowly, you are more likely to succeed. If you start with too much, you are more likely to burn out and fail. A good example of this is training for a 5k. If you’re not sure how far you can run at first, don’t force yourself to run the whole three miles right away. Try for one mile at a time, then slowly build up. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to run the whole three miles right away! By holding yourself back, you’ll be eager to get to your next workout, when you can do a little more than the last one. What a boost!
Tip #5: Tell people about your progress! Show your friends your running statistics. Post on Facebook if you’re comfortable. Sign up for the popular app MyFitnessPal, where you can find your friends and share your progress. Share screenshots of your workout with your friends for some positive praise.
Tip #6: Allow rest days. Our muscles need rest in order to recover. If you never recover, you are continually breaking them down. Make sure you have at least one rest day per week, and keep it to three intense workouts per week.
Tip #7: Reward yourself. Make mini goals and reward yourself after you meet each one. If you run today, buy a new song for your running playlist. If you lift weights twice in one week, treat yourself to a new workout shirt. Whatever it takes to motivate you! Try not to reward yourself with food, that can be counterproductive.
Tip #8: Don’t use weight loss as your only goal. Try to only weigh yourself once a week, no matter how tempting it is. Our can fluctuate by several pounds daily. If you want, try taking measurements of your biceps, thighs, hips, etc and track your progress that way. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat, and you may even see the scale go up while your body tightens!
Tip #10: Practice a happy, positive attitude about exercise. Thoughts such as “There’s no way I’ll be able to run two miles today.” or “I’m not seeing any progress this week, so there’s no point in exercising today.” These break us down and discourage us from reaching our goals. Stop those negative thoughts right when they come, and replace them with: “I’ll start running slowly today, and take my time, and not worry about the distance. I’ll focus on how I feel.”. Or, “I may not see any progress this week, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. My muscles, heart and bones are getting stronger with each workout I do.”
Somehow, we all just need to learn to love moving our body! For more inspiration, Topaz from Art of a Beautiful Life, has written a great post called 7 Ways I Learned to Love Exercise. Check out how she went from despising exercise to doing it regularly.
What is your favorite form of exercise? What excuse do you battle often, and how do you overcome it? What are your tips for overcoming excuses?