Ahhh exercise. The math class of healthy living. You either love it or hate it. Unfortunately, for those of you that fall into the latter category exercise is an important part of the equation for health, but before I go any further I am just going to stop and say that no, I am not a certified trainer. I am only telling you what I’ve learned, and what has so far worked for me. Do with the information what you will.
So step 1: Decide you are ready. Step 2: Assess and refine what you eat. Step 3: Exercise. This seems like a good time to discuss terminology. We've already discussed getting rid of the word diet (which again has the word die in it) and replacing it with nutritious and healthy. There is also using "self-control" over "will power". Will power sounds like deprivation whereas control sounds powerful, and like it is a choice because it is. The last group of terms that I want to discuss may be the most misunderstood. The term is "losing weight" This is the overall goal for most people, but this is problematic because the issue isn't weight. The issue is too much fat and too little muscle. Adjusting your food intake will allow you to lose weight and get smaller, but losing that weight doesn't mean you are only losing fat. You will also be losing muscle, and there is such a thing as being skinny, but still having too much fat. Fat, as everyone knows, is the cause of many preventable ailments. Too much fat is the problem, and excess fat is what we want to get rid of; not weight. However, we don't just want to lose fat, we also need to gain muscle. Muscle is what keeps us healthy. Muscle, along with eating enough food, is what makes sure that our metabolism doesn't crash. Unless you work to gain muscle as well as lose fat, more than likely any effort you make to "lose weight" will be for naught. That big study that came out about the contestants on "The Biggest Loser" about how they have all gained their weight back because when you lose weight you are doomed to a life of deprivation because your metabolism slows down is complete bull. Yes, your metabolism slows down because your body needs less to maintain its minimal functions. Yes, you may temporarily go into a type of starvation mode because your body is adjusting to its new norm, but what they left out is that the issue is they lost massive amounts of weight, fat and muscle, in such a short amount of time. This is a marathon and not a sprint. The body can only metabolize two pounds of fat per week. Any more loss than this will include muscle loss, and that is what causes a metabolism to slow more than it should, and lack of muscle is what will make it difficult to maintain weight loss.
All of the studies say that as we age we lose muscle mass, and our metabolism slows, but as it turns out our metabolism only slows because we lose muscle mass, and we only lose muscle mass because we don't stay as active. So what's the point? The point is that in order to be healthy, which is the goal, we have to not only stay motivated, eat well, and exercise, we have to exercise and stay active in a way that will help us lose excess fat, and build and maintain muscle. Muscle is the key component.
To my view there are three components to exercise: Strength training, cardio, and flexibility. I have found that making sure that all of these components are incorporated is not only best physically, but also keeps me from being limited to one, boring type of exercise. For the moment I am not going to go into any more specifics on exercising because the first step to incorporating exercise is being motivated to do so. That being said, let me try to get you into the right mindset.
We often view exercise as a form of punishment. “I ate that donut this morning, therefore I will run an extra 5 miles. If I exercise I won’t get to relax. I hate exercise”. This kind of negative self talk, that I’m sure all of us have experienced, ( I know I have) is a form of sabotage. People weren’t made to sit still. We were made to move. That’s why once we do we feel so good. Exercise releases endorphins that make us feel happy and less stressed, and that’s not an accident. That’s because we should be moving around. Even if you can’t do very much now, something is better than nothing. If walking for 2 minutes makes you feel winded, then start trying to walk for 3 minutes. Walk with some weights. Start trying to stretch. Try to do 5 push-ups on your knees. Try to do 2 push-ups on your knees. Take up yoga with some free youtube videos. (I can not say enough good things about yoga, and I will plug it as much as possible without apology) Park in the back of the parking lot and walk to the door.
The point is to get up and get moving, and to quit thinking of exercise as punishment and see it for what it is. Exercise is a reward. It is love. It is taking care of your body so that the two of you will be happily together for a long time. Find the time, or create a routine that allows you to move around and keep the excuses on the shelf. Do the math. Subtract the negative mindset, and add some movement to your day. (See what I did there?)