By Alexa Bigwarfe
Summer is just around the corner and many of us are preparing for pool season. It can be difficult to get back into a routine, especially as a busy parent when it is often difficult to find the time to fit an exercise routine into your life. However, participating in a regular fitness routine can help you have more energy, release stress and tension, make you feel better overall, and set a good example for your children. This last point is extremely important.
The issue of childhood obesity has become such a problem in the United States that childhood obesity is now considered an epidemic in the U.S. with more than 23 million obese children and teens. Our society needs to demonstrate healthier habits for our children and it starts with parents at home.
Personal trainers, coaches, and health professionals can provide excellent, professional tips on what to do to get active. However, experience has taught me that there are also many things not to do when beginning and sticking with an exercise program. So instead of providing a list of tips on how to get more active, here’s the list on what to ditch to get moving.
Ditch the excuses. If you want to make a change for a healthy, active lifestyle, there is no room for excuses. Research indicates that once a person becomes invested in a training program, they will likely continue. Every two years Running USA compiles a survey on runners which includes a profile of the average runner, based on over 30,000 participants. According to the 2013 report, runners “were motivated to start running for exercise and continue to stay motivated for the purposes of staying in shape” (www.runningusa.org). Time is a major excuse. None of us has any more time than anyone else. Some people are exceptionally good at managing their time, but for those who make time to exercise, it is simply a matter of making it a priority.
Ditch the fear. If you are scared of failure or scared in general about beginning an exercise program, you need to just get over it. Do not be scared, but think of this as a challenge, an adventure. Many gyms, training programs, and classes can seem intimidating to someone who has not exercised in a long time, or maybe even ever. But there are many easy ways to break into a fitness routine. The best way to start is with a group at the same fitness level.
Ditch the unrealistic expectations. So your goal is to complete a distance run? So what if you have to stop and walk some from time to time? A walked 5K is better for you than no exercise at all. You are only competing against yourself, so do not worry how fast others can run in comparison. A friend recently said to me “A twelve minute mile half marathon is just as finished as a six minute mile.” If you set small, achievable goals, you will naturally improve over time. You will feel stronger. There is no reason to be scared or push yourself to attain unreasonable goals.
Ditch the crappy diet. If you are putting a bunch of junk in your body, you will not have the energy and fuel that you need to exercise well. Rather than feeling better, you will continue to feel exhausted. A strange thing happens though when you begin to exercise. Your body seems to crave better choices and you also realize how hard you have to exercise to work off a cheeseburger and fries. You need good energy, and a lot of it, to have a productive workout.
Ditch the naysayers. In a perfect world, everyone around you would want nothing more than to see you succeed. However, this is not always the case. There is an odd phenomenon in our culture that some people like to see others fail. Rather than provide encouragement and help you achieve the goals, these people will be the ones to give you excuses and reasons you shouldn’t be taking time to exercise. Those people are no good for you. Find a group of like-minded people who are committed to making a change. They will support you.
There are plenty of coaches, trainers, cardio instructors and the like who can tell you all the things you need to do to get fit. But they rarely ever focus on the things you should not do, outside of the unhealthy diet. This list is developed through personal experience of the things that have held me back from going from having an active lifestyle. Get ready to gain self-respect, energy, and probably more years of life when you make a commitment to health and fitness. Let’s get fit!
Alexa Bigwarfe is a wife, mother, dog-owner, freelance writer, and tri-athlete.