Well, it’s the New Year, and time for some health tips that – who knows – you might even implement this year!
Ready? Here goes:
1) Do the bare minimum, then go from there:
If you’re a beginner I don’t recommend jumping into exercise with all guns blazing. Start small. Really small. Because the bigger you make the task, the more it turns into an intimidating monster that can overwhelm you.
So where should you start? Right here and now, after reading this blog post walk for five minutes. Then tomorrow walk for 20 minutes, and the day after that walk for 23 minutes. And that’s your bare minimum, a 23 minute walk per day. Easy.
2) Don’t become a cardio-only dude/gal:
Once you’ve been walking regularly for a few days (say one week), it’s time to introduce resistance training. Though cardio training is very good for you, sadly it’s not enough. Muscle tends to shrink after the age of 30 by a tiny amount each year, so you need to actively keep your muscles strong.
You don’t have to go to the gym if you don’t want to, you can do body-weight exercises at home if you like, but you must do at least 2 resistance sessions per week. See a blog post I wrote a few years ago here that emphasises this point.
3) Keep your exercise clothes ready and less than 30 seconds away:
Positive Psychology expert and author Dr. Shawn Achor says that you should keep things you want to use, like exercise clothes, less than 30 seconds away. Conversely, things you want to avoid should take more than 30 seconds to do or set up. I heard him at a conference some years ago, where he gave the example of trying to watch less TV, so he made it difficult to access the remote control. If I recall correctly, he hid it some place and removed the batteries. It just made the process of watching TV too irksome.
Personally, I have my workout clothes ready every morning next to my bed. My alarm rings at 5 am, I get up, grab my clothes and change. I’m usually in the home gym within 20 minutes of waking up.
4) Change your work/home routine to cater for exercise:
When living in the UK in the 1990’s I would go to my kickboxing club 4 to 6 times a week. But when I started I wasn’t as consistent. My home was on the way to the kickboxing club, so I would stop by and prepare my bag with my clothes and gear. But way too often I’d reach home, and despite my best intentions, I was just too lazy to get back into the car and drive to the club. So I eventually prepared my bag in the morning, and after leaving work I would head to the club directly. This made a big difference.
Have a look at your current routine, and see how you can do something similar. If possible, my advice would be to workout before even going to work.
5) Change your relationship with… yourself!
What I mean here is to be nicer to yourself. If you fail or temporarily quit exercise don’t be mean to yourself. Celebrate successes (in a non-junk food related way) and don’t make a big fuss about the failures. If you’re kind to others then be kind to yourself. Don’t call yourself mean things in your head. If you’re more positive, kinder, gentler and more compassionate with yourself then you’re much more likely to start exercising again after a setback.
6) See exercise as a life-long routine:
Never see exercise as a temporary evil that must be tolerated. It must be part of your routine, just like bathing or brushing your teeth. Make sure your stick to it for three weeks no matter what, because that’s how long it takes to form a new habit. After that it will become routine. And soon enough, you’ll be feeling and looking much better.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk soon!
Now go for that walk!