Exercise may be the closest thing to being the fountain of youth.
First, let’s look at roadblocks, strategies, motivation, and ideas to get you going.
The bottom line is making exercise a big enough priority. I know for me, it was easy to make excuses as to why I didn’t have the time. Looking back, it’s obvious I wasn’t ready to make it important enough. Once I decided to make it a priority, everything fell into place. I started losing unwanted fat and trimming down, building some lean muscle (which helps you burn more fat) and I felt better and looked better. This gave me more motivation to keep going.
Will one workout make a difference? Certainly not. Will four workouts make a difference? Not really. Would 208 workouts a year make a difference? Most definitely! If you were to exercise just four times a week for a year, that would be 208 workouts! Wow! Do you think you would look and feel any differently at that point? Of course!
Most of us tend to not look at the big picture or look into the future to see how our daily decisions shape where we will be 6 - 12 months from now, much less 10, 20, or 30 years from now. It’s too easy to get discouraged. We want results and we want them NOW! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You just have to decide to start, then make a plan and stick to it. You WILL see results IF you don’t give up.
So, the first step is DECIDING that exercise is a priority and working other things in your schedule around it. If it’s not a big enough priority, the “excuses” can always creep in.
Note: Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Before starting any activity, think about how active you are now and what a realistic, short-term activity level goal is (for the next 2-3 weeks or so). If you haven’t been very active and you feel pretty out of shape, starting out with 6 days a week isn’t a great idea. Perhaps 3 or 4 days a week is a good place to start. If you really do want to exercise 5 - 6 days a week, it’s a good idea to start out with 10 - 20 minutes a day. Starting out slowly and then gradually increase the time, intensity, and frequency of your workouts, will not only increase your chances of successfully adding regular exercise as part of your lifestyle, but it will also gradually build your strength and stamina and reduce the chance of injury. Make the goal challenging enough but not too challenging that you get discouraged.
“When you shop for clothes, not every outfit you try on is right for you, but when you find the perfect one, doesn’t it make you feel great? The same is true of exercise. Not every activity you try, whether it’s a weight circuit, a kickboxing class, or a hike through the woods will fit you like a custom-made suit. But when you find the workout that suits your current fitness level, your budget, and your personality, it’s a fantastic feeling!” ~ Fitness for Dummies
Let’s make a plan! See how this might fit into your schedule: For the next 4 weeks, I am going to exercise ____________ times a week for approximately ____________ minutes. After 4 weeks, I will evaluate how I feel and make it a goal to work up to exercising ___________ times a week for approximately _________________ minutes a day. I am ready to put myself at the top of my list of priorities and commit to making exercise part of my routine every week. I have the days/times of my workouts scheduled on my calendar because it’s important and non-negotiable. I can do this!
Be sure to put your exercise schedule on your calendar. The best time to workout is the time that works for YOU. Not everyone can exercise before work, so if that’s the case, what DOES work for you? Map it out in detail. Does that mean it will work best to exercise right after work or after an early dinner?
There’s a difference between asking yourself “CAN I fit it in?” vs. “WHERE can I fit it in?” If it’s important enough, you can FIND even 20 minutes, right? Of course! I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but once you get started and see how great you feel (and look) you are going to be surprised at how much more energy you have and weight loss becomes much easier. If you’re like most people, exercise will become almost addictive within a short period of time and you’ll feel ‘off’ when you don’t workout. It’s a great thing!
Remember back to the session where we went through the exercise to think about your priorities, goals, and your WHY? This is a good time to revisit those goals if exercise is an area where you “feel stuck.” Habits aren’t always easy to change, but you’re worth the effort and in a few short weeks, you are going to see and feel the difference!
Let’s look at some common roadblocks to fitness. If this is an area in which you need help, you’re not alone…so you’re going to want to stick around for this section. If you already have your exercise routine pretty well dialed in, CONGRATS! That’s FANTASTIC! You can skip this section if you want and proceed to the next one where you can look at what else you might want to implement to keep your progress going and avoid hitting a plateau.
Roadblocks – The Top 3 Roadblocks To Fitness: 1. Time – feeling like there’s no time to exercise 2. Knowledge – not sure what exercises to do 3. Motivation – not sure why or how to get started and/or stay motivated It’s not always easy to start being more active. But I’m here to help support you and figure this out together.
If you struggle with finding the time for exercise, you may be surprised at the simple ways to fit exercise into your day. Having an active lifestyle means making choices to move more. Choose to walk up the steps instead of taking the elevator. Walk to places that are within walking distance. Park farther away from the store and walk to the entrance. Set aside one block of time each day to be active. Decide on the best time to reserve 20 to 30 minutes to do an activity you enjoy. If one block of time won’t work, think about trying smaller blocks of time, for example, 10 minutes 3 x day or 15 minutes 2 x day.
