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Friday, December 31, 2010

Lifestyle: Resolutions Pt. 2 - Exercise!

Earlier this week I blogged about the most popular New Years Resolution...losing weight. A resolution that is perhaps intrinsically linked to that is implementing an exercise regimen. So many people start the year with a desire to get fit, to improve their health and wellness, but with work and family and other commitments, it's just as easy to let this one go by the wayside as the diet. Often, the two go hand in hand.

So how do you keep from giving up on exercise? Unfortunately, there isn't a simple, easy, one-size-fits-all answer. Getting more exercise is difficult in this day and age for the same reason that eating healthfully is difficult; our lifestyles aren't conducive to it. In fact, the only thing that the American lifestyle seems to comfortably support is spending too much time sedentary, and eating high calorie, nutritionally poor foods.

It's obvious why we are currently in the throes of a obesity epidemic, isn't it? But a sedentary lifestyle, while it affects weight, has far more adverse affects on your overall health and wellness.
Those who do not get some form of exercise at least three times per week are much more likely to develop a whole gamut of diseases...and while this is an arguably well-known fact, we are still loathe to hit the gym. It boils down to a personal motivation and commitment. You have to work with your own style to stick with it, and to accomplish anything.

The good news is this: exercise is self motivating. Sure, at first it's tough. But the more that you exercise, the better you feel...and that's just the beginning. I have a few tips from my personal experience about regular exercise...what worked for me might not work for you, but hey, it's something!

1. Start with a routine that is feasible for your every day life.

If you come out of the gate doing a super intense calorie burning workout seven days a week, you aren't likely to keep it up. Once you've neglected it a day or two in a row, you will be far less likely to return to it. So take a good hard look at your schedule and figure out a routine that you can fit in.

2. Push past your comfort zone, but don't embarrass yourself.


None of us like returning to the gym after years of sedentary lifestyle. You huff and puff after small amounts of exercise and it feels like every eye in the room is on you, and who likes that? If a gym is the most convenient and motivating way to get your daily exercise, then join one...but check it out first. Are there a lot of people there who are like you? Will you feel comfortable and safe? Will you be happier in a class with many others, or doing a weight circuit or elliptical machine on your own? If a gym doesn't work for you, consider an exercise video (but be sure to do your research first!). If you are embarrassed, you wont go back. So put some thought into where you work out and what your routine will be.

3. Make sure that you are building muscle, not just burning calories.


Burning calories and getting your blood pumping is awesome. It feels great, and it can help you drop some serious pounds. But just as important as getting your heart rate is building lean muscle. Muscle will burn fat...even when you are resting. Plus, that tone will make you look and feel better on a day-to-day basis. A few sessions with a personal trainer can show you some great ways to burn muscle, or if you can't afford that, find a gym with a weight circuit that you can do yourself. Just don't overdo it! Your muscles need time to heal and build back up between workouts!

4. Get adequate sleep.


Now, this may seem like it doesn't belong with the other tips, however, sleep is something our culture lacks right now...and without it, workouts can be a real drag. Doctors recommend 8 hours of sleep a night...if that isn't doable, consider making some changes to your routine, but at least try to get as close to that 8 hour mark as possible. Your body needs that rest to rebuild itself after tough workouts, and you'll feel miles better for it!

When it comes down to it, the only person that can make you get into a workout routine is you, yourself. Don't let yourself make excuses and don't talk yourself out of it...your body will thank you, and you'll feel great. After the first few months, the routine will seem like something you can't really live without...and why would you?

Here's to a year of lifestyle changes or...resolutions, kept.

The Calm Cook

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