I hear it every day and sometimes a few times a day: "Ron, I am getting fat."
I was just walking down the hall in my office and one guy (who is not at all overweight) complained he was getting chubby. If you are one of those people who complain about being out of shape, I have some tips. It's not a special cleanse, a 30-minute intense video you have to purchase, or a "couch to 5K" app.
It's not revolutionary and it won't sell my workout video, but the truth is moving consistently and eating a little less crap is a lifetime strategy for health. Sprinkle in a little exercise at least three times a week and you can make a difference.
Like the first rule of Fight Club, stop talking about how out of shape you are! Appreciate your body, turn off the negative self-talk and MOVE.
The biggest mistake I see people make, however, is doing too much too soon. If your body is used to the couch and not the treadmill, don't start sprinting. Running a few miles a day after being inactive for a long time is asking for shin splints, back pain, and foot pain. Start with 20 minutes of walking and your body will not revolt. It does not sound sexy or buzzworthy, but it works.
Another benefit to subtle changes? They stick. You are more likely to keep moving if you're not super sore. Every January the New Year's resolution crew floods the gym pounding on the treadmill like lions chasing prey, and three weeks later these lions are on the couch binge-watching TV and heating up a pizza in the microwave. Start by just moving more, and it should become a habit.
Whether it's a workout video a few times a week or walking at lunch time, consistency is, of course, the key to making it a habit. Once you've done it for a month, then you can start to ramp up the intensity. Use the calendar function on your phone (or an actual calendar, they still make them) and a week out, schedule your workouts.
2. Ramp it up
If walking is where you started your fitness journey, speed it up for 30 seconds and then slow down for 30. You can also start running, increasing the time of your walks, or walking uphill. All these suggestions also apply to running. (Remember to always check with your doctor before starting or changing your fitness routine.)
If you are an elliptical-only cardio person, switch it up -- try biking, rowing, or walking. I love boxing for a workout. You don't have to hit a heavy bag; just shadow-boxing is a great workout.
If you are starting to lift weights, make sure your form is correct. Either ask a trainer or an experienced friend (preferably one that does not complain constantly about sore joints). You can make your lifting routine harder by:
- Increasing the weight
- Doing more repetitions
- Decreasing the time between exercises
- Mixing in jumping jacks or other exercises that get your heart rate up
If you are trying to put on muscle, you might want to stick with heavier weight and increase the rest time between exercises. I could go on for pages about this, but just email me if you have questions.
3. Prep your body
Now that you are moving more, you should incorporate stretching and massage. Before I work out, I do a few movements to get ready for exercise:
- Downward dog (yoga position)
- Running while trying to kick my butt with my heels
- Running while bringing my knees up as high as I can
- Making big circles with my arms clockwise and counter clockwise
If you search "active warm-up" you'll get a lot more ideas.
For massage, I use a foam roll or a tennis ball. If you are new to foam rolling, check out this video from Prevention Magazine; it lists four basic ways to roll for muscle relief. I like to foam roll after my workouts or in the evening when I'm watching TV.