Sunday, Nov 28, 2021

Summer Slim Down Part 4: 4 Ways to Exercise for Life, for Real

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Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD
Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD is a nutrition communications dietitian whose joy and passion is to empower women to live healthy, balanced lives that are fulfilling and free of guilt and shame. She loves sharing real-life strategies to choosing nourishing foods, fitting in fitness and looking beyond the mirror. Jennifer enjoys encouraging women on her blog, Healthy Inspiration, taking walks with her daughter, cooking with her husband and trying out different kinds of physical activity.

You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.  –Mark Hyman, MD

Exercise is a critical component to overall health and has an abundance of benefits! While individuals can slim down without exercise, it makes the process a lot faster when exercise is involved.  Not only that, exercise helps tone muscle so that YOU appear more fit and firm!

But talking about exercise and doing exercise are two different things.  Carving out time to move, sweat and get your heart rate elevated can be quite the challenge!  Most individuals have good intentions but their day gets busy… Ever said that?!  

So, how do we make the leap from ‘good intentions’ to lifestyle habit?  These are 4 action steps you can take to slim down and take your fitness to the next level!  

1. Add On 5 Minutes

The biggest myth people believe is that they don’t have enough time to exercise.  It is easy to create a perfect scenario in our heads that exercise must look a certain way and last a specific length to be “worth it.”  But if you keep believing that lie, you will stay stuck.  

If you don’t believe that 5 minutes of exercise each day can boost your health and fitness level, then prepare to be amazed when you read this article.  And, this researched exercise method is proven to give you awesome results in less time!

What must happen is adapting the belief that “something is always better than nothing.” Always.  If you begin to think that way, you begin to look at your schedule differently. Instead of seeing ‘no time,’ you will begin to see little pockets of time OR how small tweaks can help you add it in.

While the American College of Sports Medicine recommends individuals participate in 30-60 minutes of exercise most days per week, it is important to begin by taking 1 step exactly where you are.  Everyone can find 5 minutes!  Believe me- it’s waiting to be found!  If you are already exercising, then tack those 5 minutes on to what you are doing right now.  If exercise is not a habit, then begin with 5.  

Interestingly, it is important to note that exercise benefits exist even if a workout is broken up into shorter sessions through the day.  While most individuals find it easier to complete an entire workout at one time, others may find it easier to break it up.

This 5-minute cardio workout will get you sweating in no time.  There are many more that can be found using a search engine.  All you need to do is have your sneakers ready to go!

ACTION STEP: Realistically assess how much exercise you currently get on average.  Set a goal of your current exercise time + 5 minutes.  Commit to this each day this week!  

2. Commit to the Habit…Like Brushing Your Teeth

Every morning you wake up and brush your teeth.  Then, 18 hours later, you brush your teeth (and maybe floss) and go to bed.  It’s non-negotiable – you just do it!  Regardless of whether you are traveling, on vacation, exhausted from a long day or have in-laws visiting for a long weekend, you still do it.  The goal with exercise is for it to become habit – the way you live.  That’s when you know it’s a lifestyle.

It’s not about IF you will exercise today, but WHEN you will exercise today.  People don’t ask themselves if they want to brush their teeth, they do it because they want to have teeth when they are 75 and enjoying retirement!  Decide to make exercise a non-negotiable activity.  It won’t look the same every day – that’s okay!  You likely won’t be able to devote the same time every single day either.  Even when you are out of town, there are creative solutions to fit in fitness.  If you decide exercise is what you do every, single, day, then you will make it happen.

ACTION STEP: Create a mantra or find an inspiring quote and put it in 2 or 3 places in your home, office, car, etc, to remind you of your commitment to yourself and motivate you when the day has been tough.

3. Allow for 1 Grace Day

The reality is that life happens and interferes with well-intentioned plans.  While you may set out each day to exercise, you might oversleep or need to leave the house an hour early for a meeting or be traveling all day long.  The probability that something will occur each week to interrupt your plans is very high.  So, learn to be okay with that and even plan for it.  

For some, the grace or rest day may need to change each week, and for others, it might be consistent.  Some individuals choose Sunday to rest, no matter what.  Others find that the weekend is easier to fit in exercise than weekdays.  Decide what will work best for you and your schedule.  

On these grace days, allow yourself the mental rest along with the physical rest.  Don’t shame yourself or guilt yourself to doubling your workout the next day.  Give yourself 1 day off each week and be okay with that.  

Remind yourself of the importance of rest, rejuvenation, and fun!  It’s okay to be active on these days!  God gave us bodies to move!  But, you don’t need to plan a workout.

ACTION STEP: Look at your calendar this week and choose 1 day to allow for rest.  Consider which day it might be difficult to work in exercise due to scheduled events.

4. Plan WorkOuts 1 Week In Advance

Have you ever wasted 10 minutes trying to figure out what type of exercise you were in the mood to do?  I have!  Those are precious minutes you can’t reclaim!  Instead, look at your calendar once a week and plan out when you will workout, how long and what you will do.  This allows you to observe any potential conflicts and visualize busy days so that you can prepare your mind and schedule to make YOU a priority.  

While some individuals might keep workouts at the same time every day, others might need to change it up depending on a work or family activities schedule.  You don’t need to do what someone else is doing.  Just do what will work for you.  

Good intentions are not actions so make sure that your plan is realistic.  It needs to be challenging enough to be motivating, but not overwhelming.

ACTION STEP: Review your calendar and schedule 1 week of exercise workouts, fitting them into your day.  Make sure that they are an appointment like any other scheduled commitment.  Decide what activity you will do that day and how long you will spend.  Also, consider what items you may need to have with you or how you can troubleshoot potential conflicts.  For example, keep a backup pair of sneakers, socks and workout clothes in the car if you forget to pack them.

So, what’s the play call?

The way to see consistent results is a consistent lifestyle.  The definition of lifestyle is “the way in which a person or group lives life.”  If exercise (or eating habits) fluctuate, it’s unlikely you will see consistent results.  

The most frustrating part of attempting to “slim down” is when we expect to see results but they don’t show up.  Creating patterns and habits that are consistent with your health values are the best way to guarantee you will feel and see results you desire.  

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. –Ecclesiastes 4:11(TLB)

You hold the change you want to see.  You can move beyond good intentions and actually create exercise habits that stick.  But if you keep waiting for the perfect week to start, you will be disappointed – it won’t come.  

Choose change today.
Take action.
Then, give yourself a pat on the back – most people can’t do that.
Be the one who can.


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