to help you stay on fitness track
The Women Fitness Team
a weight-loss and fitness program is easy (just like quitting smoking,
most of us have done it a thousand times!) — it’s staying with it
that proves trickier. Here are Top 10 tips that have been proven to keep
even the most loyal couch spud on track:
Create a “team”: By working out with a friend or a group of friends.
Just like a football team, you will be more likely to stick it out if a
teammate(s) is encouraging you to “just do it.” Another tactic is to
swap gym tips with your workout friend after you finish to give you a
reason to visit the gym again the next day.
Setting realistic goals: One of the reasons why women tend to drop out
is due to the frustration of expecting high, unachievable goals from
their exercise program and then failing to see results. Try focusing on
what you’ve already achieved, rather than where you want to go with
your weight. Also, measure your success by more than just the scale.
That is, commend yourself for being more fit, feeling better about
yourself in general, being in a more “up” frame of mind — or
whatever else your efforts at eating healthier and exercising are
getting you. With time, weight loss should follow.
According to the
USDA, a realistic weight loss would be about 10 percent of your current
weight over about six months. Losing weight at this slower rate will
allow you to enjoy enough healthy foods to feel satisfied and adequately
nourish your body.
Make a contract: Be specific about the type and frequency of exercise
you will do each week. Additionally, spell out the reward you’ll get
if you make it (a massage, a new CD) or the punishment if you don’t
(cleaning out the cat box instead of having your kid do it). Record your
progress. Remember getting those gold stars in first grade for a job
well done? You’d be surprised how motivating they still can be. Keep a
chart or calendar for recording your “marks.”
Handle the details: Whatever you need to do before you start a program
— getting shoes, choosing a walking or jogging route, buying a piece
of equipment, getting enrolled into the right club — do it. Don’t
allow the little details to create a large, imaginary roadblock.
Make exercise enjoyable: This is most important. Find an activity you
like — or at least don’t hate — doing, otherwise you’ll never
stick to it for very long.
Keep on keeping on: Studies show it takes 21 days to make a habit stick.
If you can hang in there for six months, chances are good you’ll
become a lifelong exerciser.
Vary your exercise schedule: Every now and then you can vary your
exercise schedule, either beginning with a cardio workout or strength
training. Do not forget to warm up and stretch before your workout. This
will keep your muscle guessing and replace monotony.
Healthy weight loss is impossible unless supplemented with a healthy,
low-fat diet and the right exercise program. To keep a check on your
portion size, weigh and measure foods for a while — another way of
making sure that you’re not eating more than you think you’re
eating. See if you’re consistently going over the portion sizes listed
on packaged foods.
Rest, a complete essential: Your mind and body need rest from the daily
stress and strain of life. By incorporating a day of rest in your
exercise routine, you lessen your chance of injury and give the muscles
time to recover and build. Besides, after a day of rest, you will be
better charged with more energy and commitment to exercise even longer
than you had been initially doing.
Listen to your body: While some muscle aches or discomforts are to be
expected when you push yourself during exercise, pain is not. Pain is
your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you
continue exercising through pain, you risk injury. And if you have an
injury, take some time off. You risk health damage, and your recovery
will take longer if you don’t! In certain cases, you might need to
temporarily drop out of exercise.
If you continue
to do all these things and still don’t lose weight, you should ask
your doctor if he/she thinks you should run some tests to determine if
you have a medical problem that’s getting in your way.
The bonus of
eating a well-balanced diet producing a slower, steady weight loss is
that the foods you are eating when you’re losing weight are the same
healthy foods you’ll need to eat to maintain your weight loss. Also,
spreading your weight loss over a six-month period (depending on the
amount of weight loss desired), will give you enough time to make the
necessary changes in your habits, such as learning to minimize nonhunger
eating and exercising regularly. Taken together, eating only when hungry
and exercising will help you stick with your fitness program, help you
to get the weight off and keep it off — for the long haul. In essence,
you will be mastering maintenance while you’re losing weight.
This column was
submitted by Women Fitness, an online guide for women to achieve healthy
weight and optimum fitness, located on the Web at www.womenfitness.net.
Members of the Women Fitness Team include Women Fitness Founder Namita
Nayyar, who is an Aerobics and Fitness Instructor certified by the
International Fitness Association, and a group of personal trainers,
nutritionists and doctors.
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