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!!!