About four or five years ago, I traveled to Texas for business and extended my trip to visit a dear friend. It was 4th of July weekend. I had both of my kids with me and we had a great trip and even better visit. When I returned home I was looking at the photos we took, when I noticed something shocking. I saw pictures of myself… over weight. This was a tipping point for me. I immediately put a plan into action and a few months later joined my first Zumba class. It took about 6 months but I lost about 45 pounds and felt amazing. While my initial goal was shedding some poundage, my overall goal was to become more active and get healthy. This new lifestyle choice led me to becoming a Zumba instructor, something I never imagined for myself. Here are a few tips to my success:
- Have a Plan. Know why you want to get more active, if you don’t know why it will be really difficult to motivate yourself to exercise.
- Find a Buddy. Studies show that people who have a friend or partner to exercise with are more successful long term. Generally, we don’t like to go it alone, so having someone to hold you accountable will put the statistics in your favor.
- Set Goals. It’s important to set short term and long term goals for yourself. Set them weekly and monthly, celebrate your successes. Goals help you measure your success. Oh, remember to tell people who will help support you. It’s too easy to cheat, so tell someone what your goals are and give them permission to hold you accountable.
- Be Forgiving. Making any change in your life is difficult enough without being too critical. Know that you will fall off the wagon, so to speak. Give yourself permission to mess up from time to time, but don’t quit! Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. New habits take time, keep working at it.
- Consistency is Key. Make exercise part of your daily routine. According to your plan, if you want to be active 3 days a week for 30 minutes, then do it. Even if you don’t make it to the gym, go for a walk in your neighborhood, play with your kids, or play with your dog. It is important that you do something to get your heart rate up and keep it there for about 20 minutes.
- Have Fun. It’s your life; exercise is a simple expression of you taking care of you. Enjoy this in all aspects. You may feel that you can’t do it, if you stick with it you will be so encouraged and empowered to see that your body is capable, not to mention how great you will feel. Find an exercise routine that works for you.
- Keep it Simple. There’s no need to do a routine that is above your level when you set out on this journey. Begin simply making your exercise routine, routine. A walk around the block can lead to a jog and then full out running. But it takes time; go at your own pace, if you keep with it you will get there.
- Mix it Up. Every couple of weeks change up your routine. This allows you to use your whole body, and maximize the results. For example if you have taken a 6 week Zumba class, in the next 6 weeks take a different kind of Zumba class , Yoga, Cross Training or a practice that will use a different set of muscles.
- Practice Positive Self Talk. This is important; reinforce positivity in your routine. You will get discouraged, so speak and think positive thoughts about how far you’ve come and where you are going.
- Journal your experience. It’s true, when we journal our exercise habits, our food habits we are likely to do better. I’m not really sure why this is, maybe when it’s in writing it becomes more real to us. Whatever the reason just do it. This is your personal journey, capture it so that you can go back and see where you were and how far you’ve come!
I’ve included a couple of great articles to also help you get started. If you are tired of being tired, then get out and become more active. Our bodies crave it! Once you do you will feel so much better. A word of caution, if you are unconditioned it may be a good idea to check with your doctor or health care provider to help them develop a plan that is right for you. Good luck, you can do it!
15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It) By Scott H Young
The Benefits of Physical Activity By Harvard School of Public Health