Replace less active blocks of time with active ones. Walk for half an hour instead of watching an extra half hour of TV, surfing the net, or hanging out on social media. Instead of sitting down to read a book, read while on an exercise bike or treadmill. Stand more while you’re at work. If you have the option to get a standing desk to work at, they are an awesome way to eliminate the usual long hours in a chair. Many of us sit for more than 10 hours each day, which is bad for our posture and activity level. Use a Swiss Ball (Yoga ball) as a chair at your desk. This forces you to engage your core throughout the day and challenges your balance.
Think about your likes and dislikes when it comes to being active. This will help you to decide what you want to do and how much activity is right for you. Plan activities you enjoy! What are some activities you’d like to try? Think about: walking, indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), canoeing, hiking, yoga, dancing, martial arts, fitness classes...the possibilities are endless.
Remember, daily decisions, over time, make us who we are and who we want to become.
Sometimes people aren’t sure what kind of workout best suits them or where to find help. They don’t know “how” to practice yoga. They’d like to increase their strength but aren’t sure how or which weights to use. If this sounds like you, it might be good to just start with walking for now. After 3 or 4 weeks, you can add some strength training, interval training, yoga, or another form of exercise. The big thing, for now, is to not overanalyze things and just get moving doing something. For most people, walking is the easiest to start with.
You don’t have to join a gym if that’s not your thing. I do most of my workouts at home with a great selection of exercise DVDs and online programs. You can join a gym and workout on your own or invest the money in a certified personal trainer.
What appeals to you the most? Working out at home, going to the gym, taking a dance or yoga class, or outdoor activities? Ask for referrals from people you trust. If you’re interested in a gym, yoga studio, or dance classes, ask for trial membership and visit as often as you can during that period of time.
I hear this frequently: “I just don’t feel motivated to exercise.” Can you relate? Think about it. What do you really want and what do you think is holding you back from taking action. What is your goal and why is that important to you?
Like the NIKE slogan says, “JUST DO IT.” I believe it comes down to DECIDING that you are going to do it. The only way to avoid paralysis by analysis is to start with SOMETHING; Just a baby step to get you going. Truth is, if it’s important enough, you’ll find a way to do it. Instead of the voice in your head that gives you reasons NOT to do it, focus on the reasons why you CAN do it. You don’t always have to feel motivated to do something, but when you just start doing it anyway, before you know it, you will have created a new habit. And, you’ll feel great.
Sometimes we get hung up with feeling self-conscious and that can hold us back. The truth is, nearly everyone seems to be more worried about how they look and what they’re doing than they care how you look or how you’re doing. So who cares, right? I remember feeling self-conscious when I would be at the gym working out in the area that some call “the big boy room” where the “big dudes” workout. I was very outnumbered in there! Once I realized I had just as much of a right to be there as they did, slowly I started to feel better about it, and truth be told, they were all quite nice and some were very helpful.
It goes without saying that it may be another story if the reason you don’t feel motivated is that you feel run down and tired. If you know why you’re tired or run down, addressing that as soon as possible would be the first step. For example, you may not be getting adequate sleep, you may not be eating enough or eating too much, or you could be dealing with way too much stress. If you can’t get through your day without caffeine, it could indicate a problem, and finding out the cause now can get you on the road to feeling better and getting better results.
If you aren’t sure of the cause, you may need to see your doctor to ensure your nutrient levels, hormone levels, thyroid, and adrenal functions are within a normal range. Your doctor may also check other indicators to find out WHY you’re tired.
Often, clients have a big weight loss goal and until they release a few pounds they don’t feel motivated to exercise. This is okay. Perhaps for now the focus needs to be on healthy eating and sleep habits. Once a few pounds come off and someone feels better about themselves, the urge to exercise increases. (I started with the food element.)
So, whether you workout at home or at the gym or outdoors, just know that wherever you are right now, it’s your starting point and it’s okay. Progress is exciting and when you stick with it, you will see and feel great results and that builds your confidence. It matters more where you are GOING than where you are right now, so don’t let that stand in your way.
Exercise is part of achieving balanced health. And, whether you want to exercise to help you move better, look better, feel better and age better – or to support your weight loss goals by burning more calories – the time to start is now.
If you’re on track to losing 10 pounds or 100 pounds, each day you make the decision to exercise is a day closer to reaching your goals. You can start to see changes within 4 weeks if you are consistent. If you’re competitive or want extra support, you might enjoy having a friend to exercise with. This also helps with the accountability factor. Just be sure to have a plan for the days that your friend can’t join you. Who can you think of who might want to do this with you? Chances are, they have similar goals and you can help each other stay motivated.
Train for an event! Consider a fun event, like a 5k, 10k, or Mud Run, or something fun. It’s great to have an event to train for so you have a target date to shoot for. Just allow enough time to train properly.
The principle of overload states that you must exercise more than normal to build fitness. The principle of progression states that you should gradually increase your exercise in order to work toward your fitness goals. The FITT principle explains this.
Frequency - refers to how often you will be exercising (3-6 days a week depending on your current fitness level). The more you exercise the stronger you’ll get and the easier it will be to lose weight and build stamina.
Intensity - refers to your level of effort while working out. There’s a big difference between just ‘showing up and giving your workout 100% effort. You’ll see results quickly when you give it your all. Of course, there are days when our energy may not be quite as high and in those instances, even giving 70% effort is better than no workout.
