This is the time of year many people resolve to exercise and lose weight. About a month from now is when many give up on that resolution. Losing weight isn't easy- if it was, no one would be overweight. It doesn't have to be torture though. Your number one weapon against weight gain is exercise. I started working out regularly when I was 18, and within only a few months it had become a habit. You have to stick with it long enough and make exercise a regular part of your routine. Your body comes to expect it, even begins preparing for your workout before you actually start. The human body was meant to move, and allowing your body to do what comes naturally just feels so good! Of course you have to pick exercises that you enjoy. If you hate the water, swimming probably isn't your best choice of activities. You also need to base your routine on your own limitations. If you're just starting out, start slowly and ease into it. If you try to run 10 miles the first time you lace up your sneakers, you'll be too sore to work out again for a month! I work out at home and have built up my home gym with my favorite equipment over the years. The elliptical is my "go to" machine- I can get an excellent workout without putting too much stress on my knee, which I have issues with. I also have dumbbells, exercise bands, a hula hoop (now THAT is a fun workout!), a mini trampoline, and lots of DVDs. Weight training is a very important part of any exercise regimen. The fact is, muscle burns more calories than fat. And becoming stronger helps in your everyday activities. Picking up your child becomes much easier, lugging all those groceries in from the car no longer seems as difficult. And I don't know about you other women out there, but I LIKE being able to do things for myself, and not having to call a man to help me all the time.
Even with nothing more than a pair of decent sneakers, you can still get a good workout. Walking and jogging are excellent cardio options and can burn hundreds of calories (depending, of course, on intensity and duration of your workout). The one thing I can't do without is my music. Find songs that get you revved up and put a big smile on your face, music that makes you want to move. Load your iPod with upbeat songs that you love and that hour long workout will fly by. Lately I've been listening to The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. As soon as I hear the first notes of certain songs, my hear rate automatically increases, and I get a spring in my step. Sometimes I have to stop myself from running (rather than walking briskly) so I don't injure my knee. Music has a profound effect on mood- use that to your advantage.
And then there's diet. Personally, I keep it fairly simple- anything in moderation. I like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, all of which are very important in a balanced diet. Choose lean sources of protein like chicken, fish, pork, and turkey whenever possible. Try to eat as much fresh food as possible- fill up on the salad and you won't have as much room for that 800 calorie dessert! An excellent way of getting exercise and eating healthier is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Gardening is great exercise and nothing tastes better than fresh food you grew yourself!
These are just a few basic tips, but I did want to share some of my own experience with what works for me. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, I've just been working out and trying to eat healthy for the last 17 years. I've learned a few things along the way and wanted to pass my (hard won!) knowledge along. I plan to write more health and fitness blogs this year, so stay tuned!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters