I am sure there are people who want to become more active to enhance their health. Perhaps their doctor told them they need to achieve a healthy weight, eat right, quit smoking or start exercising. What if this person is no spring chicken and has never incorporated exercise into their daily living? What if this person was an avid runner, swimmer, dancer, etc in college, but over the years, ailments, work, stress and family obligations prevented them from being the active person they once were? Although oh so necessary, not everyone has made fitness a lifestyle habit throughout their years. The important place is acknowledging that movement is a vital part of living a healthy life. There is no magic pill or formula to help you achieve this. But where to start? How do you go from couch potato to fitness lover? It may sound drastic, but it really needn’t be. Here are a few tips to slowly segue on the road to becoming a healthier, fitter you for the first time or once again in your life.
- Take a good look. Look at your general lifestyle. Do you smoke? What steps can you make to quit? Who can help you stop? A doctor, a partner, a friend or family member? I know when I wanted to become fitter and feel better, I had to evaluate my life and face the things that were not going to help me achieve this goal. I was eating far too much refined sugars and indulging in too much alcohol. I had to come up with a plan to cut back on these things that I enjoyed, and acknowledge that excess in these indulgences did me no favours.
- Write it and believe it. I found buying a journal and writing down what I needed to do in concrete sentences very helpful. By concrete I ensured no wiggle room to negotiate. For example, some of my written goals said, I will have no more than three glasses of wine this week. I will only have one sweet treat this week. I will eat two servings of vegetables each day. By writing these things in black and white, I was able to read and re-read, thus affirming my goals and bringing them to fruition.
- Tell them all about it! Let your friends and family know your plans. They may be able to help you with accountability. Only share with those who you know will encourage and support you.
- Take baby steps. Look at a wee baby. They don’t get out of their mother’s womb and start immediately walking and talking. Infants progress through stages of development and crucial milestones. Look at your health plan in the same way; in stages. Try not to do it all at once. Remember the “Rome wasn’t built in a Day” philosophy. You may need to focus on one goal at a time. Perhaps you need to get more sleep before you can focus on your diet or quitting smoking. From here once you succeed in one area of your life, you may have the momentum and motivation to work on the next goal. Take the same approach to your diet. Skip the fries with your burger and have a green salad instead. You will soon start to feel the benefits and reap the rewards of making these choices.
- Again, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Remember this statement when introducing exercise back into your life or just starting out. Do little things each day to work your body into welcoming movement in a healthy way. Start with a five minute walk around the block. Wake up an extra ten minutes to enjoy a full body stretch. Always wanted to learn to swim or Salsa dance? Look into your local community centre and see what kind of classes they offer. Try some basic strength training moves. Squatting in a chair 5 times, 10 wall push-ups, etc. There are a plethora of YouTube videos for beginners. As you increase your strength and stamina, inquire with a local gym and personal trainer to help you. You never know what kind of class and equipment you will fall in love with. I started out with Zumba to shed the pounds, now I love bootcamp and strength training.
- And lastly, have fun! Working out doesn’t have to be tiring and boring. You could got to the gym with a friend or have them over at your house if that works. Don’t forget that there’s a bunch of apps that you can download on your device to make your workout more fun and enjoyable. For example, the Kickstarter project Stealth is the first of its kind and it allows you to combine exercising and gaming into one. Don’t assume that workouts have to be about pushing yourself to the limit. Sometimes, you just need to add a little ‘fun’ in your routine to keep that motivation up.
You don’t have to make things complicated. Talk to your health professional first to get the green light to start any exercise program and go from there. I know in this world of over-whelming workouts, “detoxes to shed fat”, magic pills and eating plans galore, it can just seem so confusing and frustrating. Do what you love and do what is right for YOU. Just make sure that you are active, and doing things to benefit your life and health. It is never, ever too late to start again or for the very first time.
To your health!