Fail Me Not: How to find ways to enjoy exercise

For those who have embraced and enjoy exercise, you deserve plenty of credit.

You’re the exception, not the rule.

That’s because roughly 10 to 13 percent of the general population belong to a gym, suggesting that consistent exercise and having a routine that consists of 30 minutes of exercise per day, three to five days a week, isn’t a reality for most.

Even if you consider of that 10 to 13 percent figure that some people work out at home, buy workout DVDs or stream exercise routines, that number only grows marginally at best.

The biggest reason individuals don’t workout typically centers on time, and not having enough of it.

But as much as that is the politically correct answer, one sentiment surfaces to the top more often than not.

You just hate exercise, period.

Very few enjoy the idea of working out, much less finding that time, making it a priority or really relishing sore muscles and 30 minutes to an hour or more of your life that you’ll justify can be spent doing something much more enjoyable or necessary.

The country has an obesity problem, and while some link it rightfully back to our diet and how we eat, you can’t discount a lack of exercise as a contributing to overwhelming factor behind more than half of the population considered obese at this point.

The key to solving your exercise dilemma is finding a way to change how you perceive this.

Maybe exercise will never be a desired end game for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt a program or regimen that works for you, on any number of levels.

Those who have broken through that detestable mode of how they view exercise often have to find a means to burn calories and break a sweat that doesn’t include the monotony of the treadmill or the confusion that abounds when you’re staring down the barrel of weights, machines and equipment that looks foreign to you.

Think about things like dance classes, playing basketball or doing something that means more to you than the uncomfortably of being in a gym setting. Those who boast success will tell you they had a lot of trial and error to find what fit them, made them feel comfortable and slowly but surely going back one visit after another.

In addition to finding your love of exercise, you need to find a way to be accountable for it, once you’ve found some sort of rhythm. Maybe you’d like to track what you’re doing if you’re statistically inclined or maybe you want a workout partner to make sure you’re going to the gym.

You may never truly “bond” with exercise in a way that some do, but the end result is about a healthier lifestyle and weight loss, even if your love of exercise is more of an upgrade to simply liking it.

Fit to be Tied: Why joining gym shouldn’t be just about price

It’s January, and New Year’s Resolutions about getting in shape are running rampant.

But much like the treadmill you’re contemplating hopping on, are you just racing to find the perfect gym but not making much progress, still in the same position you were just a few minutes early?
Joining a gym in January is a rite of passage, something the general public does as almost a reflex with varying success.

More than half of the individuals who join a gym in January end up quitting by the middle of February, and those numbers are daunting and disappointing in the same breath.

That doesn’t mean joining a gym isn’t done with the best intentions, but often times that feeling of being stationary and not making much progress at the gym comes from your driving focus of joining centering on one element that ends up being your Achilles’ heel.

Price, and price alone.

So it’s understandable that you want to join a gym, lose weight and stick to your January, New Year’s Resolution game plan to get healthy this year. And price is a big part of your decision, and that’s fine.

Setting your sights on price specifically isn’t always advisable, because a lot of what breeds success from an exercise standpoint has to do with more than just the monthly dues.

Price is, however, a huge selling point, especially when you consider that larger chains such as LA Fitness, Planet Fitness and Crunch are price sensitive in both their in person presentation when you tour the facility as well as marketing. Planet Fitness is all about their $10 per month membership, and even if you’re someone who hasn’t worked out in a while, who can’t part with that little of money each month?
But losing weight isn’t about a fad or how much the membership costs. Instead, the overall goal should be a lifestyle change that includes eating better, working out and the convenience that should go along with it.

If you pass a gym on the way home, and it’s $50 per month, maybe that is a better choice rather than joining somewhere for $10 and having to go out of your way to get there, perhaps even stopping home first (always a sure fire sign that you’ll quit, since going home and trying to motivate yourself to go back out is difficult).

In addition to the “drive by” approach, you should consider joining with a friend (twice as likely to stick with it) or a personal training studio or group class of other individuals who are at the same fitness level as you. Training studios have seen a rise in popularity mostly due to personalized training approach and results, rather than joining a larger gym, and having no clue what you’re doing.

