When a person decides on changing their lifestyle for the better, they have usually already thought about the process for quite a while. By the time they join a fitness centre or start a weight loss program, they have no doubt mentally committed themselves to the process. This is a great thing, but more often than not I see such a high level of frustration from clients or members with the overwhelming changes involved.
If you were used to parking yourself on the couch every night after work and your idea of exercise was rolling over onto your right side so as to avoid bedsores when watching t.v., the idea of working out every day for an hour is devastating!
It takes 21 days to form a habit – good or bad. Use this information to create small changes that you can handle over the next three weeks. If you are going from zero exercise, for heaven’s sake take it slow! If your idea of eating vegetables has been a stalk of celery in your Caesar you are going to have to do a whole lot of adjusting, and it can be very difficult.
Here are some easy changes that you can handle without feeling like your whole life has been turned upside down. Implement these ideas and you will be amazed at how painless a healthier fitness lifestyle can be.
Break your changes into small, manageable pieces and pick one goal in each of four zones. Try to make one change in each ‘zone’ each week. Write down your goals and cross them off when you achieve them so that you can see your success. The following is a sample of a beginner’s 4-zone goals for a week. Gradual progressions can be made to the strength and cardio zones, and additional nutritional changes may be implemented once per week. Bear in mind that this is just an example and that you should talk to your doctor before beginning any fitness regime. Talk to a qualified professional regarding appropriate strength training, cardio and flexibility exercises and guidelines.
Zone 1: Cardio – 20 minutes per day. This can be broken into two separate sessions, i.e. one morning and one evening.
Zone 2: Strength – 2 strength sessions per week (on non-consecutive days) lasting 30 minutes each. These sessions may be done at home, in a fitness centre or even at your workplace during a break. No specialized equipment is required.
Zone 3: Flexibility – 10 minutes of stretching on a warm body each day. Hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds per muscle group. Stretch the muscles that are tight. Do not bounce or push to the point of pain.
Zone 4: Nutrition – eat breakfast every morning. No processed, deep-fried or high-fat items!
After you have been successful with these changes, you will already have more energy and be sleeping better. How motivated will you be to continue when you feel great and you haven’t had to cold-turkey sacrifice everything you held dear? Interestingly once you complete your 3 weeks of lifestyle changes you will actually start to enjoy your exercise bouts and lose your cravings/taste for foods that you have gradually removed from your diet, like greasy, processed foods.
Remember, slow and steady is the way to go. Your couch is going to miss you!