Friday, April 12, 2013
This is what we all expect when we start a fitness program. We may be trying to establish the habit of working out as a part of our new, healthy way of life but let’s be honest. Usually, we are driven by the desire for some changes. Lose weight, reduce belly fat, see some definition, we all expect a little “something” to happen. And this is true for any fitness schedule whether it’s done at home or not. But since we don’t have anyone to talk about it at home and ask for their opinion, we’d better keep these three things in mind and save ourselves some disappointment.
- The C’s.
Choice, Commitment, Consistency, Change.
If you want the first word to lead to the last, you can’t skip the two in the middle. You made a choice to add exercise to your lifestyle, your own way, in your own place, at your own time. You have to commit to this choice and be consistent. It’s the only way your new habit will lead to change. Excuses and making the best use of any opportunity to skip your workouts are not a part of this deal. You have to be honest with yourself.
If you like it, you’ll stick to it. If it feels like a boring chore or an obligation, you’ll soon quit.
You might have heard of certain workouts that work and do miracles on your body. But what if you don’t like them? What if you have to drag yourself even for a 20-minute workout? You’re not going to be able to do that for long. Fun is a very important element of a workout program. You’d rather dance at the beat of your favorite music than do an aerobics workout that you hate. At least you’re not on the couch trying to persuade yourself that you like it! Chances are…you’ll stay on the couch…
- The 80-20 rule!
The most important thing to remember. The mistake that we all make at some point and we regret later.
“I work out every day, so I can eat whatever I want!”
Or, in other words:
“I’m going to lose weight with exercise, why bother to watch what I’m eating?”
Well, if this kind of thoughts has crossed your mind even once, you have to understand the simple, ugly truth, here and now:
Weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. There is no way you can lose weight through exercise if your nutritional habits remain the same ones that led you to be overweight. Don’t make that mistake. It will only cause further disappointment for you. Exercise is an excellent habit that will help you in so many ways but it can only assist your weight loss efforts. It can’t make your bad eating habits disappear. In short...
With these three things in mind, make your first steps towards an exciting and rewarding fitness journey. Give your body the gift of exercise and enjoy the signs of its gratitude.
Health, endurance, strength.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Being your own coach requires much more obedience and discipline than what would be required by a trainer. He’s not there to correct you so you have to ensure your safety, your right posture and your efficiency yourself. Everything you’ve learned about a correct workout will have to be put into practice. You’ll make some mistakes. But there are some things you’d rather make sure you do and some others that you’d better avoid.
- Start by visiting a doctor.
Yes, I know, you’ve heard about it before. Yes, it’s this tiring introduction at the beginning of every fitness DVD.
But it’s not there just to legally ensure that the creator of a fitness program will have no responsibility if something bad happens. It’s there to remind you that you have to protect yourself and your health. If you haven’t exercised in the last couple of months, years, decades or… lives, chances are that after your first real cardio workout you’ll feel that you’re about to die! Wouldn’t it be better to know that you’re completely healthy? To have the green light from your doctor and know exactly how far you can push your limits to? And if you have certain health issues, then this is not just a “do”. It’s a “must”!
- Begin as a beginner.
If you’re just starting out, “slow” is the first word in your vocabulary. That means low intensity and low impact workouts. In other words you have to help your cardiovascular system and your joints adapt gradually. When it comes to cardio, start with some walking workouts or easy aerobics. Strength training can be slowly introduced to your body with some body-resistance exercises. Follow modifications and listen to your body.
- Make a weekly schedule.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is exactly the case here. If your plan is “I’ll work out when I can” or “I’ll try to find time”, you’re leaving yourself too much space for excuses and cheating. Even if it’s just one workout that fits into your tight schedule, plan the day and time ahead. Make an appointment with yourself and be there!
- Track your progress.
You track your weight loss progress religiously, don’t you? Why shouldn’t you do the same with your fitness abilities? And there’s a great effect here compared to the scale. The scale sometimes moves the wrong way. Your fitness progress will only do that if there is illness or injury involved. Can you think of anything more motivational than watching yourself getting fitter?
- Be patient with yourself.
There is no exercise fairy that will visit you overnight and sprinkle you with a magical stardust filled with endurance, strength and muscle definition! You have to work hard to acquire all this. And the fact that you’re doing all this on your own could be slowing the process even more. So, patience is your friend. And don’t forget that persistence always brings results.
