You do not need to join a gym to lose weight. You do not need to "workout" for hours a day. You do not need to wake up at 5AM for a 5 mile jog.
You do NOT.
I’m serious. I’m not trying to sway you from adding an exercise routine your plan, it’s good for you to exercise. You know that, we all know that. But when it comes to weight loss, for me, it was more about the food. I was eating too much and I got lazy. Not a good combination. I started just doing less and less because I didn’t like the body I was in, the body I put myself in.
While working on my self-acceptance and my diet mentality I also decided I had to just move more. At the time I wasn’t into "working out." I didn’t have a gym membership and I had no desire to get one. I made a decision that I needed to find a balance between the food I ate and the activities I wanted to do.
Wanted, this is key. In my opinion, if you are forcing yourself to workout, forcing yourself to go running, or forcing yourself to hit the gym then the habit won’t stick. You need to enjoy it. The activities you choose must fit into your lifestyle or you’re setting yourself up to fail, just as you would by going on a crash diet. We need to think long term. Am I willing to do these types of activities all the time? Are they part of a lifestyle I want to live? If not what’s going to keep the weight off when you decide to stop them? Or better yet, how long can you even keep at them?
For example, in my yo-yo era I would routinely say things like, "I’m going to wake up at 5AM every morning and jog" or "every night before bed I’ll do 100 crunches."
Want to know how long that lasted? Ummmm yeah, first of all I STILL can’t wake up at 5AM, I’m better off not going to bed at all if I need to get up that early. And the before bed thing, well, I can barely remember to brush my teeth I’m so tired by the end of the day.
My problem was, just like the ‘start on Monday’ diet mentality I was setting unrealistic goals that as soon as I failed would give me permission to abandon all forms of exercise. Instead of trying to be something I wasn’t, a 5AM runner, I needed to start with activities that fit my lifestyle and fitness level at the time.
I simply needed to start moving more.
Sounds cliche, doesn’t it? So will my next piece of advice.
I truly believe the first step to moving more is turning off the TV. I LOVE television as much as the next guy and I’m not going to lie, I watch a lot of it. But I decided early on in the toddler’s young life that I did not want my child to live in a household where the TV was on 24/7. So I shut it off. What a novel idea right? Well, BOY did a whole bunch of opportunities to MOVE MORE present themselves.
First… the Dancing. I’m going to take a side bar here and urge you to shut off the TV, blast your favorite music and dance like a complete lunatic around your house at least once a day. I’m SERIOUS! No one’s watching and if they are get them involved. The husband now dances with the toddler and I. We have a blast. We get our heart rates up, we have fun, sometimes we laugh so hard we cry. Just think about it, a few songs go by and you just "moved more" for 10-15 minutes, getting a bit of cardio in and maybe even some strength training in if you are carrying a little one like I used to.
You think I’m crazy now, right? I don’t care. It’s fun, it IS crazy and it got this lazy butt off the couch. Not to mention it gave me a fun way to interact with my son who still LOVES to dance. I mean really, the kid will break out like Fred Astaire in the middle of the mall if there’s a good tune on. :~)
Ok, back from side bar. Sorry.
Other opportunities that present themselves when you decide to shut off the TV…
- Taking a family walk
- Going to a park
- Heading out to the backyard for a game of catch
- Reading books to your kids
- Organizing your closet or junk drawers
- Cooking a healthy meal with the family TOGETHER
I could go on and on here, but I think I’m making my point. All of these things have you moving more than passively watching TV. You’re thinking "yeah, ok, reading really burns more calories than TV watching, ok Roni, you fell off the rocker on that one." You may be right, but to that I say it’s not always about burning more calories, it’s about being actively engaged and "doing" something. I think too many of us go through life mindless, like we are on autopilot.
wake up…. turn on news… get kids to school… go to work… come home… turn on TV…. order dinner…. send kids to bed…. pop in Netflix movie…. grab snack…. plop back in front of TV…
day in… day out
BORING! Mix it up a bit! Turn on the music, take the family out for an after-dinner walk, play with your little ones while waiting for dinner to cook. Anything, but please be engaged!
Another side bar… One of the best pieces of advice I received from the toddler’s pediatrician was about kids and TV watching. If I was going to let the toddler watch TV he told me to make it active, not passive. When Dora asks a question or Sporticas tells the kids to get up and jump, do it. YOU do it and get your child to do it with you. You’ll be showing your kids that TV can be an active experience. Now when the toddler watches alone I see him interact with the television, not sit on couch like a brainless drone. He is ENGAGED and guess what, he’s moving more and so am I!
So back to this moving more thing, I truly believe that just by being more active with everyday activities you can make HUGE strides. Shutting off the TV is only one example, how many times are you presented with the choice of stairs vs. elevator? Finding a close parking spot vs. parking far away? Even automatic doors vs. traditional? Starting small will grow and foster active habits. Soon you’ll be wanting to do more and your body may be craving it.
I literally started doing the things I mentioned in this post. Early during weight loss the family would take walks, play active video games and go to the park for hikes. I made my 5 story rule and found other ways to just stay active. Within 2 years I wanted to go the gym, I wanted to increase my activity level, and if you believe this, it actually sounded FUN.
Even at the gym I started slow, maybe 20 minutes walking on a treadmill and some Nautilus machines. Now I’m taking boot camp classes and lifting free weights. Not to mention the running, which I LOVE to do now (but still not at 5AM.)
Listen, it’s not going to happen overnight. If I even attempted to do what I’m doing now 3 years ago I wouldn’t have lasted more than a day. I’m serious. I worked up to it. Just like everything, it was a progression. The best thing you can do for yourself is to start slow and simply MOVE MORE!