Weight Loss: Easing Into Exercise

Okay, let’s just accept the fact that if you want to lose weight, be healthy, or both, you need to get some sort of exercise program going. This has been proven over and over again. Yes, you CAN lose some weight without exercise, but your health will not improve, and you may find you have created some new problems if all you do is alter your diet in order to lose weight. Also, trying to lose weight without changing the way you have lived your life will prove the old adage to be true:

“Keep doing what you’ve been doing and you will keep getting what you have been getting.”

So, to set about changing what “you have been getting” out of life, at least in terms of health, fitness, and weight loss, you will need to get into some sort of exercise program.

THE PROBLEMS

There are a few problems that people encounter when they start exercising…particularly if they have not been exercising for a while or even worse, are beginning an exercise program for the first time.

1. They have trouble finding the time to exercise.

2. They have difficulty making exercise a habit

3. They are dissatisfied with the results of their exercise program.

4. They injure themselves.

SOME SOLUTIONS

1. Many people find that until exercise becomes an integral part of their life, it is difficult to “find the time” to exercise. There are two points here.

Engage In Opportunistic Exercise

This is the sort of exercise that can be factored into each day’s activities. While parking a few feet farther from the store can be a great way to introduce some physical activity into your daily life, one such event once in a while will not make a great difference. On the other hand, it IS a start, and one of the hardest hurdles to overcome is actually STARTING some sort of exercise program. Putting several of these events into your week, parking farther away, taking the stairs, carrying the groceries in from the car, standing up during phone calls, or walking in place while watching TV, for example can get you started on the road to feeling better, looking better, and better health.

Make A Commitment To Exercise

There is an old saying that work will expand to take up the resources committed to it. In other words, if a business is doing perfectly well with one phone and a combination fax/copier and then gets several multi-line phones and a high-speed copier, the employees will soon find they “cannot get along” without these additions. Our lives are similar. In our example, if the boss finds a need to cut costs, the employees will soon find that they CAN function without the high-speed copier, just like they did before.

In our lives, if we make a commitment to exercise, we will be able to “make” the time available, probably by changing something in our lives, but the bottom line will be how important the exercise is to us.

2. For most of us, one of the hardest aspects of this whole exercise thing is making it a habit. If it is not a habit, we will probably start “forgetting” or “having something else to do” and the exercise will eventually fade into the background and be forgotten.

It will be even harder to make something distasteful or time-consuming into a habit. A good tip here is to begin small and concentrate on getting used to the exercise as a regular part of your daily routine before you worry too much about all the other aspects. In other words, start with something simple that you can easily insert into your life, something that will be easy to remember to do regularly. Once the exercise IS a habit, you can expand it and you will soon find that you begin to get uncomfortable if you miss it.

A good point here is that the benefits of regular exercise express themselves in many ways, and if you move from being a non-exerciser to a regular exerciser, you will actually begin to enjoy your exercise experiences.

3. Unrealistic expectations plague many who try to begin an exercise program. The reality is that even the finest exercise program will take time to become fully effective and even then the intensity and breadth should increase and the weight decrease at a measured pace. Added to this is the fact most people do not really know how exercise works and what to expect. If you are starting slow as I advise and gradually increasing your effort, gains in fitness will be slow. Weight loss will also be slow, but, over time, a good exercise program will help your weight loss program, your overall health, your mental outlook, and provide defense against many conditions and illnesses.

NOTE: If you are beginning an exercise program as part of a weight loss program, don’t be surprised if you gain weight for a while. This is normal. Ignore your scale and concentrate on how you feel and how your clothes fit. Even though you may be gaining weight, you might actually be shrinking as lean tissue replaces fat.

4. Related to the item above is the potential for injury. Unrealistic expectations occur because of ignorance and lack of experience. The same is true for injuries. People either try to do too much too soon, or simply perform exercises improperly or with the wrong equipment. A good brisk walk can feel good from the first day of your new exercise program, but not if you walk too far, too fast, too soon, or wear the wrong kind of shoes.

Remember, how much you CAN do is not necessarily how much you SHOULD do.

I have a friend who has started exercise programs several times since I have known her. Every time, she tries to start out doing as much as she can. Later she begins to feel sick because she is in poor condition, and then feels washed out and experiences pain over the next few days. That’s the end of her exercise program until the bug hits her again a few months later.

Start slow, build up slowly, but keep on doing it and you will reap the rewards of a regular exercise program.