- Don’t make schedules that you can’t follow.
Are you thinking of starting out by making a weekly plan of early morning workouts even though you can find the snooze button on your alarm clock with your eyes closed? Well, the snooze button is about to destroy your plans… If you’re not a morning person, why make such a commitment to yourself? Plan your workouts according to your known way of life. You can make changes later, slowly and according to your needs.
- Don’t skip warm-up and cool-down (stretching).
They may look time-consuming to you but they are the most important parts of your workout. You need to prepare your lungs, your heart and your muscles for exercise and you have to help them come back to normal afterwards by bringing your heart rate back down and by stretching your muscles . Your body will thank you for taking the time to do both.
- Don’t overestimate your abilities.
It’s ok to underestimate. Soon, you’ll realize you can do more and make the necessary changes. But if you overestimate your strength or your endurance, injury could be right around the corner. Again, the advice is the same. Always listen to your body. Don’t ignore signs of fatigue. It may be your body crying out for help.
- Don’t be afraid of a bit of soreness.
Muscle soreness after exercise, which is almost always the case to people who are just starting out, may not be serious but can become a deterrent factor for many beginners. The truth is that it is a good thing. Your muscles are repairing themselves and are adapting to their new role. In short, they’re becoming stronger. Soreness, though, should not be causing you serious moving problems and it should go away within the next 48 hours. If not, you might be overdoing it.
I hope I’ve given you some tips on the strategies you need to follow in order to make exercise at home a pleasant and successful experience. Don’t miss the last part!
Coming up: Working out at home, Part 3 – Three things to remember
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I’m probably not in maintenance mode. If I were, I would still be at my best-ever weight of 68 kilos that I reached last summer.
I’m not in weight loss mode either. If I were, I wouldn’t be battling the same couple of pounds every weekend – borrowing the words from my good Sparkfriend Maura.
Maybe I’m at this “transition to maintenance” phase that the leaders at the “At goal and maintaining” team so wisely added to the team name. And I’ve been here long enough to have given maintenance lots of thought and contemplation.
So what’s the most important thing you can think of when the word “maintenance” comes to mind? Is it the correct calorie range? Or maybe the proper amount of exercise? Could it be the continuous motivation? Or a reward system for our continuous success? A support system of other maintainers maybe? Or is it just that we have finally established a healthy lifestyle that suits us and we can count on it?
Maybe one or more of the above. But quite honestly none of the above is the real reason I’m trying hard to maintain my weight. What has really kept me close to this all-time-low weight of mine is something else. There’s a different reason I try to go back to my healthy habits every Monday even if my weekend has been a complete disaster. The key ingredient to my maintenance attempts – their degree of success being irrelevant – is always the same.
To be more exact, past failure.
I never forgot how easy it is to lose control. I’ll always remember how unbelievably fast the weight we lose can be “found” again. The disappointment I felt when I had to dig out the “big” clothes from the back of my closet cannot be forgotten. The silent, weird looks on the faces of the people who had congratulated me a few months ago are not ones that I would like to see again. And, worst of all, the awful sense of not keeping a promise to myself and of having let me down once more is definitely a thing to try to avoid at all costs.
It never gets easy. Yes, I have formed healthy eating habits that I try to follow. Yes, I’ve made exercise a routine. But still, there are days that I want to be like those people who have an out-of-this-world metabolism and can eat whenever and whatever they like – yes, they do exist even if they are a minority! There are days that temptation will be thrown in front of my face and coincidentally my defense system will have gone on strike! There are days that my emotions will be hard to handle and sweet treats will come to the rescue!
But there will always be the next day. And the next day I choose to remember. I remind myself where this can lead. And I begin trying again. I slowly push myself back on the right track. Simply because I recognize the other road. And I don’t like the place where it leads. I’ve been there.
In short, I really believe that the more failures you’ve had in your weight loss resume, the better your chances of maintaining are. As long as you translate these failures into lessons. As long as you ally with your mistakes and use them towards your goal.
