Who didn't know we'd have to address exercise - bet you thought we could avoid this subject altogether. Quite frankly, sometimes I'd like to avoid it too, but there really is no getting around the fact that in order to get healthy and lose weight, you have to be active. Our sedentary lifestyle is not the only culprit in today's epidemic of obesity, but it certainly is one of the major players.
Now, don't just run off and join a gym and hit every machine until you fall down into a lifeless lump on the floor and can't move the next day. Blitzing your body is no way to success. What's important is to start small, with something you can do comfortably, and build from there. Your body is an amazingly efficient machine and will adapt to any circumstance you present it with. So, if you start out with a 2-hour workout, you can be assured that the first plateau you hit will require you to increase your workout or reduce your calories in order to proceed. Let's not do that just yet.
Start with a walk around the block, or take a class that you love (or at least don't hate), try one of those DVD's you have collecting dust on your shelf, dance around your house to your favorite song. Just do something, anything, then tomorrow do it again. Do the same thing every day for a week, be consistent. Then next week, add to that - build it up until you are consistently doing some movement for 30 minutes every single day. Then, build from there, until you are doing 45-minutes every day. That's your goal, but start with whatever you can do. If it's 5 minutes, that's 5 minutes you weren't moving yesterday. It won't take long before this becomes a natural part of your life.
Now, if you want or need a gym, by all means join one - just make sure you go every day, don't waste that membership on another card that takes up space in your wallet. Gyms can be fun, and there's variety there, but they cost money and may or may not be convenient. But if that's what you want to do, or need to do to keep motivated, by all means - find one. If you don't want to join a gym, either because of cost or lack of convenience, you might want to get some exercise equipment. Again, something you love or don't hate - and have room for in your home. My favorite thing to do is to scout thrift stores for orphaned equipment at bargain prices - then when you're bored with that one, donate it back and get something else. Recycling at its best!
I won't talk about heart rate and intensity and maximum burn - come on now, you can't open a magazine or turn on the TV without hearing about that. What we're talking about is the hardest thing ever, getting started. Once you have a routine, you can learn all the rules about heart rate, duration, intensity, and anything else you want to fill your head with - just so long as you're moving while your doing it. Then there's which type of exercise burns more calories or works different muscles - who cares, something is always better than nothing. I hate a treadmill, I mean I passionately hate a treadmill - and I avoided it like the plague for about 6 months, choosing the bike instead. I don't love the bike, but I don't hate it either - so that's where I started. Now I alternate with the treadmill - I still don't like it much, but that plateau thing made me have to consider alternatives. Ok, I digress, but you get the point.
How much exercise? Well, while many experts recommend 5 days/week - and that is so much more than most people get, personally I have to do every day. For me, taking one day off leads to many days off - your mileage may vary. Know yourself, if you can be disciplined and stick to the 5-day cardio plan, go for it. If you're a little like me and know that taking a day off leads to a week off, then commit to every day - it will be better for you in the long run anyway. So - enough reading - time to get moving!
Partnership for Change