Have you ever noticed when you are exercising regularly, you keep track of it, you count the days you do it, you look for progress, you tell everyone about it, time drags and then . . . a couple weeks slip by and you realize you haven’t done anything. Man, did the time away from it go quickly. For me, it seemed a few years went by without too much activity . . . Come on, I’m not the only one who’s like this, right?? I have figured out, life is all about getting on and off the wagon, and when it comes to me and regular exercise, I’ve spent much more time around the campfire roasting marshmallows than being on the fitness wagon.
It’s not always easy to start and maintain an exercise routine. I can remember back in the day when I would put on my shiny spandex with leg warmers (a very important accompaniment) and head to the gym for a step aerobics class. That lasted a week or so because while I looked fab, it really was hard work. I tried jogging for a few days and then realized I got really winded, which wasn’t very fun. I even tried Zumba, just last year. I felt a little like a paloomba . . . but oh, well, at least I tried. Well, that’s fine for who I was, but now I’m 45 and it’s time to get serious about this. To start me on a better track this time, I decided to reach out to a professional for advice. Molly Galbraith is a strength coach and personal trainer with Girls Gone Strong. She is also featured in the Journey into Wellbeing’s pilot episode.
DK: What are the benefits of starting a simple fitness routine?
- Improves mood and outlook: The hormones produced during exercise have been shown to improve mood, which can lead to other great things—when you’re happier and more at ease, then other challenges seem easier. Doing something healthy for your body gives you a sense of accomplishment that you did something good for you.
- Better sleep: Because you are expending additional energy during the day, there’s a good chance you’re going to sleep better.
- Lose body fat and gain muscle: Even in untrained individuals, you can gain muscle with simple exercises like walking and yoga. Starting a simple walking routine can stimulate body fat loss and improve body composition.
What Molly said really resonates with me. Since moving to the warmer climate in Florida, I have maintained a walking routine for just over a year. Prior to moving, things had been incredibly stressful and I had gained about 25 pounds in a year. Walking and some dietary changes helped me to drop 20 of those pretty quickly. I hadn’t thought much about my walking adding muscle, but one day as I was doing a Pilates class at the Heartland Spa near Chicago, I happened to see the back of my legs in the mirror during a stretch and I’ll be darned . . . I had some serious muscle back there. I had no idea, but it was inspiring.
DK: Sometimes the hardest part of starting a fitness routine is just getting out the door. What would you say to encourage people when they’re wavering about just doing it?
1. Have your stuff ready to go at all times. When the thought first crosses your mind that you will exercise tomorrow, go ahead and get everything out and ready so not only will it serve as a reminder, but you won’t have the excuse of running out of time.
2. Once you get there, you never regret going, but if you don’t go you might regret it. It isn’t very often that people beat themselves up for working out.
3. Put it in your schedule like a meeting, set an alert which allows time to – treat it like a non-negotiable.
DK: For someone who has not been very active for a while, what are three tips you would offer to get them started?
1. Get cleared by your doctor and then seek out a professional. View this endeavor as you would anything else you are not trained in such as plumbing or accounting. Find someone who is trained well in what you hope to accomplish and have them help you get started.
2. Start slowly and be kind to yourself. You can always progress and make your routine more difficult. I call this the minimal effective dosage, which means you CAN get results with less effort. If you start and decide you have to work out like crazy, most likely you will end up sore, injured and more motivated to quit.
3. Find something you will be willing to stick to. If you jump into your new activity and set goals of working out 6 days each week for an hour each time, this might be too much too soon. Start softer and celebrate the small successes. These will keep you motivated and excited.
Whew, her second point rang true for me too. I recently bought an online deal for some circuit training classes, so without any prep, decided to jump right in. The competitor in me had to do it all, of course. After that class I couldn’t walk without the neighbors hearing my screams of agony. Not only did I lose out on walking for a few days, but I never went back.
Thanks for the tips Molly, I think I’m going to give something new a try—won’t you join me?