In the spring everyone talks about getting in shape for summer. In December, between hors d’oeuvres, they talk about losing weight in the new year.
But you don’t need to wait until January, when you’re having trouble fitting into your jeans, to start exercising. Why not be proactive and get in shape for fall?
Photo Credit: Annelise Grace
You probably look your best this time of year. You’ve been more active, have a bit of color, and are rested up from a little vacay. What better time to start an exercise routine?
Make it a habit
When it comes to exercise, habit is your strongest ally. If you’re in the habit of exercising, it becomes a natural part of life, like brushing your teeth. (I’m assuming you brush your teeth regularly. If not, fill in the blank). Soon you’ll be exercising without thinking about it.
Make a decision
Decide you’re going to exercise. Period. No exceptions. When the time comes, there’s no debate, no hemming and hawing. No opportunity to bow out.
Exercise every day during the week
It’s much easier to form a habit if you don’t skip days. Allowing yourself a break only on weekends gives you a regular time of rest without interfering with your habit.
The hardest part of exercise is getting up. It’s even harder if you’re facing an hour of intense cardio and weight training. But what about a five minute run?
I trick myself into taking that first step by saying, “You only have to do a 10 minute ab routine.” Once I’m standing there with my sneakers on, it’s not that hard to persuade myself to do 15 minutes of cardio. (The cardio routine is 50 minutes, so I tell myself I’m getting off easy).
I usually end up stretching it to 20 or 25, sometimes 30. I tell myself, “just five more minutes.” Sometimes I tack on a short session of weights at the end. Once you get going, it’s easier to push yourself for just a few more minutes. After awhile the pushing gets habitual.
No matter what you end up doing,
something is always better than nothing.
Mix it up
Even the best routines can get boring. Vary your activity — type and intensity. Ideally you want to shoot for cardio 3 times/week and weight training every other day. (If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about this). Try different things — running, cycling, swimming, kick boxing.
There are a wide variety of exercise routines on DVD. Try them first at your library and read reviews on Amazon. I’ve enjoyed Beach Body DVDs, which range from straight exercise like Tony Horton’s P90X, to dance-y like Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Jam. You can often find used DVDs at a discount on Amazon.
Get the endorphin mindset
I’ve exercised a lot over the years. There’s a point in the routine where you hit your stride and exercise feels really good. Some people call it an endorphin rush. it doesn’t happen all the time, but it makes exercise worth it.
There’s disagreement over what triggers the flood of these feel good hormones. My own experience is that mindset makes all the difference. If I go into exercise thinking I can’t wait to get it over with, that I’m just going through the motions, I don’t ever get that rush. But if I think of it as a challenge, something I’m going to conquer, I’m more likely to be buoyed up by that great feeling.
Experiment. Tell yourself it will only take a couple of minutes … .
What is one good reason to start exercising today? Do it! You know you won’t regret it.