Weight is something you're dealing with from the number on the scale to the way you feel in your body. You've decided to become more active to offset further weight gain and lose the extra you have. That's awesome! But where do you start? This can be a very overwhelming first step, and it's critical to understand that your workouts will be custom to your body. Before ordering top-notch beginner workout DVDs or picking up equipment for your at-home workouts, even signing up for that membership, meet with your doctor.
What's up, doc? Before you begin any new workout routine, you need to understand where your body is. Do you have diabetes? High blood pressure or high cholesterol? Is your heart strong enough to handle basic aerobic exercise? Your doctor will talk to you about your nutrition, your exercise frequency plan, how to care for joints and feet, and what any habits you might have that need to be broken (smoking, binge eating, high sugar intake). Your doctor should clear you for exercise.
Get moving. The most important part about beginning a workout routine is to move. Be mobile. Here are some easy lifestyle changes to make it happen:
- Take a daily walk. After dinner or in the morning, with the dog, with a friend, with your headphones. Moving your legs gets the blood pumping.
- Ditch the elevator. Yep. You hear this one all the time, so do it! Take the stairs. Even if you have to start with going down before you go up.
- Go the long way around. Time it right so you're not late! This includes parking farther away, too.
- Stand at work. Take calls standing up. Walk over to co-workers instead of e-mailing them.
- Stand at home. Need to squeeze in that addicting reality show? Get up during commercial breaks or try this couch potato workout!
Trial and error: When you begin working out, you need to spend your active time doing something you really like. You can't walk into a group fitness class and expect to fall in love right away. Your girlfriend swears by Zumba, but you are just not a dancing queen. Try it anyway. You might find you enjoy step classes, at-home workouts (if you're self-motivated), strength training with a partner or trainer, machine work (click here to get a step ahead on the stair master, elliptical and treadmill) and so forth. You never know until you try. Give yourself 30 days to discover and explore. By the end of the 30 days, commit to one program for the next 30 days.
Know your limits, but don't fear them. When you're overweight, it's easy to question your body's abilities. For a long time, you've felt like you couldn't conquer much. You need to break out of that mindset and bust the limits. Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable, yes, but it's also supposed to be a little uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. If you're sweating your booty off in a cardio workout and feel like you can't continue for another 10 seconds, ask yourself if that's your mind or your body talking. Listen to your body, tell your mind to back off! You're stronger than you know. Here are some simple guidelines to follow during your workouts (via ACE Fitness):
- Joint pain. If you feel any sort of pain that's beyond muscle soreness or burning — pain that feels directly related to the joint, stop.
- Go low and long. Keep your workouts at a lower intensity, but the up the duration of them.
- Use machines. Get your cardio in with joint-friendly equipment like the elliptical, recumbent bike or rower. Click here to learn more about the rowing machine.
- Love the weights. Resistance training is key to weight loss and strengthening the skeletal system. Use a pair of dumbbells, a barbell or resistance band up to 15 minutes a day, two to three times a week.
» WATCH: 30/20/10 Arm Bootcamp (With Dumbbells) Try doing sets of 10 to begin with and increase as you get stronger!
Change your attitude, change your pace. The toughest part is the beginning. Exercise is not going to be something you can fit into the lifestyle you're living now. Instead, you need to cut out anything that rides against increased physical activity. Make time for it and keep it a priority. This is an attitude change. Once you've nailed the 30-day trial and you're busting through the first 30 days of committed programming, set your sights on the next goal. If there's something you want to try or increase, find out how to make it happen. Keeping up the variety will keep you interested and continue to change your body. The more you know and experience, the more confident you'll be!