The old adage of “not putting a price tag” on your health stands the test of time, and while what you pay is important, what you ultimately gain (or lose in this case) from the entire process trumps all.

Fitness Follies: How to avoid failure with fitness

Setting goals is so very important when it comes to fitness and embarking on an exercise program, but what if goals, depending on what they were, could actually be a deterrent in the gym?

The real reason goals don’t work as far as fitness goes is when you set ones that are unrealistic. A lot of that can be traced back to how we view body types, fitness and have little understanding truly of what it means to be “healthy.”

You have to be honest with yourself, where you are at this point and what would be considered a reasonable goal if you’re picking up the weights or hopping on the treadmill for the first time in a while.

Someone who has gained a few hundred pounds in the last year or two isn’t going to be able to drop that weight in six months. Understanding that it took years to gain weight might be the biggest revelation you can have before you attempt to lose it, knowing that you might be 12 to 18 months away from finally getting back to your “goal” weight.

Unfortunately, our exercise culture has turned from longevity and being healthy for the long haul into instant gratification, watching television shows about makeovers and losing weight and how that process can happen so very quickly.

A show like “The Biggest Loser” actually was more harm than good. It showed massive amounts of weight dropped one week after the next, but what most don’t realize is that they’re at a confined location where all they do is exercise and have dietician monitoring how they eat from one celery stalk to the next.

That isn’t realistic, and what it did was breed a culture of exercisers who joined a gym for a few months, didn’t lose weight and quit anyway. They didn’t have 24 hour per day trainers or live at a camp where fitness is the first, last and only priority you have for months.

How we view fitness as a society and what our definition of “healthy” is also can be a hurdle. Who doesn’t want to have a flat stomach, washboard abs and look great in a two piece bikini or bathing suit?

But having a flat stomach shouldn’t be tops on your list. Instead, think more about dropping pounds with a more consistent, fat burning and muscle toning workout. Your stomach might not be completely flat but it will thank you when you see it more toned, not only there but in your arms, legs and butt, too.

One mistake men and women make consistently is trying to also do too much, too soon. You shouldn’t be doing CrossFit or cardio kickboxing when you haven’t worked out intensely at all or it’s been quite a while. You’ll end up injured or harming your body.

Failing at fitness is quite common.  Most of that rests squarely on your shoulders, mostly because you set goals that were far beyond expectations, and while your intentions were good, they also were misguided at best.

Time Starved: How to effectively exercise efficiently

One of the more successful training videos in the past decade or so was titled “10 Minute Trainer.” And while the context of the video wasn’t anything revolutionary, the title taped into a feeling among exercisers, particularly new ones, that simply was too good to be true.

What if you could workout for 10 minutes per day or every other day and still lose weight?
If you’re reading that question and aren’t intrigued, you’d be in the minority. Most would hear that proclamation and immediately sign up for that deal in a heartbeat.

The “10 Minute Trainer” success shows that the masses are starved for time, and want nothing more than to be able to be healthier and more fit as long as they can continue to work hectic hours, shuffle the kids off to baseball and dance, and maintain their volunteer work, work around the house or anything else that consumes their time.

Whether or not 10 minutes is enough to ensure the body of your dreams is debatable, but you can consolidate your workout and still make it well worth your while. The idea that you need to work out for an hour or more, five days per week isn’t feasible nor is it necessary to maintain a healthy weight and an even healthier lifestyle.

One of the easier ways to expedite your workout with time being of the essence is to start thinking more about training with multiple body parts and working through the circuit training mentality more than anything else.

Circuit training often is defined by moving from one machine to another and changing the weight that is being used. But think of circuit training more like interval training than anything else. Think about high intensity training that is short bursts, rather than meandering around from one machine to the next (stagnant training). Jump rope for 30 seconds, do planks for 15 seconds, jumping jacket for 30 seconds and core work (sit ups) for 60 to 90 seconds, and you have yourself a high intensity workout that is literally going to take you 15 minutes, max, just as an example.

