The dreaded E word…….yup I’m talking about exercise. In part one, I discussed getting started on changing your food. Now lets talk about getting started with exercise.
Again, no secret here folks, EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOU! The general recommendation is 20 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week. That’s at a moderate level. So how are you going to achieve that?
The question I get asked the most is what did I do to get started. The first step was to come to the realization that I needed to do something about my weight. I know it sounds simple, but it’s not an easy realization to make when you are obese and very sedentary as I was and as some of you reading this may be. Those of you that are in the same situation I was in, I’m here for you. I ‘m going to be honest with you, the first time I got serious about my exercise and started my routine, I was extremely disappointed in myself. I was so disappointed that I would hide, most likely in the bathroom, and just cry. I would ask myself “How did I get to this point?” Well I can tell you, this was an extremely important part of my journey . It was those points, where I told myself I needed to do this for me, and no one else. There are many external influences in our lives that either prevent us or inhibit us from achieving our goals. I can assure you, when you have this moment and you realize that what you are doing is a good thing, things will turn for you.
So, how should you get started. Well depending on your current physical state, that varies. I want to focus on those that are extremely out of shape like I was. My opinion is you shouldn’t go bananas on buying a DVD like insanity or something like that because, quite frankly, you won’t do it. It’s too much right out of the gate. Don’t get me wrong, you do need to push yourself, but let’s also be realistic about it. If you are like I was, it’s not going to work for you. Over the last few months, I have had conversations with people either live or through social media looking for advice. Most recently was with some one who has been struggling to not just lose weight, but keep it off. They commented that they are just walking right now. My response was “Don’t minimize what you are already doing”. The fact that you are making the effort to change is something that can be and should be built upon.
That’s how I got started, first walking in the neighborhood and then eventually joining a gym and spending time on the treadmill. My first walks were slow and laborious. Huffing and puffing the whole way and the walk would be a mile at best. Then I started to notice, afer a relatively short time, they were getting easier, faster and longer. I could feel things starting to change. What was the motivation? After every walk, I would log it into my Runkeeper app and see how many calories I would burn. Each walk after became a little competition with the pervious one. I would try to go faster and farther to shave a few more calories.
Now one of the problems people run into is they want instant results. Sorry folks, aint going to happen. It took me 18 months to get where I am and even two years after that point, I still am finding new ways to push myself. What I recommend is find some type of app that you can use to track your physical activity. Why? Like I said, we want instant result, and by tracking your activity, it will provide you measurable results that you can see. This is more important at the start of your journey than any physical changes you will see down the road. Remember, your body isn’t use to this type of activity. By tracking your activity levels, you will know when it is time to push a little more. It’s amazing the power information can have on you when trying to make a change. Focus on increasing your stamina and cardiovascular strength. You will need that foundation to build on. You don’t have to join a gym to do that. When I first started, my exercise was very simple, and I concentrated more on building up my endurance and cardio strength. This was done by spending a significant amount of time on the treadmill and walking though my neighborhood
After a few weeks, I would find something else to do to mix up the routine. I would start to add short bursts of running, and I MEAN short. Again though, each time they became longer and longer. Now you know you’re getting better, and feeling better. That’s what it takes and then it will be a few pounds for you to start noticing a difference. After a few weeks of doing this, I started to incorporate weights into my routine. I was not doing any of the lifting I do now by any stretch of the imagination. My lifting routine was mostly on weight machines, not free weights. For me and I’m sure for others, free weights were very intimidating. You need to put yourself in situations where you can have success, regardless of how small they are. Using the weight machines gave me that opportunity. Don’t worry at all about “bulking up” at this point. Your goal is still to increase your endurance and strength. Don’t be worried about what other people are doing, they don’t matter at this point because you’re in this for you not them.
I vividly remember being at the gym the first few times and seeing guys my age in much better shape, and younger guys doing heavy lifting. I would sit there thinking to myself between sets “What do they think of me?” You know what…..Who cares what they think! When I finally got to that point, no one else mattered. My workout became focused on one thing, making me the best I can be. I’m telling you this to point out that you are not and will not be the only person going through this. Almost everybody in the gym is there to better themselves, not to judge. Guess what, they may have the same insecurities you have. These people are just like you and can have an impact on your world…..it’s pretty cool.( The People you will meet…. ) Once you get past this point, you will start to find your own inner drive. Who knows what it is, but this is a great time to set a small goal for your self. Maybe it’s double your running time (not distance) or increase your weights to a certain point. One of the best days I ever had in the gym was the day I achieved one of my goals. I bench pressed the amount of weight I have lost (140 lbs). You want to talk about a moment where you feel you’ve achieved something….wow!
When adding weight, don’t over do it. Find your limit in a gradual safe way. Again this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself, but be true to yourself about it. Also think about working the muscles that are part of your everyday life. Your arms, shoulders and legs. Weight loss and muscle building will start from the outside in. Meaning your core (aka beer gut) will be the last to change. That area will be addressed with your cardio. That’s where your going to burn off that fat. After time you can start to think about working your core. Focus on exercises that work those areas I mentioned. There’s a great app called iMuscle that can help you figure out some things to do. My earlier exercises included overhead press (either machine or dumbbells), front and lateral raises, and chest presses. These were all very functional for me, because they started to set a good foundation that will lead to more advanced exercises. My leg routine consisted of squats and leg presses. These two exercises really work your whole leg and small shifts in your feet can work different areas.
What you will see start happening is a routine being created. My routine turned into three days a week were weights and the other two (or three) were cardio. I would be there for many hours each week, and I know not everybody has the amount of time I had. I recognize that, but I challenge you to look at your day and I bet you can find a time to get something done. You wouldn’t believe all the crazies that are outside the gym at 4:45 am to workout, me included. Now there are even 24/7 gyms opening up……so really, what’s your excuse for not having the time?
You obviously want to have a certain level of fun doing this because it makes it easier. Find a partner. I would go to the gym with my wife and even though we wern’t doing the same workout, we were there to motivate each other. I’m sure you can find someone in your world who can be your support. They might not have to be at the gym or workout with you every time. Even if it’s once in awhile it makes huge difference. Remember, for this to happen you have made a choice to improve yourself. Share that with them. They need to know so they can help you, and who knows, you may become their motivation!
I guess finally…..make a playlist (aka a mixtape)! I know it sounds silly, but for me, it works. Make it whatever is going to help you stay motivated. Classical, opera, contemporary, whatever it may be. For me its 80s heavy metal and yes……the big hair bands have an influence on my exercise.
Studies show it takes 21 days to learn a new habit.
Well imagine the things you can accomplish creating this habit AND what you will accomplish once it is created!