Ok, so I took the holiday season off. I was traveling a lot. I got sick. Excuses, excuses.
Getting back into an exercise routine can be rough. It’s the New Year, and now that I’m lacing up for the first time in a while, several observations come to mind. But before I talk myself out of my new fitness routine, I’m learning how to silence my inner naysayer.
Can you relate to my struggles?
“I am soooo uncoordinated.”
If you’ve ever taken a new group fitness class you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: You’re gazing at the instructor in bewilderment, wondering what movements she’s making, in what sequence and to what timing. Is that my right or left foot? Oh crap, I was only supposed to do 4 leg lifts? I feel so self-conscious!
Well, stop stressing. Turns out that “confusion” is actually giving you a brain boost.
When you keep your eyes peeled on the instructor, your brain signals your limbs to follow suit. All the variations in action and timing keep the mind engaged and the muscles guessing, improving your coordination over the long run.
Hopefully, you’re around classmates who can giggle through the missteps. After all, you’re more likely to stick with it if you have fun.
“I’m already winded? It’s only been 10 minutes!”
It’s only been 10 minutes? I can barely breathe! How am I ever going to do this longer?
Ok, so your cardio endurance needs a little work. If after five minutes (or two, or 10, or whatever time period) you feel you’re maxed out, slow down. Walk. Rest. Take a breather. And then begin again. The good news is, the more you participate in any form of aerobic activity, the more efficient your heart and lungs become.
Compared to light activity, vigorous activity (when your heart rate is elevated and your breath is rapid) will produce the greatest improvements in cardio endurance. So keep pushing yourself! In the end, your efforts will pay off, and all those laps or flights of stairs will look like child’s play.
“Can I go back to bed?”
I hear ya. Oftentimes the biggest obstacle to getting to your workout is just getting out the door (or out of bed!).
To a former non-exerciser, a 6 a.m. wake-up call can be a shock to the system indeed. But before you hit that snooze button, know this: exercise actually decreases fatigue and boosts energy! Researchers at the University of Georgia discovered that low-intensity exercise, such as walking at a relaxed pace, decreased symptoms of fatigue by up to 65 percent.
“How do you work that thing?”
Unsure how to operate all the machines and equipment? Not to worry. I’ve never met a gym membership that didn’t come with a free orientation.
“I have muscles WHERE?”
Hi, muscles. Nice to meet you. Forgot you existed.
Feeling the burn? Taking part in a new fitness routine can cause you to activate muscles you haven’t used since who knows when. Some of them probably haven’t been put to work since high school gym class! Even though the soreness may be uncomfortable, it’s a good thing.
Working out causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. When your muscles repair themselves, they grow stronger and your lean muscle mass increases. The more muscle mass you have, your body will burn more calories when it’s at rest.
As your muscles grow and adapt, it’s important to continue to challenge them with a higher intensity workout or a heavier weight.
“I don’t fit in.”
I’ll look out of place among the bodybuilders and fitness models in the weight room.
Here’s a fact check for you: The average age of a gym-goer is 40.
If you still feel conspicuous, ask a friend to join you, or find a workout buddy. A buddy can help keep you accountable and the social time is a bonus.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Same goes for a defined waistline or Madonna-esque shoulder muscles.
Exercise can work miracles — such as lowering blood pressure, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of many diseases — but it takes time and commitment to get results.
Before you get discouraged and throw in the towel, take a look at your goals. Are they SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely)? Focus on completing small, achievable goals instead of the big kahuna. Celebrate reaching each mile marker on the way to the finish line. The sense of accomplishment you get from the first checkpoint can carry you through to the next!
Which thought do you relate to most? Have you any others to share? Let me know in a comment below!