Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to fall in love with fitness

Have you ever struggled with maintaining a fitness routine, giving up after a few days or weeks because it was too hard or you didn’t see results?
Or do you just hate exercise and would rather sit on your bum watching TV while wishing you were 20 pounds lighter? 
If you answered yes to these questions, then I totally feel your pain. I’ve been there. 
Ask me a year ago and I would have said I was a veteran couch potato with a knack for stuffing my face as I binged on Netflix. 
No wonder my weight ballooned to 156 pounds on a 5’1” frame (oh the horror). 
Last August, I made a commitment to myself to get strong, not skinny. Of course I wanted to lose weight, but I was tired of feeling like a marshmallow with noodle arms. 
I wanted to be the girl that could run for 20 minutes without stopping. I wanted to be able to do pushups. I wanted to become fit. I’m still on my journey (and it hasn’t been easy) but I’ve lost 14 pounds so far and gone from exercise-phobic to working out six days a week. 

Here are my tips for falling in love with fitness: 

1. Start slow. One of the biggest mistakes people make when jumping into a new fitness routine is going too hard too soon. Of course we all want to see results quickly and challenge ourselves but if you jump into a hardcore workout when the most exercise you normally get is walking from the couch to the fridge, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. 
You will feel tired and achy, can possibly make yourself sick and get so discouraged you may not want to work out again. I suggest starting slow. When I began my fitness journey, I started with the Couch to Five K app. The plan calls for you to jog for three times a week, which builds your endurance slowly. The first week you jog for one minute and walk for three minutes and repeat until the end of the workout and progress each week until you can run for longer distances. This helped me see small gains in stamina each week that totally motivated me to keep at it. 

2. Find a program you love. After slowly (and I mean slowly) making my way through the Couch to Five K plan, I decided it was time for a change. The jogging had built up my endurance and before I switched my fitness routine, I went from struggling to jog for one minute to running for more than 20 minutes without stopping. I stopped the program at week seven to try something new. I looked up a bunch of workouts on YouTube but none of them motivated me. Enter Jillian Michaels. 
I have always loved her programs but before was too out of shape to keep up. I gave her workouts another go last October, starting with 30 Day Shred, which I highly recommend. (A lot of her workouts are available for free on YouTube). After doing the first two levels, I moved on to Six Week Six Pack. I love her training style and the changes I have seen to my body with her workouts. She motivates me to workout each day. I'm now on week three of her Body Revolution program and loving it.

3. Focus on strong, not skinny. It's easy to get discouraged when you're working hard, eating right and the numbers on the scale don't seem to budge. While on my journey, the weight hasn't come off as fast as I'd like, probably because I'm not dieting. I try and eat a balanced vegan diet, but never deprive myself from carbs or the occasional glass of red wine. But what I have noticed is gains in my strength and endurance. I can do intense cardio that would have left me gasping for breath last year, I can do a few real pushups, I can hold a plank and side plank. The list goes on. I can only imagine how much stronger I'll be at the end of the year.

I hope these tips help you on your fitness journey. Tell me, what motivates you to exercise?

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