[Once again, please do not take what Cheryl says as professional advice. Your personal physician person's advice should always trump whatever Cheryl has to say about anything related to weight loss. Why? Because it just makes sense. And I won't be held liable if you ignore your doctor. That is all.]
Yep! Exercise! Unfortunately, you can't skip the food part and run over here to exercise expecting to lose weight. 80% of what you do has to be food. 20% of it is exercise. Put 'em together and whaddya get? A fab bod you want to continue to take care of, my friend. 100% of pure joy! Or somethin' like that anyway...
"But Cheryl!" you whine, "I don't know what to do for exercise! What do I do!?"
Luckily, there are a lot of options for a lot of situations. And it's a good thing, too, because we're not as lucky as those who came before us. Back in the day, you just lived your life on the farm/ranch and that's how you got your exercise. You worked. Hard. There was no sitting in front of the television or driving to school. But now? We've got blogging and TV; cars and telephones. Then there's grocery stores and cubicles. We have to exercise, people. We don't really have a choice, you know. It's either become a professional athlete or farm. I'm sure there might be other professions that will get you out and about, but we can't all be professional spelunkers. Most of us are SAHM's, or working mothers who sit down all day.
Before I get into these options, though, let's talk about what exercise can do for us. First, it burns fat. Well, sign me up! Anybody else got some extra fat encasing their bodies? Second, it gets our oxygen flowing and our blood pumping. This is good for many reasons:
- It increases your heart rate; so good for the heart! The heart is a muscle and it wants to be worked. Not over-worked, mind you, but just worked. No need to push it to heart attack levels!
- It spreads those awesome endorphins. You know how you feel AFTER you exercise? Yes! It's awesome! The energy, the positive energy, flowing through your body --it feels great! But it's the starting and getting through it that gives us the trouble...
- Your oxygen intake and lung capacity increases. No, serious! I'm not sure if this is professionally "correct" info, but take it from this woman with exercise/allergy-induced asthma. The more I exercise, the better I breathe --even when I'm done exercising. It seriously helps my lungs!
- My Cardiologist (when I had a cardiologist --I know, it sounds weird. Someday I'll tell you all about my former heart problems. Just know they are "former"!) told me that if every person would just walk outside for 45 minutes, four days a week, all diseases like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, etc. would no longer be epidemics. People would literally live longer and healthier lives. And he would be out of a job.
Now, third, exercise (the weight training kind) will help increase bone and muscle mass, which is so important if you are a woman. Very important. Have you seen those commercials for osteoporosis meds? Weight training will help prevent osteoporosis, and that is so important for a woman to know! We are the prime candidates for bone loss (and heart disease, btw). And finally, fourth, exercise (cardio and weight training) will give you an amazing body! For example, I was weight training for about three months while I was living in California. (Lanette was our awesome instructor, btw). I only lost 3 pounds one of those months, but I dropped an entire dress size. Let me repeat that: I lost 3 pounds, but dropped an entire dress size! One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same (duh), but one pound of muscle looks so much better because it's so dense. Imagine a pound of popcorn. Now imagine a pound of kernels. Which one would you rather have under your skin? Exactly.
Okay, so exercise is great. We know it's important. So, let's go back to the question: What can we do? What can we realistically do to get exercise into our lives? Here are some ideas:
- Walk. Put on your shoes, and go out the door. You could walk for 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. Push yourself and walk for an hour! You can do one mile, two miles, or 6 miles. Go with your headset on or walk with a friend. Go at 6AM, 9AM, or on your lunch break. Go at 4PM, after dinner, or 9PM. Just GO.
- Run. Same as walking, except more intense. Train for a 5K, 10K, or a marathon! Or just run for fun. Slow jogging is just as good for you as fast running (well, you might have to slow jog longer). Just make sure you have some good shoes that fit correctly.
- Ride a Bike. Same as walking and running, but you can go further. Ride to work, ride with the kids, ride for the pleasure.
- Treadmill/Stationary Bike/Elliptical Machine: If you have one, take the clothes off of it, and use it. Put it in a room where you will actually use it. Put a TV in front of it, talk on the phone while you use it, listen to music while using it. Start off with 20 minutes a day and raise it until you're doing an hour a day. Can't stomach getting up early? Do it during nap time. Can't stomach doing it while the children are around? Do it when they go to bed. Just make the time!
- Join a gym. You could join a huge chain, or something small, like Curves. You can sign up for classes, or just use the machines. Stop there on your way to work. Go at 6AM. Stop there on your way home from work (my mom goes to Curves after she's done teaching school for the day). Go at midnight. Big plus with the gyms? You can do cardio and weight training at the same place, and they have all the equipment. Plus showers. If you like to shower with strangers. Which, hey, if that's your thing, then...ummm...whatever...
- DVD's and Videos: I have used these and they can be good. Our X-Box has a program that basically gives you a personal trainer. She takes you through differing workouts based on your needs. It's pretty cool! (I should start using it again) Use videos like Kick-boxing, Tae-Bo (remember those?), aerobics, step-aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, etc. etc. There is nothing wrong with using these. If they get you off the couch and into a sweat, then do it! There are some great weigh training videos out there you can find; and if you don't have hand weights? Use canned goods! I know some of you have food storage out there. Also, I know some TV stations have aerobics on their programming (PBS, perhaps?). Find one!
- Dance Classes. Who says you have to exercise only by what's deemed "exercise"? Go dancing! Sign up for Ballroom, hip-hop, tap, or jazz. A friend of mine does Jazzercise.
- Sports. Sign up with an adult league in your area. Basketball, Soccer, Baseball/Softball, Volleyball, Football, Ultimate Frisbee, etc. There's got to be something, somewhere. Go re-live high school or do something you've always wanted to do! Not only will the exercise be good for you, but you'll meet new people and have fun!
- Hiking. Goes with walking/running. Perhaps it won't work for an everyday thing, but it might be good for weekends.
- Baby Boot Camp. My awesome friend, Lindsay, not only plays in an adult soccer league, but she also does Baby Boot Camp. That girl was so healthy! These classes are intense, but the good news? Baby gets to come!
Please remember, though, that the best work-outs include cardio and weight training. I used to think that I could just run everyday and I'd be fine. But I have found out (by weight training) that you need both. You absolutely need both! One way would be to run 3 times a week and weight train 2 times a week. And also, please remember to warm up and cool down. It sounds lame, but your body needs it! It really does. It needs to build up warm muscles before you work them hard, and it needs you to stretch them after you've worked them hard. If you want more info about this, please read here and here.
Now, what about the excuses? Trust you me, I know what those include. I know, because I have used them all. Every. Single. One. (Too tired, too old, too sad, too happy, too busy, too depressed, too fat, too skinny, too apathetic, too short, too tall, too poor, too lonely, too forgetful). And I'm actually using them now. That's right, the move has thrown off my groove, and I no longer have the self-motivation (other than the intense longing to get out and do it). So today, I recommitted myself to start again. I'm going to get going. What about you? Will you get going? And if you do, How? What? When? and Where?
P.S. That wasn't rhetorical, dear reader. Seriously, will you get going? And if you do, How/What/When/Where? Tell me about it! Give me all your info and your ideas. What has worked for you in the past? What works for you now? In the future?