The Prevention Column
Getting Started When You Think It’s Too Late
By Anthony Bonazzo
A lot of Americans have an all-or-nothing mentality, especially when it comes to fitness. Think of fitness like golf; it requires a daily commitment, and it’s never too late to pick up the game. If you’re currently living with health concerns related to being overweight or obese, or your lack of physical activity, you can still participate in a fitness regimen. But, like in golf, where you can’t just pick up a set of clubs and take a shot at the Masters, it’s best to begin with small steps and implement them accordingly.
If you’re struggling to get to the gym, traveling a lot or are confused about what type of programming you should be doing, making a dietary change is always a good first step. The old adage of eating smaller, more frequent meals absolutely rings true. Eating smaller meals that are lean in protein and low in fat increases your chances for weight loss. If you have a meal you love, but is high in calories, switch it out for a healthy alternative like, say, ground turkey tacos instead of ground beef tacos.
Small steps add up when it comes to your daily caloric intake. Just because all other areas of fitness may have fallen apart, this is not a license to allow everything else to fall apart with it. If you are traveling and know you’ll be pressed for time to work out, make your diet be the focus for the duration of the trip.
Forget the myth that you need to be doing 60 minutes of cardio every day. Albeit, there are benefits, the last thing you want to do when starting out is to overwhelm yourself by trying to complete 7 hours of cardio each week. Instead, make your sessions more efficient by working out in shorter intervals.
On a treadmill, run fast for 1 minute—and I mean as fast as you can; not a light jog or a brisk walk, but as if your house were on fire, and you are running in to retrieve your possessions—then rest for 1 minute. Work your way up to a total of 20 minutes. If you can’t run, replicate this on the elliptical trainer. Try using battle ropes or other Cross Fit toys like power sleds and Jacob’s Ladder. For the battle ropes, try to get through 2 to 5
minutes of continuous work. At first it will seem impossible, but over time, your body will adapt.
And here’s a way you can be physically and fiscally efficient: Make a $20 investment in a jump rope. Use it for 1 minute, and then rest for a minute. Work your way up to 20 minutes. When you conquer that, try shorter rest periods, or try to do 2-minute rounds.
You can’t just do cardio, and you can’t just do weights. I mean you can, but if you want to lose weight and be well-balanced in cardiovascular and physical shape, both are important. This is especially true for your metabolism. Focus on multijoint movements like squat-to-press, step-up to curl, or lunge to curl. Alternate between light and heavy days, doing 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 reps on light days and 6 to 10 on heavy days.
To get motivated, some people suggest setting goals, writing vision boards, or posting in a prominent place a picture of your former in-shape self or a pair of pants you want to fit into. If that works for you, then by all means, carry on. Just be sure you don’t spend all of your time talking about how you want to achieve your goal—actually do it.
The truth is, if you are ready, you won’t need a vision board because you will know that you’ve procrastinated long enough, and your determination will be all the motivation needed to get you moving. You may want to hire a personal trainer to get you on a regimented routine and to add accountability, especially if you’ve let yourself go before. You have to do what’s best for you.
Just remember that you can’t buy a set of golf clubs and instantly be a pro. With patience and persistence, you will reach your fitness goals. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you donning a green jacket at the Masters. Just don’t think you need to be Tiger Woods to get started.
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