I have a friend who’s been following my blog for inspiration for her own fitness and weight loss journey. Knowing this, I’d like to step back and offer some useful ideas and information based on my fifteen year journey.
Fat burning, strength training and stretching are the three fitness keys to a healthy physique. Most people concentrate on one of these area. Some people concentrate on two of these area. Few people concentrate on all three. The few are the most successful. Ladies, do not be afraid of strength training. How many times have you heard this and refused to believe it? Believe it; strength training will not make you big, bulky and manly. It most certainly will not make the average woman squatting 30 pounds a couple times a week big and bulky. What it will do is give you the edge you may be lacking to ramp up your bodies’ ability to burn calories and lose weight.
Do stretch. Our bodies are like a rubber band. We warm it up with jogging, kickboxing, cycling, pick your poison. Then we walk away from what we’re doing, our bodies cool down and the muscles and ligaments become stiff. We need to treat stretching as equally important to the other two areas of fitness. Make sure you hold every stretch for 30 seconds. That’s how long it takes to really relax into a stretch and receive the full benefit of it.
Commit to what you’re doing…not for the short term but the long haul. Choose an amount of time you know you can fit into your schedule for years into the future. In other words, don’t sign up for P90X® at a gym or buy the program and then beat yourself up because you can’t devote all the time required to keep up with it (or the ridiculous effort). I choose DVDs because that works for me. I walk down the hall, pick out one for the morning, pop it in and I’m off to the races. If I had to drive to a gym, for me, that would never happen. My husband, on the other hand, prefers a gym environment. Regardless, most of my cardio workouts are 20-25 minutes long. I have a few that are an hour and try to fit a full hour in a couple times a week but I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. I know (regardless of what I read in magazines or hear on tv) that exercising consistently for 20-25 minutes most days is better than rarely having the time to exercise for one hour.
Look for other ways to move. This is so simple but I see missed opportunities everywhere. Park farther from the door of your office, the grocery store, the entrance to your kids’ sporting events. An hour ago, I jogged from my house to the Credit Union to deposit a check and back home. I didn’t concern myself with the fact that “it’s under one mile to the Credit Union and that doesn’t seem like much exercise so why bother“. I thought “Hey, it’s about two miles of jogging I wouldn’t do if I drove (or used an app).” While I was standing in line, I did calf raises. I do this while waiting to cross a street, too. The thought of “I must look ridiculous” enters my mind but is soon dismissed because other people are probably thinking “Hey, that‘s a good idea.” I have conditioned myself to look for these little opportunities. A lot of small things add up to bigger things and what I’ve learned is the big things can be our undoing.
We get so caught up in the idea of how much we need to exercise that it doesn’t ever happen or it happens for only a couple of weeks. I’ve been consistently exercising for fifteen years and consistently weight training for ten years. My main goal is always to be able to exercise into my 80’s or beyond not to be able to bench press 100 pounds for the next six months.
So, what’s important to you? What do you, realistically, want? Figure it out and then dive in. Set goals but be honest with your time constraints and your motivational level. Two of the strongest words in fitness; success and failure. Don’t set yourself up to feel like you failed and, by default, you will succeed.
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