“Exercise should be a celebration of what your body can do,
not a punishment for what you ate.”
The first three posts in this January series addressing weight loss were about food and diet. This final post talks about exercise.
My editor had to remind me to write about exercise. Why? Because I don’t think of exercise as a weight loss technique. For me, exercise has almost the opposite effect. The more I work out, the hungrier I become and the more I eat. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill, exercise puts me in an endless loop of eating more to support my activity. I topped in at the highest weight of my life when I was training for triathlons. I was exercising a lot and eating a lot too. This wasn’t a problem-muscle is heavy, and I felt fit and strong, but my weight was high. Physical activity (or lack of it) changes the number of calories you need, and this needs to be factored in when considering weight loss. It’s not a bad thing to need more calories but it’s important to choose the right ones
That said, I do think exercise is important-just for different reasons. I exercise to keep my body strong and toned, to lift my mood and because I like seeing what my body can do. For me, exercise is a lifestyle choice more than a weight loss aid.
There are tons of scientific studies showing the benefits of exercise, from brain health to improved immune system, from reducing depression and dementia to slowing the aging process. Probably you want to add exercise to your lifestyle but if you aren’t sure how, here are two things that have made it easier for me.
Don’t go it alone
Find a team sport, a group class, a workout buddy or a personal trainer. Having someone waiting for you makes all the difference when you are trying to build a new habit. For me, this has ranged from running clubs, triathlon training groups, swimming lessons, spin classes, Krav Maga classes and most recently, beach volleyball.
I should mention, I started beach volleyball in my 40s with no prior experience and with massive language barrier issues. And it was fine. 🙂 Don’t let age, lack of experience or any other obstacle hold you back. There is always a way.
Adopt mini habits
Steven Guise wrote his book “Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results” after he challenged himself to do one push-up a day for a year. The results changed his life and served as a catalyst for his best-selling book. There is science to support this, but willpower is a limited resource. You need to use it wisely. If you start small, you set yourself up for success. And the reverse is true.
If you are just starting out, pick a modest exercise goal and be determinedly consistent. One push-up, one 10-minute walk, one minute of sit-ups, whatever it is, figure out a goal that works for you and be absolute in your commitment to your tiny goal.
My own routine is beach volleyball practice three times a week, Nabhi Kriya for Prana Apana as my daily yoga practice and about five minutes of core work (sit-ups, leg lifts, etc.) per day. These days I’m training to do a one-armed push-up so I’m also doing lots of push-ups. 🙂 I find this workout rhythm with a clean, nutrient-dense diet leaves me feeling happy in my mood, clear in my mind and with lots of energy in my body.
So how do you get started? Lots of ways… Join a gym, find a team sports group, join a running club or if you prefer something more private, you can use my YouTube channel and do a Kundalini Yoga kriya at home every day. For those in Athens, join any of our upcoming classes. You might especially like our Monday night Fitness+ Kundalini Yoga class where we run, do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and then yoga. Find what works for you–the important thing is to get started. 🙂