I have always struggled with my weight. I have gone through periods of time where I was in great shape and looked fantastic. And then there are times when I’ve gained 30-40 pounds and been in diet mode. I’ve followed extreme exercise plans. I’ve done it all.
And I constantly wonder: Is it food or is it exercise? It depends on which expert you ask. Some will say to lose weight, you must use more calories than you consume. Now, more people seem to be following the 80/20 rule. It’s 80% your food choices and 20% exercise.
No matter what, no one can challenge the benefits of exercise. I feel better when I’m exercising regularly. I sleep better. I’m in a better mood.
But as a parent of three young children, it is often difficult to find the time to fit an exercise routine into your life. However, I know that I need to demonstrate healthy habits for my children and that starts at home.
Personal trainers, coaches, and health professionals can provide excellent, professional tips on what to do to get active. Experience has taught me that there are also many things not to do when beginning and sticking with an exercise program. So instead of providing a list of tips on how to get more active, here’s the list on what to ditch to get moving.
So here are my tips on things you have to ditch if you want to have a successful fitness routine.
Ditch the excuses. If you want to make a change for a healthy, active lifestyle, there is no room for excuses. Research indicates that once a person becomes invested in a training program, they will likely continue. Every two years Running USA compiles a survey on runners which includes a profile of the average runner, based on over 30,000 participants. According to the 2013 report, runners “were motivated to start running for exercise and continue to stay motivated for the purposes of staying in shape.” (http://www.runningusa.org/) Time is a major excuse. None of us has any more time than anyone else. Some people are exceptionally good at managing their time, but for those who make time to exercise, it is simply a matter of making it a priority. Television may have to take a back seat, or perhaps you may watch your favorite shows while on the treadmill or other machine. Not being strong enough or physically capable is also not a good excuse. Just watch one episode of “The Biggest Loser” and you know that there is no reason why you physically cannot begin some sort of exercise regime. Plenty of activities can be modified if you have particular physical or health challenges, just be sure to talk with your doctor.
Ditch the fear. If you are scared of failure or scared in general about beginning an exercise program, you need to just get over it. Do not be scared, but think of this as a challenge, an adventure. Many gyms, training programs, and classes can seem intimidating to someone who has not exercised in a long time, or maybe even ever. But there are many easy ways to break into a fitness routine. The best way to start is with a group at the same fitness level. For example, a Couch to 5K program in which all participants are starting from an inactive lifestyle and training to complete a 5K run could be an excellent choice.
Ditch the unrealistic expectations. So your goal is to complete a distance run? So what if you have to stop and walk some from time to time? A walked 5K is better for you than no exercise at all. You are only competing against yourself, so do not worry how fast others can run in comparison. A friend recently said to me “A twelve minute mile half marathon is just as finished as a six minute mile.” If you set small, achievable goals, you will naturally improve over time. You will feel stronger. There is no reason to be scared or push yourself to attain unreasonable goals.
Ditch the crappy diet. If you are putting a bunch of junk in your body, you will not have the energy and fuel that you need to exercise well. Rather than feeling better, you will continue to feel exhausted. A strange thing happens though when you begin to exercise. Your body seems to crave better choices and you also realize how hard you have to exercise to work off a cheeseburger and fries. You need good energy, and lots of it, to have a productive workout. It goes without saying; make sure you are drinking plenty of water!
Ditch the old shoes. Good quality, comfortable shoes are a must. You need to be comfortable and avoid injury if you plan on maintaining an exercise schedule. Invest in a good pair of shoes, especially if you plan on beginning a running program.
Ditch the watch. Keeping tabs on time just makes the workout seem like it goes on forever and ever. Rather than focusing on the time that has passed or is still left before you are done, focus on anything else. As examples, you can try to lose yourself in the music you are listening to or the thoughts in your head. Running provides an amazing opportunity to clear your mind and think about the things your hectic lifestyle makes difficult.
Ditch the naysayers. In a perfect world, everyone around you would want nothing more than to see you succeed. However, this is not always the case. There is an odd phenomenon in our culture that some people like to see others fail. Rather than provide encouragement and help you achieve the goals, these people will be the ones to give you excuses and reasons you shouldn’t be taking time to exercise. Those people are no good for you. Find a group of like minded people who are committed to making a change. They will support you.
This list is developed through personal experience of the things that have held me back from going from having an active lifestyle. But once I ditched these things (or at least make a strong effort to do so) I was able to go from Couch to 10K in one month and am currently training for a half marathon.
Get ready to gain self respect, energy, and probably more years of life when you make a commitment to health and fitness and let’s get fit for Fall!
What are your best tips for getting exercise into your busy life?