Stuff your body with holiday fare and results are undeniable, swelling takes place immediately. But pump some iron for a week and… zilch… nada… nothing. Even if intentions are all fired up, they begin to fade when you can’t see any results. Why should I exercise if it’s not making a difference? Au contrair, mon ami. It IS making a difference, you just can’t see it… yet! The biggest difference is that YOU HAVE BEGUN.
Making the move to exercise more is big, mainly because most of us have to psyche ourselves up for years before we take the plunge. Pretty much, we have to feel lousy enough. And when we do start, we want to see evidence of time well spent, a reward for all that effort. But wait… waiting is a part of it that nobody talks about. All we’re told is how gorgeous we’ll be. So you start but then give it up when you don’t feel any different. It takes a couple of months or three to see that you are, indeed, getting stronger. Then, the excitement of that is sure to keep you doing it long term. Yes, it will!
I have a vested interest in keeping fit. Mainly, my knees. I love to dance and knees are essential. A strong core is too, but my knee is the body part that got my attention first. Whereas the crunching in the left one gets louder as the years go by, there is no pain whatsoever. Years of strengthening the muscles around that joint has kept it stable and that’s really exciting. Once, my feet went out from under me during a wildly wonderful swing dance, and it was scary. Flipped right down onto my back with a blow so hard that surely my pelvis was broken. I wasn’t the only one surprised to see me get up and carefully walk away. I’ve also taken several tumbles down stairs, and I’m sure that a strengthened core was the reason I got up unscathed on all three occasions. I am a believer.
The most important thing of all is putting together an exercise routine that actually works for you and doing it at least twice a week. One that’s convenient will make sure you keep it up. This includes when to do it, how long to do it, and what exercises you choose to do. Just be sure to work all important muscles, along with those that support shoulders, knees and hips. There’s help galore online and in bookstores.
Whichever mix you choose works as long as it includes all 3: stretching, aerobics of some kind, muscle strengthening. No need for trendy, fast as you can, hot as you can, or joining a fancy gym. No actual equipment is necessary. Floor exercises in your home — in your pajamas — works just fine.
A good start is your back. Just 10 minutes a day makes a big impact. 5 minutes of stretching and 5 minutes on your back, literally. Believe me, a strong back is life changing. And the side benefit is better posture. You can add stuff as time goes on, but the important part is to start and not be too hard on yourself when vacations, bad weather, or life circumstances interrupt the routine. Believe me, I don’t walk in pouring rain, freezing cold, or on vacation.
Here’s some important hints that will make all this more doable. When you try something new, start small. Only do one thing, go half way or hold half as long, then work up from there. That will keep you from getting discouraged. Doing movements slowly works muscles harder, thus fewer reps are necessary, thus less time. yay! Mixing the routine up to avoid boredom was important for me, so I don’t do the same thing every day. I think they call this “Setting yourself up for success.”
Remember not to kill yourself — steady Eddie has worked divinely for me. The key is regularity and g-o-i-n-g s-l-o-w.
Slow and steady wins the race.