5. Getting Started—Less Is More

Every exercise program should begin with a plan. Whether you decide to work out in a gym, in your home, or start a walking program, the best success lies with a program that is incorporated into daily schedules. A common pitfall is to do too much, which can lead to muscle pain and burnout. When getting started, less is more. You need to be committed, motivated, and also enjoy what you are doing in order to gain benefits over the long haul.

Evaluate Your Health

If you have not had a recent physical examination or are over the age of sixty, you should see your doctor before you begin a regular fitness program. It is always a wise idea. Your doctor can determine if you have any health-related problems that need to be observed, such as heart problems, chest pains, high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis.

Begin Slowly

When starting an exercise program, always go at your own safe pace. I give my clients a little less to do at first. It helps to avoid injury and leaves them wanting more. The idea is to gradually challenge you. The results are more effective and your enthusiasm to move can last a lifetime.

Get Your Gear

I regularly prowl the floors of fitness conventions searching for the latest and the best in fitness gear. At the top of my list are workout shoes. They aren’t just sneakers anymore. You can choose a pair for your specific activity or get cross-trainers for all your activities. Make sure they fit. Workout clothes need to be functional and comfortable. Okay, and cute, too, if you choose. If you are walking or jogging outdoors, wear layers so you can adapt to weather changes. Most experts recommend loose clothes but I say get clothes that are comfortable and “fit.” It’s too easy to think like a fat person and eat too much in super baggy clothes. Wear workout gear that makes you look and feel your best.

Sneakers may be the most important things. When you’re buying sneakers, keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • Try on several different brands and sizes before making a selection.
  • Shop later in the day when feet are most likely swollen.
  • Try shoes on with athletic socks. Tie snugly.
  • Make sure both shoes fit. Sometimes one foot may be slightly larger.
  • Don’t just walk around in the store. Run, skip, jump, and mimic your favorite physical activity. What good is an expensive shoe on the store floor if it cramps your toes when you play basketball?

Choose Activities You Enjoy

An exercise routine is good only if it’s followed regularly. You should enjoy what you do. Try a dance class or join a walking group. Choose whatever you like, whatever keeps you going. Try watching television while walking on a treadmill or while pedaling on a stationary bike. Or read a juicy novel. Also, what about that video game trend? I love the dancing games—it’s a great workout for the entire family, right in your living room.

Make a Schedule

Just as you should plan your meals and snacks, it is important to plan your activities. Put fitness dates on the calendar just like you would do for a meeting or appointment.

Alternate Your Routine

Select a variety of activities you enjoy to avoid boredom and to ensure that you stimulate different muscle fibers. If you walk or bike regularly, choose different routes. If you go to a fitness club, try different group classes or equipment on different days of the week. At home, switch from the treadmill to jumping rope.


  YOUR Life

Boredom is the number one reason that many people stop exercising. If your exercise routine is too boring, find something else.

Find a Friend

People often succeed with workout buddies. It keeps the workout fun. Friends (and family members) who join efforts offer encouragement to keep you motivated. And what a great way to visit with others! Just make sure they truly are good buddies and not friends who secretly want you to be heavier than they are out of insecurity. Unfortunately, this seems to happen all the time.

Challenge Yourself

Throughout this whole program I have stressed the importance of setting goals for your diet. It’s just as important to set workout goals. Establishing both short- and long-term goals can help to challenge and inspire you.

6. Enter the Healthy Heart Rate Zone

If you want to lose weight quickly and safely, you need to enter the healthy heart rate zone during your cardio workout. This is the range where your heart and lungs get the best and safest workout. Your training heart rate range should be between 60 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate you can achieve during vigorous exercise.

First, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are forty years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 (220 minus 40).

You also need to check your pulse during exercise. This allows you to count the number of times your heart beats and to monitor the intensity of the workout. Place your index and middle fingers—don’t use your thumb, as it has its own pulse—either on your wrist or neck. While watching the second hand on a clock, count the number of beats for ten seconds. Multiply this number by six to determine the number of beats per minute.

Cyndi’s Secrets

Just when you think you’ve had enough water to drink, have some more. A person’s thirst mechanism is not a good indicator of the body’s need for fluids, and drinking the extra fluid allows for sufficient intake.

The following chart shows you where your target heart rate zone should be for your age. If you are a beginner, your workout should be at the lower end of the range, around 55 to 60 percent or 108 to 135 beats per minute. If you are advanced you can workout at a higher intensity up to 85 percent of maximum heart rate.

You should aim to exercise within a safe target heart rate zone. This zone is the range in which your heart is obtaining an effective workout. Varying with ages and fitness abilities, this zone is a range between a person’s resting heart rate and their maximum heart rate. When you begin a fitness program, aim for the lower end of your zone; then seek to increase it as your ability increases.

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