The Tomato Wants to Become a Potato - Happy New Year, New Beginning!!



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Happy New Year to all who are reading. I hope you are ready to start a new "feel good" journey especially after enjoying (indulging over) the holidays!


If you have checked the boxes that say ' I am ready to dive into a healthier lifestyle,' than keep reading. If your fight with willingness and motivation is still winning than keep fighting and return when the boxing match is over. There are some forms attached below that can help you assess your readiness.


Remember those fears that were discussed in the previous post? Have you addressed them all? There is a list of the most common obstacles in that post. Read them again to make sure you have adequately addressed them all. This is a long-term journey that you are committing to. If you are not ready, reevaluate. I believe any change is difficult when you view it as a lifetime commitment. Try to let go of this. We all only have today, not tomorrow and yesterday is gone. You don't have to think about a year from now or even a month from now. JUST TODAY!



ACE_ReadinesstoChangeQuestionnaire
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1_Sample_Behavioral_Contract
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Assuming you are ready to move on, let's do it!


Note: Your strategy may be different depending on whether you work out in a gym or in your home. This post focuses primarily on standard exercise options. Others are listed and will be covered in more detail in subsequent posts but if you have an interest in any alternate modalities I will be glad to provide resources and information.


Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.


REMINDER: When you don't feel like exercising do it anyway. In fact this is the most important time to do it. A common refrain is to say; 'I am too tired, I will do it tomorrow'. Don't get caught in that web. I guarantee that you will have more energy after you finish.

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1. For the most effective results, it will be necessary to exercise at least 3x per week, preferably 4 times. Any exercise is better than none but your progress will be delayed and your adherence will be compromised if you commit less time.


2. Prevent relapses by identifying risk factors and developing solution strategies before they occur. We all have unexpected things happen. The newer you are in your plan, the easier it may be for a unexpected event to derail you long-term. Try to anticpate these possibilities and plan for them in advance. For example, what will you do if you or a family member gets sick or you are required to work overtime?


3. Have that talk with anyone close to you who may not be supportive of your new efforts. Make it clear that you don't want to be discouraged. Maybe the topic needs to be off-limits. Better yet, ask those who also need to make some changes if they want to join you. Having someone go along the journey with you will make it easier. In any case be sure to identify your advocate/support system. This could be a family member, a healthcare provider, a personal trainer, a coach, therapist etc. Make sure they are willing to hold you accountable (see #7).


4. Start slowly. Don't bite off more than you can handle which will cause demotivation and possible injury. I started by walking around the block once. It needs to be an achievable goal. So unless you have a personal trainer, use the knowledge of your capabilities and opportunities as discussed previously. When I was home alone with a toddler, I would walk up and down my driveway while he was napping, running inside every 2-3 times to check on him. Be creative. These days there are a ton of resources on youtube and other forums to find fitness programs that would work for you.


I am a resource if you are looking for suggestions, please let me know. I am not invested in any of them so no promotion involved!


5. Stop thinking in terms of failure. If you started and moved your body, you haven't failed. Think positively about each experience if you showed up and tried your hardest. Maybe you didn't accomplish exactly what you wanted to. It's ok. Pat yourself on the back for what you were able to accomplish and try again. If you are moving and trying then you are not failing.


6. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone is unique in terms of their body structure. One person might be hyper-flexible and a second person may have limited flexibility. There are modifications that can be done for every body type. There are so many variations of exercise that it will not be hard to find those that work for your body. For example, I cannot do standard crunches. I have severe scoliosis and it is dangerous for me to do standard crunches. So I modify and feel no level of failure. I am taking care of my body. You are not competing with anyone!! I heard this from one of my 'Mirror' Trainers - 'there is no shame or blame in the modification game'. Modify according to your limitations and capabilities. Again I can help if you are interested.


7. Hold yourself accountable or have someone else hold you accountable. Plan your week of workouts and carve out the time needed to do them. Inform those who need to know what your plan is for the week. If you possibly can, hire a personal trainer or engage an exercise enthusiast to hold you accountable and provide motivation. Once you have had this help for a specified period of time you might find that your increased knowledge and desire to be successful is enough to keep you going. After 6 months you will probably be addicted to exercising. It doesn't mean you will always want to do it or enjoy it, but you will want to exercise anyway. This may be hard to believe if you have never experienced a long-term commitment to exercise.