I don’t consider myself a successful maintainer. But I’m one that keeps fighting. Because I’ve learned my lesson. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what maintenance is all about.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
So, you decided to make exercise a habit. Good for you! This is one decision your body will be eternally thankful for. And since the first step is always the hardest and the path between the decision and the actual action is sometimes… never walked, forget about all the difficulties (no gym membership, no money to afford one, no friends to join you for a walk, etc. etc.) and start now! Begin working out at home. A fitness habit that comes with many advantages as well as drawbacks. Let’s look into them.
First, the good things. There are many advantages to exercising at home.
You can exercise completely alone with no eyes staring at you and with no embarrassment due to size, inability to do some exercises, over-sweating, being out of breath or anything else that could make you feel bad – even though it shouldn’t but that’s another story.
- It’s free!
Yes, it is! When you hear the words “workout at home” you may picture something like this:
But the truth is that you only need something like this:
Just a somewhat open space and your body! It’s true that a pair of dumbbells, some resistance bands or even a stationary bike or a treadmill, if you can afford them, could add variety to your workouts and make them less boring. But the reality is that in order to exercise your body, especially if you’re a beginner, all you need is your muscles, your heart, your lungs and your good will. So, no expenses here!
- It’s all-weather and all-time!
Snow, rain, hurricane, heat, darkness? They can’t ruin your exercise plans! So, you get the benefit of no such excuses!
- Family motivation!
When you choose to exercise at home you get to inspire the people you live with. You can be the positive influence to your kids, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your roommates. And they get to inspire you back after a while. And you can all help to keep each other accountable.
- Freedom of choice!
You don’t have to follow the gym’s pre-programmed classes and schedules. You can choose what you do according to your mood. Do you feel like strength training today? Or you’d rather try some kick-boxing to release tension? Or you simply want to just dance to your favorite music and have fun? (Yes, that’s exercise, too.) You decide!
Of course, as with every comfort, you miss out on a few things that a different place for exercise has to offer. There are disadvantages in a home fitness schedule but, fortunately, they can all be dealt with successfully.
- You’re on your own.
No coach, no expert advice. This is probably the worst aspect of exercising at home, the most dangerous and the one hardest to surpass. It can lead to injuries, over-exercising or ineffective exercise, which in turn can lead to frustration, disappointment and finally quitting.
*Dealing strategy*: Educate yourself!
Read articles, watch videos, learn how to become your own coach. If you’re using videos to guide you – which is the best way if you’re new to exercising – always pay close attention to your trainer. Watch the video the first time and follow the moves the second time. Coach Nicole does a great job here. She explains everything in simple language with not many unnecessary technical terms and most of her videos are quite easy to follow even for a person who has never exercised before. Follow the instructions carefully and, above all, ALWAYS listen to your body!
- You’re on your own.
Again. In a different meaning. No gym buddies. No people to keep you accountable and stay committed together. No company to make it fun and enjoyable.
*Dealing strategy*: Recruit support!
If you’re a person who likes to work out with friends and hates loneliness, this can be a tough one. Try to motivate a friend to join you or, even better, a family member or a roommate. If that’s not possible, you can still have a workout buddy by following the same workout plan with a friend – or a Sparkfriend, or many Sparkfriends! – even if each one is exercising at their own place. You can set goals together and keep each other accountable or even compete if you enjoy some friendly competition.
Doing the same things again and again in the same environment will soon become tiring. The initial enthusiasm will wear off and the tendency to skip one workout will become a desire to quit.
*Dealing strategy*: Add variety!
Sparkpeople has so many videos and workouts that you can choose from. And the internet is full of free resources on anything you would like to try. And if you’re willing to spend some money on fitness equipment or DVDs, your options are endless! Mix them up according to your mood and surprise your body every day. It will surprise you back with its hidden strength and its transforming abilities.
- Loss of motivation.
This is actually the result of the previous one but it can also happen for many other reasons besides boredom, like ineffectiveness, tiredness or very high expectations that don’t seem to be realized.
*Dealing strategy*: Keep yourself motivated by setting goals!
How many jumping jacks did you manage to do on your first day? 5? That’s great! How many would you like to be able to do in a month from now? 10? 20? Make your goal realistic and stick to it. It will give you a reason to work out for and every time you reach a goal, the reward of knowing that “you’re strong enough to do it” will be worth all the effort.
Coming up next: Working out at home, Part 2 - Do’s and Don’ts
Get An Email Alert Each Time NUOVAELLE Posts