Get-up and Exercise Part II: A Plan You Can Sticketh With

by Melody Jean

After reading Get-up and Exercise Part I: Exercise Does What?! It’s Trifecta! you’re now hopefully motivated enough to get started exercising yourself to a better you. So just how do you develop a plan that you will actually stick to? Here I share my remedy.

Choose Your Game

The hardest part is getting started.

First, try to uncover something that you enjoy (or perhaps hate the least, ha!). Walking, jogging jump-rope, biking, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, swimming, are all viable options. If you have access to a gym you can choose among the various cardio machines (treadmill, elliptical, Stairmaster, bike, etc).

When I first set-out more than a decade ago to include exercise back into my life, I chose something that helped build my stamina (staying power), the elliptical.

Gradually Build Yo-Self Up

Exercise classes like Zumba and Spinning or programs via Xbox are good exercise alternatives, but you need to be able to work-out for 45 – 60 minutes at a time. Research underscores that those new to exercise should gradually build their energy and strength.

If your first exercise attempt is to go all-out in a class or kill-it in Xbox, you not only risk injury, but you will likely be very sore since you haven’t been using those muscles, for that duration, on a regular basis. As a result you may be less inclined to exercise again the next day or even soon thereafter. I’ve done this to myself more times than I can count.

Baby Steps Til 4’O’clock

—> It begins With a Single Step

I stole the above title “Baby steps til 4 o’clock,” from one of the funniest movies ever (I think) ‘What About Bob?’ Yet, it’s fitting. Start small. Even with the stamina building exercises mentioned before. People often get so pumped-up on the idea of exercise that they overdo it in the beginning and push themselves to say, run for 30 minutes the first time. As a result, they are unable to keep up with the standard they set for themselves.

—> The First Week

This said, I started with ten minutes, two times per week for the first week. You may go longer than ten minutes, however, I caution doing too much too soon. The reason? It’s mental. If you rock-out and do 30 minutes one day, you may feel as if you have to do it for that length every time. This always set me up for failure. I found that if I told myself I only had to do ten minutes, I was much more likely to get-up and exercise the next time.

This ‘mental trick’ really helped me reintroduce exercise into my life for the long-haul. I literally showed-up at the gym and only worked out for ten minutes at a time and left. No more, no less, I kid not. It worked though and today, I still proudly exercise. I also still employ that tactic if I don’t feel like going one day. I say, “Mel, just ten minutes because some is better than none.” This works almost every time, ha!

—> The Second Week

For the second week, see if you can exercise 15 minutes, two-three times that week. However, if you feel stressed because you don’t think that you will be able to find time to do more than ten, then continue as you have. I had to do that, I went weeks with ten minutes a few times a week. Remember, what I mentioned before; some time spent exercising, no matter how little, is always better than none.

—> Three Weeks and Forward

From this point on, each week see if you can increase your time another 5 minutes. Eventually you will be exercising for 30-40 minutes three-four times a week, which is fantastic. You can then continue onto spinning classes, Xbox, Zumba, and the like. Many who never exercised before then go onto endurance training (cycling, biking, swimming, marathons, and triathlons). I am one of those people – true story!

Keeping It Up

So once you hit 30-40 minutes of cardio how do you keep on keeping on?

—> Don’t Feel Guilty

If you miss a work-out, do not feel guilty. Sometimes your schedule will just not allow exercise three-four times a week. Keep repeating my mantra “some exercise is better than none.” If you miss a day, two, three or four it’s okay. You don’t have to stress and make it up later in the week, unless you have the time. There is always next week.

Also, if you can only do 20 minutes instead of your regular 40 minutes, again, this is fine. Just get-up and do it for however long you have time for.

—> Switch It Up

Remember the exercise classes I mentioned before? If you’re regularly doing 30-40 minutes you’re fully ready to do it all.  If you have the funds, then why not join a gym, or take a class? Also, it’s wise to incorporate some weight bearing exercises into your plan to help strengthen your muscles. Yet, you need to do it correctly to limit the risk of injury. I trust the information I get from the LIVESTRONG website and they have a great post that speaks to this, which you can check out.

—> Eat Well

It’s important that you’re eating well to achieve optimal results, and have adequate energy. Especially if you do NOT want to lose any weight. If you’re unsure what to eat, talk to your healthcare provider about the right meal choices for you.

It All Comes Down To This

So there you have it. That’s really it, in a nut-shell. My strategy to kick-start a healthy exercise plan. Remember the key is to start small, build stamina, never feel guilty if you miss days or weeks, remember some is always better than none, and eat well. Through it all, be kind to yourself, and know that it’s all well worth the effort.

If you missed the first part in this series, Get-up and Exercise Part I: Exercise Does What?! It’s Trifecta! you may want to circle back and read that too. You may also like Zen and the Art of Endurance


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