8. Track your progress. By keeping a record you can measure your progress without having to remember what your plan is.


Some tools you can use are:

  • My Fitness Pal or Lose It apps for technology-based aids.

  • Fitbook for a pen and paper journalizing tool.

  • Apple Watch, Fitbit, or other wearable technology if you want to set goals and have a device track for you. However, to get granular with stats such as weight used, reps completed per day, it is better to use one of the first two tools.

  • If you are comfortable using Microsoft Word you might like their customizable exercise template called Fitness Journal.

  • If you are comfortable searching online, you will find templates, many of which you can download for free. Just make sure you aren't violating copyright laws.

Lastly:


9. Develop a weekly plan with goals that you will follow for at least the first 3 months. Make sure to incorporate all aspects of body movement and most importantly make sure your goals are realistic. You have to be honest with yourself when you undertake a new program. It you are completely out of shape, it's ok. You will make even faster gains when you get started and stick to the plan. Your plan should include the following elements:

  • cardio - works your heart

  • strength - works your muscles

  • balance - helps with posture, alignment and mobility especially as you age

  • flexibility- stretches your muscles

Components of every exercise session needs to include:

  • Warm-up and stretch*- your heart rate should be increasing and your body feeling warm before you start more vigorous exercise

  • Cool down and stretch - before stretching bring your heart rate down and keep your head above your heart until your heart rate is close to your normal resting rate. Then do static stretches

Every other element can vary from session to session. There are a large number of ways to structure your sessions. Find what works for you. This will also depend on how many sessions per week you are committing to. Make sure to consider that when designing your program. For strength training, each body part should be worked at least twice a week. This is a challenge if you are working out only 3 x per week. Balance/mobility should be added in some form every session. Balance can be a part of a strength or cardio move.

  1. A session is all cardio

  2. A session is all strength and conditioning

  3. A session is a mix of cardio and strength

Here is an example for a 4 days/week program:


Day 1

5-10 min warm up - can be marching in place, walking or a low intensity version of the cardio activity you will be doing*

30 minutes of cardio

5 minutes of balance work

20 minutes strength - upper body and core

5-10 minute cool down and static stretch


Day 2

5-10 min warm up - can be marching in place, walking or a low intensity version of the cardio activity you will be doing*

30 minutes of cardio

5 minutes of balance work

20 minutes strength - lower body and core

5-10 minute cool down and static stretch


Days 3 and 4 - repeat days 1 and 2.


If you are going to work out in a gym, check out the classes they offer that might interest you and provide motivation. Gyms offer a lot of variety that you cannot get from other sources. There are positives and negatives as with many things in life. It is a personal decision. If you are thinking about joining a gym, try to join for a trial period to see if you like it. Places like Planet Fitness are more affordable but may not have all of the options you want.


There are also many alternate exercise modalities that will not be discussed in detail in this post. Some can be done at home, others in specialized studios. Examples are Barre, Orange Theory, Yoga, Pilates. There are endless possibilities which may cause stress in itself. It is easy to get overwhelmed and throw up your hands in defeat. Again, evaluate yourself and pick one modality to start that aligns with your goals. A personal trainer or exercise enthusiast can help you with this.


Keep in Mind: If you have chosen a path for your first 3 months, let's say you are doing cardio on machines such as a bike and/or cross-trainer. Your body will eventually adjust to these activities and your progress may slow down. It is important to change your workouts over time so your body is always confused and adjusting. Wouldn't it be nice if our minds liked to be confused too?🙃


Some Alternate Exercise Modalities

  1. Yoga

  2. Barre

  3. Pilates

  4. Spin

  5. Step

  6. Swimming or aqua classes

  7. Kettlebells

  8. Crossfit

  9. etc.........


Feel free to let me know if you would value information on any of these topics.


This post could continue ad infinitum, however I am going to end here. I will continue to post exercise information. As per my purpose, I am not trying to help experts or those who have successfully incorporated activity into their daily lives. I want to help those who are stuggling.


* there are a lot of opinions on whether you should stretch after you warm up. If you do stretch before you begin your main activities make sure your body is warmed up and focus on dynamic stretches. Static stretches should be done post-workout.










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