Group fitness and exercise classes also help for a number of reasons: they have a start time involved and they’re typically 30 minutes in length (some of them are one hour). The start time is the accountability piece you need, and 30 minutes of Yoga, Pilates or weight training isn’t overly intrusive to your schedule.

Time is the major reason cited as to why you aren’t working out. But you have to get past the fact that exercise has to be time consuming. Instead, work out smarter, not necessarily harder, and time won’t be an issue moving forward.

Gym Neighbors: How to get motivated and avoid gym mistakes

What is the one excuse you hear as to why people can’t exercise?

They don’t have the time, right?
In addition, why do most people quit the gym even after they’ve tried to go?
Chances are, they’re not seeing the kind of results they want.

And those two questions and the subsequent results aren’t just about first time or novice exercisers. They pertain to that group but also those who are going consistently, enjoy exercise but yet can’t seem to get on a schedule of consistency both in frequency with which they go and also achieving what they initially set out to do, most notably losing weight or toning.

So how exactly do you get motived and get the results you want, avoiding plenty of common mistakes that happen at the gym?
Studies show that going to the gym on a consistent basis centers around two major elements: an upcoming event or the buddy system. Everyone knows just how intense exercise can be when, for example, you’re preparing for a wedding or even just getting yourself in shape as summer approaches and you’re attempting to shed those winter pounds.

But nothing keeps you on point better than the buddy system, and that can mean anything from finding a partner to exercise with who will keep you accountable when you don’t want to go, or employing a personal trainer who will do the same.

Personal training gets a bad wrap because quite frankly there are some really ho hum, average ones available, but the ones who know how to add variety to workouts and keep things interesting are keepers. They’ll also keep you on task.

As far as gym mistakes go, they’re plentiful, including doing the same exercise over and over again (which is why a trainer helps quite a bit). Another misstep often made when it comes to exercise is believing that you have to train or workout every day. You’ll lose weight and gain muscle or tone your body by also letting it rest for a few days after three or four days in a row of exercising. You also can employ the one on, one off rotation where you workout and then take the next day off, working out essentially every other day.

If weight loss is what you’re trying to achieve most, you’ll want to look at cardiovascular training in two distinct ways: stationary and interval. Far too often, your workouts are nothing more than walking on a treadmill and driving back home. If you’re going to do an extended cardio workout, you want to make sure you do so and have as little rest as possible, meaning you keep going and don’t break from it.

High intensity training in intervals means you go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, for instance, then take twice as long between sets (in this case 60 seconds).

Being able to distinguish that type of cardio is key to getting to your fitness goals and burning fat fast.

So rather than get caught up in excuses, trying looking at how to make exercise that much easier for you.

Plateau Effect: How to break through any exercise plateaus

When you’re in the gym, working hard and eating right and the scale just isn’t cooperating with you, thoughts immediately turn to one word that you really don’t want to even think about, much less utter.

Plateau.

Specifically, the term “exercise plateau,” a term that signifies that your body has decided to stop losing weight, gaining muscle or whatever it is you’re trying to do and simply stops cooperating with all your training, weight lifting, cardio and anything else you’ve been sweating to since you embarked on this fitness endeavor.

The fact is plateauing as it relates to exercise isn’t all that uncommon, so the first thing you have to remember is that you’re not at fault, and there’s nothing you did incorrectly to get to this point. The focus moving forward is how to get past this hump, this exercise roadblock to the point that you start seeing those positive gains again, rather than stagnancy.

The key to the plateau effect and breaking that vicious cycle is variety, followed closely by really examining your diet. A friend of mine did cardio five times per week for six months and lost a ton of weight, about 30 pounds to be exact. Another took a job outdoors that included walking all day, every day as part of the job, and he dropped 40 pounds in about nine months.

And yet both got the point that they simply stopped losing weight.

Both of them had poor eating habits, including junk food and eating late at night. The cardio in both situations more than offset that, plus they had never worked out previous to joining a gym and getting a new job, respectively, and neither one of them had ever done any weight training, either.

Pulling back on the cardio in the first scenario and adding more body weight training (i.e. variety) allowed for more weight loss and also toning of loser areas on the body. The person who worked and walked all day also incorporated weight training and started to see more muscle development as well.

