If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you are probably wondering why I am writing on exercise. You probably already know that up until now, exercise has not been a big part of my weight loss journey. Most of my weight was lost through diet modification and nothing else.
The final post in my “So you want to” series is on exercise because being active has a place in a healthy lifestyle. This post is not about going to the gym, or running, or Crossfit or yoga, or any specific form of activity. It’s about creating a life that is active so that you don’t have to spend hours away from your family at the gym (unless you want to).
So what are we told? We are told that we are fat because we are lazy and we eat too much. We are told to get an hour of exercise in and cut our calories, and eventually we might be thin and healthy. This method didn’t work very well for me as a long-term solution, which is why I went wheat free. But it’s not necesarily bad advice, I just think the message is packaged the wrong way.
When I think of “exercise” I think of planned activity that is done for 30 minutes or more, and is usually something very uncomfortable. But really, we should talk more about “activity”. How active are you in any given day? I sit at a desk for my work, and so I have to make a conscious effort to get up and move. Maybe you are on your feet all day or night, maybe you sit down, but let’s look at some ways to exercise that do not invoke images of prison war camps.
What if instead of sitting and surfing the internet on your 15 minute breaks, you got out and walked instead?
What if instead of taking your full lunch break to eat, you ate for half of it, and then walked the rest?
What if instead of meeting in a conference room, you took the meeting outside instead (where possible)?
What if instead of sitting down and watching TV the instant you got home, you were up and moving?
What if instead of letting your kids watch TV, or play games alone, you went outside with them and enjoyed some fresh air?
What if instead of hitting snooze on the alarm clock 3x, you got up and did a basic bodyweight workout?
Maybe you like going to the gym though. Maybe you enjoy the structure of a workout video. That’s fine. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if it’s walking, running, lifting weights, yoga, crossfit, or a DVD in your living room, the important part is getting in activity that works for you. There are so many varying “rules” to exercise that it can be hard to know what’s best. Here’s the secret, the best option is the one that works for you.
Have you heard these ones?
- Don’t workout 2 hours before bedtime.
- Workout in the morning.
- Workout in the afternoon.
- Get at least 30 minutes in per day. Workout altogether, it doesn’t count if it’s not 30 minutes straight.
- Split up your workouts, short spurts of high intensity are more effective
- Don’t eat before you workout.
- Eat something light before a workout….and on and on it goes.
Since no one can seem to agree, here are my basic guidelines. I am going to be honest, part of my new years’ resolution is to include exercise/activity to my daily life. So I will be following them too.
1. Be active everyday. Strive to be more active than you are right now.
2. On some days (2-3x/week) do some sort of activity that helps build muscle.
3. Get your heartrate up for at least 10 minutes, 2-3x/week.
4. Find activity you enjoy. (walking, swimming, running, workout videos, etc.)
5. Plan when you will workout the day before it happens. This means that today I am committing to what I will do, when I will do it, and how long I will do it. I am planning it in advance so that I can make the commitment.
6. Do it when it works for you. If you like to workout before bed, then do it before bed. If you like to do it when you first wake up, then do it then. Find a way to work in at least a 15 minute walk each day.
7. Change things up. Your routine may get boring. You may stop getting the results you want. If this happens, try something new.
8. Have fun. If you dread doing it, you won’t stick with it for long. Try new classes, meet new people, and get out there and be active.
9. Make goals with reasonable deadlines and work toward it. I had a goal of being able to do real pushups, so I trained toward that, and you know what? Now I do pushups almost everyday. Just because I can.
This is my take on exercise. It should challenge you, but not be a drudgery. I hope you enjoyed my 3-part series. Let me know what your goals are in the comments below. Let’s make 2014 truly a NEW year.