Archive for May, 2010

Head Over Heels Originally uploaded by Ryan Brenizer

Recently I’ve begun exercising again. I like to exercise because my body feels stronger and more limber after a workout. But like many people, after a long day of work the idea of a workout can be overwhelming.

For me exercise is hard to stick with because if it becomes too boring, repetitive or even just too hard, I tend to skip it. Once you skip one session, then you skip another and another and before you know it a month has gone by and you haven’t done anything.

Luckily, this time I had a real excuse. I got a severe sinus infection that caused me to be sick for several weeks.  The first week was a killer with fever, headache, sneezing, and my lingering symptom – coughing.  Unfortunately my cough lasted for an additional 3 weeks. I couldn’t work out without having a serious coughing fit for almost a month.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m energized and ready to make my body stronger than ever. Evidence shows that a fit body has a better immune system than a couch potato, so I hope to help fend off any more future infections before they start.

Here are a few tips and ideas I use to stay motivated and interested in my workout.

Don’t pay attention to the scale. This can be a trap. For instance I worked out for a month, and only lost 10 pounds. I felt bad at first like I should have lost more, but then I realized that in the first month it was more important to work out every day and be consistent, that it was to lose weight. And I wasn’t dieting. I was eating the same things as before. Sure I could lose it faster if I dieted, but sticking to a daily workout is my main weakness, not my diet.

Add some variety – watch TV infomercials. One easy way to add new moves to your workout routine is to watch exercise infomercials. You can record them on your DVR and play them at your convenience. Try a few of the moves and see if you like them. You can try 3 or 4 moves from each ½ hour spot and make up an entire 30-minute routine of new moves. For me this also inspired me to buy some new DVDs which gave me some fun new dance workouts that I really enjoy.

Start with 10 minutes. Sometimes I would skip a workout because I felt like I didn’t enough energy or time for a 30 minute workout. Now I tell myself to just do 10 minutes. I figure doing a little is better than doing none. To my surprise, I often start feeling those exercise endorphins and get a rush of energy that lets me keep going for the entire 30 minutes – or even longer!

If you fall, get back up again. I used to think that if I could barely keep up with the workout or if I stumbled through the moves that I should just give up. Surely if I can only do a quarter of a routine, I might as well quit? But I was tired of not fitting into my clothes, and sometimes aches and pains would keep me up at night. Once I stuck with the routine for a solid week, I learned the moves better and didn’t stumble or fall. Even if I still couldn’t complete the routine, I could do more than the first day. Also, watching infomercial workouts gave me the inspiration of knowing there were others who were able to overcome the same obstacles and succeed. It was like a 30 minute pep talk.

Don’t overdo it. Sometimes when you’re out-of-shape you feel the urge to push through the pain and do more. We’ve grown up hearing “no pain – no gain.” And sometimes we foolishly believe it. But when you feel pain, enough to where you want to stop, it’s a signal telling you to quit doing that. Switch areas. If you arms hurt, start doing leg lifts. If your knees ache, try a sit-up or some arm punches. Don’t let pain stop you from working out. Instead stop the pain and try moving something that doesn’t hurt.

Have Fun. This tip is the best advice, but most overlooked. Workouts may never be easy. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable. Try imagining all your stress leaving through each kick. When you punch, imagine knocking out your troubles and pummeling them into submission. Put on lively music and time your punches to match the beat. Vary your workout routine until find several that you like the best. For instance I don’t like Pilates very much, but I enjoy Yoga and stretching. Also, I alternate dance workouts with weight lifting and cardio routines.

And remember to make good health your number one goal. Weight loss is great, but remembers to look at the overall picture.

Here a few overlooked benefits of exercise:

  • Better sleep.
  • Groceries are easier to carry.
  • Warms you up when you’re cold. Better than a blanket.
  • Improves blood flow. May get rid of cold hands and feet.
  • Increases oxygen. Fuels your brain. (Seriously trying working on something complicated an hour after you workout. You’ll have better concentration.)
  • Gets rid of aches and pains. (Sure you may be sore from time to time, but nagging muscle aches and a sore back often go away after just a week or two of working out.)
  • Releases stress and tension. Exercise endorphins release feel-good chemicals that lift your mood while you develop your body.

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