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New Years is approaching! And with New Years often comes resolutions. One of the most common, if not the most common, resolutions is to lose weight and/or get in shape. Gym memberships go up. Time Magazine reported, “60% of gym memberships go unused and attendance is usually back to normal by mid-February.”
So how can you take this goal of losing weight and/or getting in shape (no matter what time of year it is) and make it a goal you meet? I have some ideas for you. But before you go on, I end referring to this article. I think it is so good, I don’t want you to miss it. If you get bored and stop reading, make sure you still go on to this article here: 5 Reasons Running May Not Help You Lose Weight.
Let me start by saying I am not the portrait of perfection when it comes to being in shape. I will tell you what I am, though. I am a mom. I am a mom who exercises every day but Sunday. I am a mom who has been exercising regularly like this for about four years. Before that, I was a hit and miss type. But four years ago I got serious and I got consistent. Before I got pregnant with Brinley, I was in pretty good shape. I am still working to get back to that post-Brinley. Over the past four years, I have learned some important things about exercising that I think should be common knowledge but for some reason aren’t. So here are my tips to get you going.
1-Make it about being healthy.
Don’t make your daily exercising about losing weight. Don’t! It is about so much more than that. Exercise is good for you, whether you are losing weight or not. I have had months go by where I lost not a pound. Not a single pound. I kept going. And after some time, weight started to come off again. If I exercised in order to lose weight, I would have stopped long long ago. And I would have missed out on a lot. Make exercise about making your body healthier, not fewer pounds.
2-If you are just starting, expect it to suck.
Quite frankly, when you first make exercise a regular part of your life, it sucks for a long time! It hurts. It is hard. But you will get stronger as you persevere. It will come. After I had Brinley, I had to build up a lot of my endurance again because I couldn’t be as intense while pregnant (some people can, I couldn’t). It didn’t suck as much, so that is the good news (for more on exercising while pregnant, see this post).
You might have friends who are exercising people who will say, “After a few times, you will be addicted and love it!” I have those friends. That is not what my reality was. I hated it for a long time. I dreaded getting up the next morning and exercising.
Even this last summer, I started running with a friend. We ran MWF mornings. I dreaded it each Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night for a couple of months. Then a switch hit and I loved it. That love and addiction will come. You will at the very least move out of dread and into “this is normal life.” But it might take time. And that is okay.
3-Make time for it.
You have to find a time that you will be consistent about exercising. I don’t know what that looks like for you. I have written about this extensively in my post How I Do it: Exercise. Make it part of your daily routine–as much as getting dressed. Consistency is so important to meeting any goal you have in association with exercising, and so important to getting yourself to the point of tolerating it.
4-Be aware of fat vs. muscle.
We have all heard “fat weighs more than muscle.” I remember hearing that when I was a teenager and thinking, “well I don’t want muscle then!” But here is a visual.
That is five pounds of fat versus five pounds of muscle. This is why you can not lose weight but can still look better and better over time. As you are building muscle, you might be adding weight to your body but you are removing volume. Be aware of this so as you are exercising and not noticing any difference, you can keep going!
You will be able to keep going if you are aware of what “before” was. Weigh yourself. Take measurements. Take photos. Whatever works for you, get that before documented so in six months when you feel like nothing has changed, you will have a quantifiable way to see it actually has.
6-Figure out what works for you.
I have one friend who says the only way he can lose weight is to limit his calories. No amount of exercise matters–the calories matter. I have another friend who says the only way she can ever lose weight is by running. Get to know your body and what works for your body. How much cardio do you need? How much strength training? How many calories can you eat?
I have personally noticed that I lose weight best when I am doing at least 45 minutes of cardio a few times a week along with some strength training the other days of the week. I can’t just do cardio. My cardio has to be a certain length of time.
If I count calories, I can lose weight, but I hate it. When I am doing the exercise I listed above, I more naturally eat the right amount of calories.
7-Drink lots of water.
Seriously such a simple and common piece of advice. Just do it.
8-Switch up exercises.
I hear this often enough I assume everyone knows this, but I am sure some haven’t heard yet. You can’t do the same thing day after day and continue to lose weight. You need to change things so it requires different things of your body. You can find lots of ideas on the internet. I have some on my Exercise board on Pinterest.
9-Burn some fissures.
A few months ago, I read this article that I think explained basic exercise in such a simple, perfect way. Everyone should know this. Read it. It will enlighten you. This is why trainers say that when it hurts is when it matters most. That is when you need to push through a little further. When you push, your muscles tear a bit creating fissures. Then your body burns more calories to repair those fissures and build new muscle. More muscle equals more calories burned day after day. Seriously read that article.
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