Follow Us

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Part II: Exercise Planning

                 I’m going to start this post with some familiar words;



Being the first of the year approaching, you are going to be blasted from every direction about the one and only exercise plan to get you the body of your dreams. Well it all sounds great but the truth is, one size does not fit all. And a really deeper truth is that you are more awesome than you realize right now! Because you are caught up in your outer packaging you probably don’t see that. I know how it is because I speak from experience. I was so focused on the goal of weight loss that I didn’t even focus on the way I felt or the extra energy I had etc. I only felt accomplishment or disgust based on the all powerful number on the scale. And when that number went up, I gave up.
So what is different for me this time? 

A change in focus.

It really was a mind shift. Change your mind, change your body. Now I don’t want to mislead you and say that every day, every hour and every second I have this mind and body thing figured out, because that would be a load of bull. But I can say that more often than not, I feel really good about myself. You can ask my husband and he’ll tell you that he hears a lot of comments from me about my level of hotness.
In the past I would approach exercise with an all or nothing mentality. I started hard and when I crashed and burned I did that hard as well. Then I often dealt with injury or over training. That led me to feel like a failure and there we have that self-fulfilling prophecy.  Also in the past I was stuck in the cardio hamster wheel. I thought that you had to run or step or bike or jump around for at least an hour but maybe more if you were really serious. I thought you had to punish yourself. I believed in the no pain no gain mentality. After all, I let myself get to the overweight point so I deserved to suffer right? And once again the self-fulfilling prophecy occurred because really who can keep up that punishment/pain cycle. You don’t like being punished and so you avoid it and once again failure. 

So what did I do differently this time? 

It had been a couple years since my last real attempt at exercise and in that time I had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. That diagnosis clicked something in my brain and I actually thought that maybe I should slow down and treat my body like it was about to break. Running distance was out the window for me so I thought about Yoga. I’d actually loved Yoga in the past and always came away feeling refreshed and centered. Wow, what a novel idea! Actually doing something you loved that made you feel good. Hmm. That was new. So I faithfully did Yoga three times a week for about 6 months. You know what happened? I enjoyed it and got stronger and had less pain and actually felt good about myself. I regained some range of motion I had lost with the running. (Not trying to pick on running. I once loved it.) Then I started thinking about further strengthening my muscles. Weight lifting was not new to me so I started out slowly doing some lifting and continuing with Yoga. After several months I added 10 minute finishers to the mix and BAM! Things started really happening. I had built up muscle and now I was burning off fat. It seemed like over-night work to people around me, but really I had been going at it for about 6 months.
There is something about weight training and lifting heavy things that make you feel, well strong. That might sound dumb, but especially for women, and those around 40, this is a real mind boost. I have always been strong, but until now have not felt ok with being strong. It often isn’t viewed as feminine or very acceptable in my circle or at my age. Well another little secret that I have found is that I feel more feminine and beautiful as a strong woman with muscles than I ever felt as an overweight woman. I’m a stone cold fox and those are crazy words coming from someone who couldn’t have felt farther from that just a couple of years ago. Self-esteem breeds self-compassion, motivation and dreams. So the exercise part coupled with the motivation part can be an extremely powerful combination to get started. 

Here are my suggestions for getting started with exercise:

a.       Write down 4-5 small goals to work towards in the first 2 months. How about something like this: 1. Twenty sit-ups in a row. 2. Exercise 3 days a week. 3. 10 push-ups 4. Walk 10,000 steps a day at least 4 days a week. 5. Stretch for 10 minutes 4 days a week, etc.
These are small things that for most are totally attainable. That is what you want. You want to lay down some patterns the first few months. You want to gain some victories. You want to enjoy what you do and start seeing exercise as just something that is part of your life. See yourself as someone who sets goals and reaches them. This goal setting is a step to revisit every few months so your growing fitness can grow bigger and bigger goals.
b.      Add weight training to the mix as early as you feel comfortable. As women (and especially a little more mature women) we have been duped into believing that weight training is only for men. And that women should stay on the weight machines or they will turn into big bulky scary manly meatheads. That stuff is just all lies. #1 if you want a solid shapely figure, weights are your friend. If you want to protect against osteopenia and osteoporosis, then weights are your friend. If you want to burn crazy amounts of fat and calories, then weights are your friend. And above all, you will not get bulky! I know my physique is a little more bulky than most, but my genes dictate that. I’ve always been thicker than other women. I’ve always carried more muscle mass. Most women don’t and the body builders you may have seen pictures of, work for years to get that physique and may use “products” to boost the Testosterone in their bodies to crazy levels. Trust me, the average woman cannot even come close to bulking without very concentrated effort. It is not something that just happens from picking up weights a few times a week. PLEASE LET THAT MYTH DIE!
c.       Use short finishers. A finisher is a short little cardio hit at the end of a weight training session. I added these finishers at around the 4th month into my exercise plan. They generally were 10 minutes, more or less, depending on how I felt. I like jump rope and kettlebells, so I did a lot of jumping and swinging 30 seconds and resting a minute. As I got into better shape, I cut the rest down. As I got into even better shape I cut the rest down and upped the work time. But I always kept some rest in there. Resting a little allows you to push a little harder while you are working. These finishers give your metabolism a huge hit and allow you to burn fat and calories hours after you are done. They are no joke! You do not have to run or even walk for hours to get results. Finishers are my magic. You can also do these with sprints, weights, kettlebells or body weight movements like push-ups, burpees, sit-ups. The combinations are endless.
d.      Cut yourself some slack. Have you seen this drawing about success?

There are going to be down times. You are going to flub up. So what! You are not a failure because of those. You are human and those perceived failures will teach you things to help you get to an even greater level. Get over yourself and dust your britches off and get back to work as soon as you can. Put in work and be patient. You’ll get results.

e.       Ask for help. If you have never exercised before or if you don’t know how to lift weights or jump rope or whatever, think about asking someone for a little guidance. You might want to hire a trainer for an hour to show you a few things or to set you up a training plan. You might want to talk with a friend that has experience to get some advice. It may save you time, mental energy and maybe injury if you get a little help.
f.        Put exercise as a priority. Make it happen. Obviously if you are injured or sick, rest. But if you are just feeling tired or letting excuses get in the way, stop it. Nip that in the bud. Would you skip an important medication? Go back to the motivation work you did and remind yourself why you want to be healthier. We know when we are sliding. Don’t punish yourself over it but definitely fight the urge to slack. You’ll be glad you did. After a few months of consistent work you will have built a positive habit and it will not be quite as difficult to get the workouts done.

Again, this method is not for everyone. It may be a good fit for the beginner but not the advanced athlete. Use it for what it is. A place to start. Adapt and change it to fit you.
I truly believe that exercise is good medicine. I use it like that. It allows me to live a more active life. And study after study shows us the benefits of exercise. When you get your motivation on tract, add in exercise and you’ll reap great rewards.

Last up in our three part series, nutrition!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Whatcha thinkin'?