We all love to make New Year’s resolutions, don’t we? Something about that “magic” date keeps us striving to start fresh. I challenge you to make a seemingly odd resolution. This year, resolve that NEXT year you won’t make that “start exercising, eat right, dust off the treadmill, etc” promise. Why? Because starting this minute, you will make your health and fitness a priority. I’m writing about a life-long change, not a month-long attempt followed by an 11-month lapse. You see, in 2012 you will have already spent a year developing healthy habits, so you won’t need to make that empty “start taking better care of myself” vow. You CAN do this! You WILL! You MUST!
As an American Council on Exercise Certified Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, please let me give you some specifics and encouragement…
· Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and strengthens your heart.
· Weight training not only builds your muscle mass but it increases your bone density. Maybe you’re not at a point in your life where this seems important, but strong bones and muscles increase your quality of life down the road. Who doesn’t want that?
· Increasing the amount of muscle you have in your body increases the amount of calories you burn all the time. Wouldn’t you like to burn more calories even when you’re just hanging out?
· Conquering a challenging workout makes you a more confident person.
· Exercise can create endorphins which boost your mood even on the greyest winter day.
You may already know most of these things, and I could go on and on, but you get it, right? Exercising is necessary to keep you healthy, strong, and focused.
How do I start?
* Obtain clearance from your doctor if you’ve had an injury or change in health since your last visit.
* If you have a special health concern, consider hiring a personal trainer, even if for only a few sessions.They are trained to develop a safe, effective program in light of your specific needs.
* Find a form of exercise that is right for you. Consider what types of activities you enjoy.
o Did you love dancing in your youth? Try an aerobics class with a dance emphasis, for example, a salsa class or a hip-hop aerobics class.
o Were you the star of your karate class? Try kickboxing.
o Is a good walk just what you need to clear you mind? Walking is an excellent form of exercise for almost anyone.
o Find a pool, a track, or a weight room.
o Use your home as your gym with a few pairs of weights and some workout videos.
o Keep trying until you find one or many things that you enjoy doing.
How can I increase my chances of success?
· Make it a habit – keep at it until fitness becomes second nature. You wouldn’t go a day without brushing your teeth, right? Thinking of your new healthy lifestyle as a necessity will keep you on track.
· Put it on your schedule – mark out a time 3-6 days/week for your workout. Put it on your to-do list. Write yourself a Post-it note reminder. Whatever it takes, do it!
· Organize yourself – set your clothes and shoes out the night before and put them on as soon as you get up. That way you’ll make it a priority. If you’re going to the gym, pack your bags in advance. See my tips below for what to bring…
· Make it a priority – it’s easy to procrastinate. There may be dirty dishes in the sink, the phone may be ringing, and you may want to check your email. Don’t give into temptation! Go work out!
· Remember how great you felt after your last workout – this will motivate you even on those days when you’re not feeling overly motivated. You’ll feel great afterwards, so get to it!
· Think about how your efforts are improving your life and the lives of your loved ones – keeping your body healthy will make all your daily activities easier. You’ll chase your kids in the yard without becoming overly winded. You’ll lift your dog into the car without breaking a sweat. You’ll bend over to pick something up off the floor without your muscles screaming out in inflexibility.
· Don’t feel guilty for taking time out for yourself – you maintain your house, your car, care for your children, grandchildren, and/or pets. Why wouldn’t you take care of one of your most important assets: you!
· Start even if you don’t feel like it – go to the gym or put in your workout DVD and devote at least 10 minutes. By that time, you’ll almost always feel like continuing.
One tote for the locker room, one for class and one for my kiddos' gear.
What should I bring to the gym?
- Wear comfortable, breathable clothing and invest in a good sports bra
- Supportive fitness shoes. If you can’t remember when you purchased your shoes, you’re probably overdue for a new pair.
- A mat or towel for floor work
- A lock for your locker
- Shower gear
- Gloves for weightlifting (if you use them)
- Any medication you might need, for example, your inhaler if you’re asthmatic
- Toys or snacks for your kids, if they’re coming with you
I use my Willow House Shop and Go Totes (pictured above) to keep myself organized. They’re easy to clean, easy to keep track of (they come in three different designs), and too darn cute for words!