When I began walking for exercise, I weighed 305 pounds and was walking only for a few minutes at a time. Commitment to reasonable exercise can often determine how successful your weight loss program is. Exercise burns calories and builds muscle. By reducing calories you eat, and burning calories through exercise, you are creating a calorie deficit which can help you lose pounds. By building muscle, you are increasing your lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than does fat. So as you exercise you are burning calories and building muscle, both of which are vital to weight loss success.
If you know all these things, and are still having trouble getting off the couch, here are 5 ways to start an exercise program this week:
- Take your measurements. This will be important as your body changes. As you are taking your physical measurements, also think about mentally measuring your fitness level in your head. Where are you today? Where would you like to be?
- If this is your first attempt at exercise, start small. Don't expect to run 3 miles if the most exercise you've gotten in recent memory is searching for the remote. If you have exercised in the past, start below where you used to be. If you used to walk for 30 minutes, start out walking for 15. In either scenario, start small and build fast. You will be surprised how quickly your fitness level increases. Always check with your doctor before beginning a program.
- Grab a friend. Studies prove that people who exercise together are more consistent than those who exercise alone. My backyard neighbor and I used to power walk almost every morning. Just knowing she was waiting for me was extremely motivating.
- Vary your activity. You've heard it before, but it is easy to get bored and burned out if you just choose one type of exercise. If you like to walk, then try adding hiking for variety. If running is your thing, biking is a natural progression. Throw in swimming and you might just find yourself training for a triathlon. (Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself!)
- Write it down. Journal your goals and your achievements. I wish I had done more journaling than I did. It would be inspiring for me to look back and see where I was and how far I progressed. The journal can also serve as incentive if you fall behind on your exercise plans. By looking back at all you had been able to do, it may get you motivated once again.
The important thing is just to get started. I'm so glad that I overcame the embarrassment I felt when I first started walking as an obese person. I'm thankful that I no longer have make excuses to avoid going on a walk or sit on the sidelines while my kids play basketball. Exercise and weight loss changed my life. Take the risk, take the chance, take the first step!