Being a chronically overweight person for most of my life I know how hard it is to view exercise as something to look forward to. You walk into a gym, your stomach clenches and everywhere you look there is a sea of toned hard bodies. It makes your mind jump to the painful fact that you’re not a “Hard Body”.
You ask for a tour but deep inside you know that you probably won’t even use the membership. You tell yourself something like “I’ll work out at home and lose some weight first, then I’ll come to the club and workout. Been there, done that about 5 times and that can get expensive. Perhaps you are like me and have every exercise VHS/DVD known to man. I don’t even own a VCR anymore! I would sit and stare at the TV playing the exercise shows eating a bag of cheetos. I had great intentions but just couldn’t bring myself to do any of them.
There are countless reasons we are overweight and everyone has their own reason. We are not lazy or lack self control. We know full well the health risks of obesity and we know all about Type 2 Diabetes, as well knowing full well how big our abdomen is. Every overweight person I know is aware, more than the average Joe, about nutrition, diet and the need to exercise. We are experts. So why is it so hard to do something about it? Why is it so hard to get off the couch? And what do you actually do when you get off the couch?
My advice is to start small. Jumping into a rigorous exercise routine is not only going to make you feel overwhelmed, but also, by doing too much to fast, you won’t keep up your routine. It will have become a chore. If your Doctor hasn’t already given you exercise suggestions then do take the time to run your choices by him. This is just common sense.
For me, I had to decide what I already like to do for exercise. I made a list of realistic activities that I felt I could do in the shape I was in right at that moment. I also had to look at why I wanted to get into shape and I wrote that down too. Everyone’s list will be different and there is no right or wrong answer. By writing it down your can see what is realistic for you right now, and what is not. I had a very small list.
From my list I chose walking at a Park, since I’d more than likely knock myself out with flying flab if I tried anything more strenuous. Whatever you pick, just pick one to begin with. Plan on doing some warm up in the beginning and some light stretching when you are done. Voila! You have an exercise routine!
Now on to the hard part, which is actually doing it. The good news is the first time is the hardest. A lot of things pop into your head and every excuse you can think of not to follow through will be there. Mine was, “I will look ridiculous, people will laugh, and I am a giant marshmallow in this exercise suit.” My list was huge as to why I couldn’t go to the park to walk.
Our society puts so much pressure on us to look a certain way that it is natural for us to be self-conscious when we begin to exercise. It is hard to get past that, but that is where our list about why we want to exercise comes into play. You are doing this purely for you, to make yourself feel better; to become stronger and to appreciate your body as it is now.
I just had to tell myself, “okay first time someone looks at me sideways, I’m out!” I am such a rebel at heart! Guess what, no one did look at me sideways. All I got was Good “Afternoon’ and “What a nice day it is” from fellow park goers. It was painless and I was over the hard part.
Give yourself a realistic time frame, you’re not going to walk five miles just out of the gate or do 45 minutes of high impact aerobics to start and that is really okay. Just start with where you are at today. Remember, it doesn’t have to be very fast or for a very long time. What helped me was giving myself a time limit. Such as, I will warm up for about 5 minutes, I will walk for ten minutes, and then gently stretch for 5 minutes when I am done. Not a huge amount, I know, but for me that was all I could do at first.
Whatever time you set, stick to it. No more, no less. I recommend you start with 2-3 days a week, building up the time and always listen to your body. I have put down some of my mantras that helped me to get started.
- I am becoming strong and healthy.
- I am moving and that is what matters.
- I deserve to feel fit.
- I am beautiful just as I am.
You may find that you are in better shape than you even realized!