And they both changed their diet, drinking more water and less salty and foods filled with fat.

Sometimes even the most ardent and amazing workout isn’t what your body is going to respond to at that very moment. Those who eat well, exercise and don’t lose weight shouldn’t completely abandon ship, but rather alter what they’re doing.

What works for some (cardio every day) might not work for others. You could argue that finding that magic bullet of sorts is key to not only get started but implement once your body catches up with your current exercise regimen.

Variety is key and so is intensity and upping your gym or at home workout routine game so that your body won’t know what hit it, and you can effectively trick it into losing even more weight and reaching those intended goals, thus breaking through any plateau poised to stand in your way.

Time Sensitive: Losing weight doesn’t take hours in gym

Exercise and losing weight are topics that are filled with myths.

From whether or not you should work out in the morning to wondering if eating carbs is good or bad, or the constant debate about weight training being a bad thing since you’ll build big, bulky muscles, working out ironically could be less taxing then figuring out what to believe.

But as much as misnomers make for interesting chatter, you’ll tend to get bogged down on the discussion if you’re not seeing results or are having trouble getting started as far as what to do and how to ultimately lose weight.

One fact remains about exercise, often overlooked for a number of reasons: you don’t have to spend hours and hours in the gym or at home working out to lose weight. The key to weight loss is caloric difference, meaning you are taking in less calories then you were previously and that exercise plays a role in burning them off.

Exercise is about heart rate, not sitting around and moving to burn those same calories versus the alternative of doing nothing. The average person exercises, or should, for 60 minutes per week.

Per week; that’s right not 60 minutes in a day or even 60 minutes by Wednesday after work but rather for the entire week. The obesity epidemic isn’t about individuals who work out for a few minutes a day but those who are getting absolutely zero minutes in as far as time spent working out.

So when you hear another myth, the one that states you can work out for 10 minutes every day and still benefit, is actually one you can’t debunk. Now, you could argue that those 10 minutes aren’t going to make much difference as far as weight loss goes but again that would be short sighted on your part. Any sort of physical activity, coupled with a diet filled with vegetables, protein and minimal starches (and yes this diet is the key) is going to jump start your metabolism into thinking it’s about to run a 5K when in actuality you may have just done some light weight training or walked around the neighborhood a few times.

Yes, that’s it everyone. Those 10 minute per day workouts hardly are worth skipping. In fact, they seem like the most realistic and adequate place to get started.

And at the end of the day, getting started or doing just a few minutes a day might just be better then what you’re doing now and be the catalyst to can the excuses of not enough time and find a way to a healthier you.

Desk Slob: Why your desk job needs exercise

From desk job to desk slob, you wouldn’t be the first person to sit down on day one of your job and only a few months to years later turn into a barely recognizable figure thanks to weight gain and a posture that looks painful and prehistoric at best.

Do you actually pay attention to how your sitting at work? Do you sit back in your chair? Do you take time throughout the day or at lunch to take a walk in between emails? Is that report due at the end of the day pushing your shoulders forward and ultimately leading to a slouch you can’t repair?

If the answer to any of those questions are answered affirmatively, your desk job is doing you in, but the good news is that can be turned around rather easily and fairy fast.

It starts with how you’re exercising at home, and if you’ve taken the approach of doing certain moves and adapting your fitness routine to strengthen muscles that are previously being held hostage by your work posture.

How exactly do you fix that work slouch and slumping physique?

Believe it or not, your exercise routine, the one that can help reverse your slouching posture, starts with taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day and simply touching your toes. This strengthens your back muscles and gives you the kind of flexibility that makes sitting up straight a breeze, versus the alternative of hunching over while you type. If your lower back is weak, you’re feel it when you sit up straight. A rudimentary toe touch can take away that pain and ease you back into sitting up straight.

Certain yoga poses and moves also help, preferably when you lie on your stomach and arch your back downward and lift your head and chin up. This, again, stretches out your lower back.

For the weight lifters in the group, you want to do one exercise in particular. The seated row is a middle back lift move that will put muscles where you didn’t have them before and help you arch your back while you’re sitting. Be careful on this one, however, as you want to sit up straight while you’re doing them and only engage your back to move the weight. Using your entire body is only going to turn your back exercise into a full body pull that is more pendulum than postural beneficial.