Time - refers to how long you’re exercising. Generally, you’ll want to aim for a minimum of 30 minutes and build up to 60 minutes for maximum results. Start where you are now and build from there. It’s okay to start with 20 minutes if you are just getting back into a fitness routine, but don’t go too easy on yourself either.
Type - refers to the kind of exercise you do. It’s best to mix up your routine and incorporate a variety of workouts including; strength, cardio, and intervals. If you’re just beginning, don’t worry about this quite yet. Just get moving with something you find doable. You can add in variety in 3-4 weeks.
Look at how often you’ll exercise, what type of exercise you’ll be doing, how much effort you can put in, and how long your workouts will be. Planning ahead and scheduling time for exercise each week is the best way to make sure something else doesn’t get in the way. It needs to be a high enough priority for it to get done.
Other helpful motivators include fitness tracking devices and apps like Fitbit or Runkeeper. These devices give you an estimate of calories burned, your heart rate, steps taken, your sleep patterns and more. They can be a great way to get real-time feedback on your fitness efforts, so it may be worth looking into. The data the gadgets provide are all very comparable. You can also just get a simple pedometer that tracks your steps for around $15. Start your goal at 5,000 steps if you haven’t been very active and work your way up to 10,000 per day over the next few weeks. Stride lengths differ of course, but 10,000 steps equal around 5 miles. Wearing a tracking device really makes you more aware of your activity level throughout the day so you’re more likely to do more.
Note: Be sure to check with your doctor if you aren’t sure what daily step goal is right for you. If you have been very sedentary, it may be more realistic to start with fewer than 5,000 steps per day. See what works best for you and adjust from there.
Focus on your WHY if you start to talk yourself out of your workout. Tell yourself “Do it anyway.” This usually worked for me on the days I just didn’t feel like exercising. Ask yourself “What’s going to get me closer to my goals?” I also love how I feel after I workout (energized and happy) so when I imagine how I will feel when I’m done, that’s helpful too!
Note: It’s important to listen to your body. If you’re sick or feel truly wiped out, it’s best to rest and recharge so you can come back even stronger. Also, if you have an injury or health condition, check with your doctor and use your best judgment before returning to your routine. Rest when you need to, not when you just ‘want’ to.
Once you're warmed up, experts recommend three different types of exercise for overall physical fitness: cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning, and flexibility training. These don't all have to be done during the same workout, but doing each on a regular basis will result in balanced fitness.
• Cardiovascular activity. Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the "talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. But if you can easily sing a song, you're not working hard enough. Heart rate monitors are a great way to track your optimum level too.
• Interval training – Alternating bursts of high-intensity movement followed by intervals of lighter activity. You can mix up your workout by doing cardio, followed by strength training exercises, then back to cardio. You can also fit this into your running or walking routine by walking at a regular pace for a few minutes, then follow with a faster pace for a little while, then back to your regular pace.
• Strength conditioning. For the ladies, - strength training will not bulk you up. We don’t have the testosterone levels that men do so you don’t need to worry about becoming the HULK! Strength training WILL help you reshape your body and help you burn more fat and calories. The more muscle you have, the better your metabolism. PLUS… I know for me it makes me feel strong and empowered! What a great feeling!
Strength training can involve body weight exercises, resistance bands, free weights, and weight machines. Basically, anything that creates resistance will improve your level of strength and help tone your body. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week. Don’t work the same body part two days in a row with strength training. You also want to increase the level of resistance as your body adapts so you continue to see results.
• Flexibility training. The American College on Exercise recommends doing slow, sustained static stretches three to seven days per week (this should be done after your warm-up or at the end of your workout). Each stretch should last 10-30 seconds.
This session assumes you are at least at a beginner level of fitness with no health complications or contraindications for exercising. Use your judgment and common sense to determine what’s best for you. Boredom can be the enemy of any workout routine, so keep yourself engaged and entertained when needed. Having great music to listen to helps the time fly by!
The best way to avoid problems is to prevent them. Here are some ways to prevent common minor injuries, sore muscles, or cramps: • Increase your activity level, frequency and intensity gradually • Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) before, during, and after being active • Warm-up before every activity, and cool-down afterward (10-15 minutes) Seek the advice of your doctor for anything you are not certain you’re ready for or before beginning a new exercise program.
“Few things in life can match the euphoria you feel after a great workout. Your muscles are tired, you’ve worked up a serious sweat, and your mind is relaxed. And for that moment, you are free of stress and worry and everything else feels amazing” Todd Durkin, M.A., C.S.C.S. – author, ‘The Body Impact Plan’
TO DO THIS WEEK 1. Decide which days and times you will exercise for the next 2 weeks. Put it on your calendar as if it is an important appointment – because it is an important appointment for yourself! 2. Determine what type of exercise you will do during the next 2 weeks and how long each workout will be. 3. Call a workout buddy. Do you have a friend that can join you to help be your accountability partner and also make it more fun?