It happens very frequently. Someone who hasn’t exercised in years wants to start exercising, eating right and living a healthy lifestyle.
That person starts exercising and starts eating healthy. But within 1 to 2 months they stop. Why?
Did they start out too hard? Did they injure themselves? Did they reach the end of their resolve to eat sprouts and greens all day long? Was it all too much? Are there people who are just not meant to exercise and eat right? Are there people who are not meant to get into good shape, reduce pain and increase their activity levels?
Certainly nothing pertains to 100% of all people. But, overall, our bodies are designed very similarly to everyone else’s. There is a saying in anatomy that we are all as different on the inside as we are on the outside, so there certainly are differences within everyone’s body.
Our bodies will all react differently to stresses put on them. Some people are just genetically gifted. That is why some of us will become professional athletes while most of us will not. Few people will be able to jump into exercising full force and go from not exercising at all to exercising 5 days a week consistently, in a short period of time. Most of us, however, will not be able to jump into exercise full force without easing our way into it.
If someone is able to jump into an exercise system without easing their way into it, chances are there are some other forces working for them. Maybe they are just genetically lucky,they age gracefully and their body can hold up to the stress of jumping into exercise in a short amount of time. Maybe they are younger and recover better than we do by the time we reach age 40 or 50. Maybe they have extensive experience with exercise and know how to get into it without hurting themselves. Maybe they know the right exercises to do that won’t harm their body. More than likely they are just lucky.
There will always be someone who knows someone whose locker mates’ roommates’ cousin had the same symptoms and pain that you do. The cousin jumped into exercise, ran a marathon and got rid of all of their pain (or something along those lines).
But the reality for most of us is that if we are out of shape (this means that you haven’t exercised consistently for 2 months or more) and are deconditioned, we are not going to be able to just jump right into exercise. If you do jump right into exercise, you will very easily injure yourself and have to stop exercising because of that injury.
If you haven’t exercised consistently for 2 months or longer, you will be deconditioned and not able to hold up to the demands of moderate exercise. When doing a new exercise, your muscles will not be used to doing that new motion. Therefore they will get sore very easily from a new exercise.
You have to get yourself in shape to begin to exercise. If you haven’t exercised in years, you can’t expect to get a good sweat going the first time you workout. Just as you can’t expect to have the best work out of your life the very first workout you do. Just as you can’t expect to drop 20 pounds in the first week back to exercising.
A realistic goal for weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per month. This may not seem like much, but over a year it will add up. You didn’t become overweight in one day, one week, one month or even one year. So you can’t expect to lose all of your extra weight in one week, one month, or even one year. The slower you take the weight off, the longer it will stay off.
Lose weight quick schemes never work. They may work short term, but they will not work long term for keeping weight off. They are like get rich quick schemes, they never work. If you lose the weight quickly through extreme changes to your diet and exercise you will not be able to sustain it. You cannot sustain extreme changes long term. Eventually you will have to go back to your old lifestyle and habits. If you haven’t learned sustainable changes to your lifestyle, then you will go right back to the old habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place. You have to learn how to keep the weight off long term. Exercising and eating right is the best way to keep off excess weight long term. It is the only way to keep weight off long term and to feel good.
Most of us have to slowly and consistently ease our way into exercise. That may consist of walking 5 minutes per day, 3 days a week to start. I just read a story of a woman who was wheel chair bound and had to start out with walking 3 steps a day. Then she progressed to walking to the bathroom each day. Then to walking outside the front door each day. And so on and so on. Finally, after working at it consistently for a year or two she was finally able to walk for 20 minutes.
Now walking 5 minutes a day may not seem like much, but if you are not exercising at all, it can be a lot. Activity levels are all relative. This means that you can’t compare your activity level to your friend’s activity level. You friend may have been a star collegiate athlete and has consistently exercised for the last 20 years. You may have had low back surgery or a knee replacement or something else that the person you are comparing yourself to has not had. You have to look at your own activity level and slowly try to increase it from that starting point. We all are going to have our own, different starting point.
In the Pain Free Lifestyle program I advise starting out by walking 3 times a week for 20 minutes. If this is too much for you, which it very well may be, then start with 10 minutes. If that is too much then start with 5 minutes. The main issue to focus on is that you want to start moving. If you are not exercising at all now, then even walking 10 minutes 3 days a week will make a difference. It can be as simple as walking out your front door 5 minutes and then turning around and walking back. Or walking up and down your hallway for 10 minutes. You will feel better from it. You will notice a difference in how you feel after a month of consistent exercise.
If walking is too hard on your body then do some other type of low impact aerobic exercise such as: the elliptical machine, stationary bike, stair master, rowing machine, swimming.
Too many people start out enthusiastic about exercise and go too hard at the beginning. If you go from not exercising at all to exercising an hour a day 5 days a week, you will hurt yourself. That injury will stop you from exercising. Especially if you start out running.
It takes a special type of body to be able to deal with the stress of running. For most of us, running will not be the best exercise. Running does burn more calories than walking does (or most other types of low impact aerobic exercise). Running certainly does raise the heart rate. You will get a good workout from running. The issue is that you won’t be able to do it for very long or do it consistently because of all of the pounding on your joints and all of the impact.
Short term, running will burn more calories. But I believe that long term, walking (or any other type of low impact aerobic exercise) will burn more calories over time. You will be able to walk more consistently and for longer periods then you will be able to run. Chances are that you will injure yourself from running and have to stop exercising because of that. Walking will not injure you the way that running will. Any of the low impact exercises will be better for you long term than running. You will be able to do them more consistently, more comfortably, for longer periods, and ideally for the rest of your life. And therefore you will benefit from them for the rest of your life.
As we age we don’t recover from injury and stress put on our body as well as we did when we were younger. I think that this is the major difference in our body as we age. So when you were 20 you might have been able to go from not exercising for the last 6 months to running 30 minutes 5 days a week, in no time. But 20 to 30 years later and 20 to 30 pounds extra will affect you. If you run now without getting into shape for it first, you will end up hurting yourself. It might not be during the first time you run, but you won’t recover from that run as well as you did 20/30/40 years ago. You will carry over some of that tightness and tension from all of that pounding and impact, and it will build up over time. Eventually it will build up enough to cause an injury.
If you ease into exercise you will be setting yourself up to exercise comfortably and consistently for the rest of your life. You have to get into shape to exercise. During the first few weeks if not the first few months, you won’t be getting a great workout in. How bad of shape you are in, how deconditioned you are, and how long it’s been since you have exercised consistently, will determine how long you will have to ease your way into exercise. The worse shape you are in, the more injuries you have, the slower you have to ease your way into exercise. The more you will have to stretch and balance out those tight and irritated muscles which will prime them for exercise and strengthening.
Lose weight quick schemes don’t work. Losing weight slowly and consistently and working at keeping it off long term is the only thing that works. Easing your way into exercise and learning lifestyle habits to keep you eating right and exercising for the rest of your life is the smart way to do it. Exercising and eating right consistently to reduce pain and increase activity levels is very possible and very doable. It is, the Pain Free Way.