Updated Nov. 27, 2007 - Getting your fitness program back on track can feel like going back to something familiar, such as high school football or gym class. And it should, if you pick a fitness program that fits you.
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Fitness starts with some kind of physical activity that is comfortable and challenging, something you can look forward to and enjoy repeating throughout the week. Give yourself a goal, such as 30 minutes of fitness activity at least five times a week.
No wonder walking is so popular - you can achieve your goal by walking in all kinds of settings, indoor and outdoor. You'll reap many health benefits by making regular physical activity part of your life. It will help you relieve stress, increase your fitness level, and reduce your risk for heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Sticking To It
Nothing beats helping you stick to a plan like rewards. Try this:
- Recycle and decorate a jelly jar and turn it into your fitness account. Every time you walk, reward yourself with a nickel for each minute. This way, even a short walk is worth much more than just the time you spent.
- You can also hang up a map of your county or state in your home or office. This is your brag wall! Calculate that every 20 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace will advance you about one mile. Using a bright color marker, start at the place on the map that is your front door and as you walk to a destination, track it on the map. Pick a distance, such as 20 miles, and reward yourself when you reach your goal by opening your "fitness account" jar and treating yourself to something very special like a spa day.
Variety Is The Spice of Fitness.
If you begin negotiating with yourself about skipping or shortening your routine, it's time to add some sparkle!
- Invite a friend to join you. Someone else's jokes may drown out your huffing and puffing.
- Change the scenery. If you are on a treadmill in your home, try putting up a series of inexpensive shower curtains in front of you. There are some whimsically appealing scenes of the beach, a garden, and even outer space that can invite your imagination to take a short vacation. If you walk outdoors, try a different route.
- Change the time of day or the day of the week. If you take classes at a fitness center, see if the schedule will allow you a morning or evening swap.
- Change the motion and movement. You could walk backward, add weights (with professional advice), or alternate your regular regimen with another activity, such as yoga or tai chi. And who says that playing catch, kick ball and swinging are only for kids? Prance and dance now and then. Your muscles and joints will welcome a little break from repetition.
Size It Up
If you are not comfortable while working out, don't give up-look for solutions!
- If you are well-endowed, you may prefer wearing two bras instead of one or a sports bra. If other parts jiggle more than you feel comfortable with, look into garments that help with compression.
- If lots of sweat makes you feel soggy, try a sports shirt that wicks moisture away from your skin. They are available at many stores that sell athletic clothing or discount outlets. And, yes, they come in cute colors and large sizes!
- Hair and make-up care are very personal things. The best advice is to simplify your beauty rules for exercise. You are beautiful no matter what you wear.
- If the physical part of physical activity is an uncharted territory, think about hiring a personal trainer. Yes, there is a cost, but sometimes it is not as expensive if you go through your local community center or church health ministry. Think of a few sessions with a personal trainer as a cross between a luxury and a necessity.
A Fondness for Fitness
If fitness still sounds like an accessory you are supposed to wear even though it just doesn't match anything you own, try it on anyway. Many delightful surprises await you.
You'll meet new and old friends on your fitness path. You will have a new, more positive sense of yourself because you have done something positive for yourself.
Take the challenge and try to develop a fondness for fitness. There are a million reasons to and none not to.
For more on fitness, see A Healthy BET. Also, call 1-866-3-LOSE-IT for your "A Healthy BET" healthy living brochure!