My exercise advice for newbies

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

It's the beginning of a new year and that always brings scores of new people to dieting websites, such as Spark People.com. I myself joined SP exactly one year ago today, after making a new year's resolution to lose weight. I'm so excited to report that I actually kept that resolution and lost 50 pounds!

When I first started SP, I remember reading that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I hadn't exercised in years and frankly hated it, so I was determined to lose weight by focusing only on the diet aspect and ignoring the exercise part.

But I didn't take into account something: spark points! Did you know that for every 5 minutes you spend exercising, you get a spark point? I became determined to rack up as many spark points as I could. I don't know why, but I'm competitive and wanted spark points. Every day I would systematically go through the list of ways to get spark points and do whatever I could to get them. I would read and comment on member blogs; I would post; I would track my food; I would take quizzes and read articles. You name it, I did it. Except exercise.

After all, who really has time to exercise? In my mind, exercise meant paying money and joining a gym, then driving 15 minutes there, changing clothes, working out in front of thin, athletic folks and feeling self-conscious, taking a shower and dressing and putting on make up and fixing my hair, driving back to work, etc. I just did not have time for that. This was not just a made up excuse. But I needed those exercise points!!! What to do??

One day early in my journey, I was nuking my Lean Cuisine for lunch in the break room at work. Four minutes. I had to stand there tapping my feet for four minutes waiting for my lunch to cook. Boring. I hate being idle. So I walked downstairs (I'm on the third floor) and walked back up. Twice. That took 4 minutes and left me breathing heavily. (It's a big office building and there are 28 steps between floors and it's more like 2 floors for each floor, making it more like 4 floors I walked up and down.)

Hey! If I could do that for one more minute, I could get a spark point! So I did. That wasn't too hard. I didn't have to change my clothes or drive to a gym or spend money or get embarrassed in front of skinny athletes to do this "exercise".

So that is how I started exercising. After about a month of that, I started spending 10-15 minutes in the afternoon walking up and down the stairs at work. It was my break time. The stairwell has a big picture window so I could look outside, and since everyone uses the stairs, it wasn't obvious that I was "exercising".

By the way, I chose stairs because if I just walk around outside, it doesn't get my heart rate up. To get my heart rate going, I would have to walk very briskly, and then it was obvious I was exercising. With the stairs, your heart rate goes up because of the affect of gravity and because of the rest period (walking down the stairs). I found that with the stairs, I was able to raise my heart rate, which is very important when exercising. For me, a stroll in the afternoon did not produce the same rise in heartrate, which is what is needed for exercise to work.

So my advice to all the newbies out there is this: Don't start out doing too much too soon. You'll get burned out. Start slowly. Do a little at a time and make a new habit -- but an easy one. After a while, increase the time you spend doing it. Go slowly. Don't feel like you have to spend money or take time you don't have to exercise. Make it work somehow. If you really want this, you will figure out a way.

You can do it!!!
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I can so relate about getting Spark Point! It's like an addiction!! I don't have any stairs available at home or work, but I have learned to start out slow and build on what you're doing. I've been increasing my walking speed and distance and have even contemplating trying some running. This is such a foreign idea to me!! But seems to be the natural progression of things...time will tell.

    Thanks for sharing!! And congrats on all you've accomplished.
    3195 days ago
    Thanks for posting this; I really appreciate it because I didn't realize you can get a sparkpoint for every 5 minutes of exercise. Don't know how I missed it, but now I think it will help!
    I love the stairs thing btw!
    3220 days ago
    Great advice and congrats on your success too!
    3220 days ago
  • JTK131
    That is great advice! It can seem so overwhelming when starting out - learning the site, taking the time to track foods and read to educate yourself about making healthy choices, it can be tough to find the time/motivation/courage to start exercising too! But starting small can lead to big, wonderful things down the road! Congrats on all of your successes over the past year, you earned it!!
    3221 days ago
    Great post!
    3221 days ago
    Great blog! I can relate to it.
    3221 days ago
    Good advise, thanks, emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3222 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Keep up the great workouts! Jean
    3222 days ago
    Awesome Blog and Great Advice!!!
    3222 days ago
    This brought back memories - when I first began exercising 27 years ago I wanted to do Jazzercise but wasn't about to put my fat fanny in a leotard. I'd read that going up stairs burns more calories than about anything so I determined to go up and down the stairs to the basement. I gradually worked up to 50 trips up and down the stairs (kept track by holding pennies in my hand and putting one down each time I reached the bottom of the stairs). I listened to fast music (fame and footloose come to mind) and that's how my exercise life began. I went from there to Jazzercise to running - and the rest is history!!
    3222 days ago
    when just starting out to exercize start out slow and work your way up
    3222 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

More Blogs by JULIENMM