Strong is the New Skinny: Part 3
Written by Joleen Wilson, RD/LD, CNSC, CBIS, Dietitian for Pathway to Eating Disorders Treatment at Brookhaven Hospital
In parts 1 and 2, I discussed how important muscle mass can be in maintaining a speedy metabolism as well as some of the new fitness trends we are seeing in our world today. Whether you have been active your entire life or have never stepped foot in a gym, anyone can start improving their health by taking small steps toward a healthy, more active lifestyle.
One common pitfall among people beginning a new lifestyle change is an “all or nothing” attitude. They believe that, in order to be healthy, they have to follow a perfect diet and workout 5 or more days per week. The moment that they “cheat” on their diet or miss a workout, it can result in overwhelming guilt and falling off the band wagon. This is one of the main reasons people don’t stick with an exercise routine. They think that they have to change their clothes, drive to the gym, workout for an hour, and then come home. By the time it’s all said and done, two or more hours have gone by. So, the next day when they are about to do it all over again, they think, “Man, that was a lot of work. And I’m REALLY sore. I have better stuff to do” and they don’t end up going back. I wish fitness wasn’t viewed in such “black and white” terms. There is middle ground. Short bursts of activity, when they accumulate, have been shown to share similar benefits of longer workouts. For example, one could walk their dog for 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes after work, and then 10 minutes after dinner. This way, there isn’t such a big time commitment. Also, some may find that they actually workout HARDER than if they were forcing themselves to perform 30 minutes at once, burning more calories in the process.
Other examples of impromptu physical activity include exercising during commercial breaks. Instead of fast-forwarding through those DVR’d commercials, try doing a bodyweight circuit in your living room. Perform 10 body weight squats, 10 lunges each leg, 10 sit ups, and 10 push ups. These can all be modified to your fitness level and physical abilities. If you are uncertain of the types of exercise appropriate for you, ask a physical therapist or personal trainer. If you are more accountable in a structured workout environment, then joining a class at your local gym or looking into Crossfit may be the way to go. As always, remember to ask your doctor before starting an exercise routine if you are pregnant or nursing, are elderly, are overweight and have never exercised before, are a smoker, or if you have a chronic condition.
One very effective way to stay on track with your workouts is to exercise with a friend or family member. It’s much more difficult to skip an exercise session if someone is counting on you to be there. If your schedule dictates that you work out early in the morning, a simple tactic may be to keep your exercise clothes and shoes by your bed so that you have to put them on first thing when you wake up. Lastly, make sure that you are doing something you enjoy! If you hate running, don’t force yourself to do it! We usually stick with what we like, so find something that interests you and keeps you wanting more and you will be more likely to make it a lifestyle change for years to come.
Due to the many facets of this blog series, I will extend this topic for one more week. Next week, I’ll talk about fueling your workouts most effectively.