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When trying to get into shape — pace yourself

SALISBURY — First of all, I want to thank everyone for the amazing responses and feedback I have received from the last three columns. It really moves me to hear that so many people really are trying and willing to start a healthy lifestyle. And with all the negativity that is going on in the news, it is nice to feel good and/or hope. As I mentioned before, it is a lot easier said than done. That does not mean it is impossible but prepare for a challenge.
If it took you 20 years to get out of shape, it will take you a while to get back in shape. Yet, so many people are so disappointed when they have worked out for two weeks and have been eating good that nothing has happened.
Many things will happen as soon as you start working out: You will get more energy, you will sleep better and your heart, lungs and circulation will thank you from the start.
Especially if you have been that person who has been on a “yoyo” diet/lifestyle for many years — weight comes off and comes back on. Exercise for a month or more and stop for a month or more. Your body is an amazing entity, it can heal itself, it can function on next to nothing (for a while), when in distress it goes into survival mode and people have been able to do unbelievable things such as picking up a car to get a loved one out from under it. Yet we keep on pushing it further and further and wonder why certain things are happening to us. Your car wouldn’t run when you don’t put gas in, right? But we expect our bodies to function well with no breakfast and or lunch. We wouldn’t put oil in the gas tank right? Yet we put many greasy foods in our system. It is sad but there are enough people who take better care of their car than their own body.
I know, it’s hard but I believe anyone can do it. Here are some tips which work for me to stay on a healthy lifestyle:
• When grocery shopping, shop on a full stomach and have a list. (It’s amazing the bad choices I make when I go in hungry.)
• Don’t buy “forbidden foods” (ice cream, cookies, chips, etc) you can’t resist. I know I can’t resist cheesecake and certain ice creams, so I don’t buy them or if I do I buy, one slice or a smaller portion. Why torture yourself? Make better choices and buy treats that satisfy you but also are better for you — yogurt ice-cream, for example.
• Write down all that you eat in a day. You will be amazed how much more you eat than you realize. Continue this for a successful future.
• When starting an exercise program, start slow. Too many people are so gung-ho to start that they come every day for a couple of hours to the YMCA (or any other fitness center) and exercise. Your chance of injury increases going from nothing to that much. You probably will get burned out sooner because, yes, it seems like a part time job. It’s better to go three times a week for an hour of good exercise for the rest of your life than five-seven days a week for a month or more and stop.
• Is your intensity high enough? Even starting slow, you still need to be in your target heart rate while doing cardio and lifting weights that challenge your muscles. An easy way to check that is rate of perception. How do you feel while working out? 1 — you are not doing anything; 10 — you are ready to pass out. You need to be anywhere between a 6 and an 8 or 9.
• Find a time of day that works for you. If you are not a morning person, the 5 a.m. workout will likely fail. If you find out that when you go home after work you will not go out to exercise (even if the intention was there), take your workout clothes with you and go straight from work to your workout.
• And last but not least for now, challenge yourself to try new things and/or classes. You might be surprised how much you are going to like something. And it is a lot easier to stick with something that is fun to do. But always remember — you will start feeling so good that it will be worth it staying on your healthy lifestyle routine.
Ester H. Marsh, ACSM Cpt Associate Executive and Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley Family YMCA

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