Physical fitness is a lifestyle. But it doesn't mean you have to either train for a marathon or do nothing. The all or nothing mentality is often the very thing that keeps people from changing their fitness habits. "I'd never be able to switch from double cheeseburgers to uncooked broccoli. I could never run 26 miles. Maybe it's best to sit on the couch so that I don't hurt my joints. I'm 60 pounds overweight. It will take forever for that to come off. Maybe I'll have some ice cream while I think about how impossible that is." When you see life as one extreme or the other, it's hard to get motivated. Small changes add up to big changes. If you don't know where to start...
Do these things more:
-Carry your groceries to the car.
-Stretch while you watch TV.
-Take the stairs.
-Park far away from the entrance.
-Clean your own house, mow your own yard.
-Stand on one leg from time to time.
-Put a few books in a small bag and carry it
when you move around the house.
Consume less of these things:
-Butter and cheese
-Fruit juice (Have fresh fruit instead)
-Refined, white carbs (Think brown)
The Do's and Don'ts:
Do: Make a resolution to change your life.
Don't: Make it a New Year's Resolution. The problem with New Year's Resolutions is that many people expect a monumental restructuring of their lifestyle habits on Jan. 1. So during the November/December holiday season they cram as much food and alcohol into their bodies as possible, knowing for certain that they will make a change in the New Year. This overindulgence feeds the monster that is just harder to kill once the dreaded resolution date arrives. There is a heavy psychological attachment placed on the New Year's resolution, and if it is not kept, many people will simply decide, “Well, I couldn't do it this year, so I guess I'd better wait until next year.” Make a resolution today. No matter what day it is.
Do: Set goals to accompany your resolution.
Don't: Set them so high that you become discouraged within a week. You're 40 pounds overweight, smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, happy hour has become happy hours, and you get winded tying your shoes. Let's face it...you won't be running the Boston marathon in 3 months. People often set goals that are far beyond reasonable. This can lead to self-disappointment and a return to self-destructive lifestyle habits. “I'll always be this way, what's the point?” As a recovering alcoholic and former chain-smoker who was once 40 pounds overweight, I can assure you that your motivation to change will get weaker, not stronger, if you set goals too high. If you decide you want to run the Boston marathon one day, start by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Set goals for today that are within reach.
Do: Make a commitment to become a new person.
Don't: Believe that exercise alone will cure all of life's problems. Exercise can provide you with a feeling of accomplishment, and simply starting is an indicator that you believe your life has value. But it is important to recognize that a healthy life is not merely a healthy body. We can't neglect our emotional well-being along the way. It's highly unlikely that you are an overweight chain-smoker simply because it's something you just started doing. If it is that simple, then just stop. Not that easy? Well, then there is probably something else going on. There are a wealth of resources available to address the underlying emotional issues attached to poor lifestyle habits. Self help books, therapy, 12 step programs, meditation. It is all at your fingertips. Find what works for you.
Do: Expect that you will look and feel better.
Don't: Become obsessed with your body image. Let's face it, most of us think about starting an exercise program because we want to be more physically attractive than we believe we are now. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. After all, we are sexual beings. BUT...like the dreaded New Year's Resolution, an obsession with becoming more physically attractive can create unrealistic goals and do great harm to your self worth, and ultimately, your motivation. Looking at yourself in the mirror every day to evaluate how well your exercise program is coming along is likely to lead to frustration and disappointment. Remember this...all mirrors are fun-house mirrors. When we look in the mirror and judge ourselves, we are not just looking at our bodies. We are looking at all of our fears, expectations, and perceptions of how we think others see us. This leads to distortions. People suffering from anorexia nervosa see a fat person in the mirror. Think of exercise as a cause/effect relationship. The results become more objective, and less susceptible to your own biased judgments. The formulas are pretty simple really. For example: If you eat the cereal for breakfast instead of the eclair, and you walk the dog for 40 minutes instead of 10, you are burning more of the now fewer calories that you are taking in, and your waistline is going to shrink. OR...your maximum number of push-ups has increased from 12 to 20, so your triceps are going to tighten and feel less flabby. In other words, trust the science, not the mirror. If you eat better and exercise, your body WILL change. Not overnight, but it will.
Do: Believe that exercise comes with guarantees.
Don't: Believe the hype. You've bought the AbFlab Blaster, the Thigh-Jiggle Terminator, and the Lifeguard Chest-orizor. For some reason you still don't look like the woman on the television with the perfect hips, or the man with deltoids that look like a cross section in an anatomy textbook. First, remember where you saw them. On television. Ah, the magic of television. People get hired to demonstrate products like that because they are ALREADY chiseled and sculpted. They make their living based on how their bodies look. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that. I'm also not saying that there is anything wrong with selling a product on television. We all have bills to pay right? Just recognize that the guy with shredded abs on the infomercial has shredded abs because his abs are professional abs. The guarantees that come with exercise are this: Resistance exercise leads to stronger, firmer muscles. Cardiovascular exercise leads to a healthier heart and lungs. Burning more calories than you take in leads to weight loss. Those are the guarantees. Nothing more, nothing less.
Simple, Basic Tips for Fitness...
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