You can’t avoid your job, and certain sitting at a desk, so taking the steps to fix your posture start with getting up and moving around from time to time but also taking that mindset into the gym and getting back to work while getting work in for your back.

Fit to be Tied: Why over-exercising is easily overlooked

We live in an age of obesity and the general public struggling with their weight, so the idea that someone actually can overexercise seems silly.

Half of the population is overweight, and obesity in both adults and children continues to soar to record heights. We’re eating unhealthy and hardly exercising, with less than 15 percent of the population belonging to a gym or exercise facility.

Those numbers aren’t getting any better, even though the masses make it a point to talk about how important eating right and exercise is.

But the fact remains that overexercising is a real thing, and plenty of the fitness crowd takes to walking, running, lifting weights and anything else activity oriented to far. The trouble with that mindset is you’re actually doing more harm to your body, your muscles don’t recover the way they should and you end up being sore, fatigued and having the exact opposite feeling it should when you exercise.

How exactly can you tell if you’re overexercising?

For starters, like previously mentioned, you are tired all the time and what once was a propensity to exercise as much as possible turns into skipped sessions. Realistically, you should exercise 3 to 4 days per week, unless of course you’re Hugh Jackman and the next “Wolverine” movie requires you to hit the weights and cardio twice per day for seven days.

Your body also will tell you two other ways that you’re hitting the gym too much and too often. You won’t be able to sleep very much, and that is because you’re so amped up all the time that your heart racing overtakes your body and its ability to get some serious and much needed rest.

The purpose of exercise is to stay fit, keep your heart, mind healthy but exercising too much is easily counterproductive.
Exercise is supposed to stimulate, but even the simplest workout is going to feel as though you’re trying to pull the Titanic across the Atlantic Ocean with your teeth. What typically is the status quo for your workouts turns into a serious letdown at the gym.

As much as we want to exercise and we equate exercising with losing weight and getting fit, you can’t change the world (i.e. lose 50 pounds) in a day. Exercise is a marathon, not a sprint and being diligent is often confused with being intense and pushing your body to the brink of exhaustion.

While that mentality works sporadically, you can’t sustain it mostly because you body won’t allow it to happen.

Traveling Stand: Why fitness and traveling can go hand in hand

The biggest plight that a person who travels faces is trying to find the time, the place and the energy to exercise.

If you’re someone who extensively drives, flies or travels for their job and eating well and exercising regularly is engrained into your at home life, you understand just how daunting all that can be when you’re not in the comfort of your own home.

Instead of the friendly confines of your kitchen and access to your own food, you’re left at the mercy of hotel breakfast, local restaurants and a typical gym that consists of about a third or less of the equipment you’ve become accustomed too locally.
Trying to keep that same pace is going to take a little more focus and drive and commitment on your part as you travel.

For instance, you want to stick to the same basic diet of high protein and low carbohydrate that you follow when you’re not traveling. Fast food restaurants tend to be tempting at that moment, much the same way that breakfast buffet and free coupon are as well at the hotel.

You want to avoid overeating at breakfast and stick to eggs, fruit and a small amount of carbs, such as one piece of toast or better yet oatmeal.

The fast food element works the same, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads and avoiding foods high in fat and sugar.
The exercise part might be a little more difficult given that the gyms and workout areas are minimal, but you can’t go wrong with two types of working out: cardio and circuit training. Every hotel gym has some sort of treadmill or elliptical and those can be your best friend when you’re not at liberty to do much else.

Thirty minutes of cardio will be more than enough to suffice until you get back to your regular routine. The circuit again is another product of your environment, given those machines and a few random dumbbells will be at your disposal.

Your best bet is to hit every body part as part of a circuit, and keep the weight training at a minimum, but with high reps and low weights (because that’s about all you have).

Exercise isn’t about having a large scale exercise room, group exercise classes, personal training or even eating clean when it suits the person but instead making the most of working out no matter the circumstance or where you happen to be at any given moment.

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