Melissa MacDonald DC
End the Cycle of Resolution & Just Get Active
“Those who say I can and those who say I can’t, are both usually right”
New Year is a few days past us and many people are probably already at the great crossroads in their New Year’s exercise resolution. The issue with resolutions is similar to those of infamous get skinny quick diets. If there is an end goal set, it is easier to be discouraged if the desired results are not seen quickly enough.
How to keep from failing
Starting small and simply doing something, anything, will more effectively harbor an attitude that will lead to results. I am often asked what the best workout programs/exercises are. The answer is simplistic in appearance, it depends. It depends on what your fitness level is like, your overall experience with exercise, what restrictions you may have whether it be medical or financial. Most importantly it depends on what your goals are. Any exercise program should be specific to your particular goals and therefore there is no one size fits all exercise programs.
Where to Start
When it comes to beginning a workout program as so many do around this time of year the most common goal is to be healthier or to look better. So, what are your goals? This is a question that only you can answer. An equally important question you should ask yourself is why have you selected that goal. If you want to have “six-pack” abs, ask yourself why. When setting goals, it’s very important to understand that there is no “picture of health”. Yes, certain physiological and anatomical characteristics are often present when somebody is healthy or unhealthy, but a physical image of an ideal body should not also determine the level of one’s relative health. If you want to determine if you are healthy or unhealthy, your first step should not be to step on the scale or measure your midsection. The first step should be to visit a healthcare professional and have a physical done.
With many resolution failures, there is often a lack of accountability. Motivation is an incredibly important part of the exercise and if you know that your personal accountability is not the best then it is great to have others who can help you with it. A training/exercise partner is incredibly helpful and highly recommended. Find a partner who enjoys the same activities as you and you know will hold you accountable, or at least that you will hold each other equally accountable. In today’s modern technological world, it is so easy to simply send a text to your training partner to cancel. You can do all kinds of things to battle deterrents like these. Carpooling is very useful when you know that it is your turn to drive to the gym because your partner drove last time, it can really be the motivation you need some days.
So Many Decisions
Now that you have determined your goals, what is the best way to achieve them? There are countless ways to exercise and there is no one tried and true method that works for everyone. The best thing you can do is try different activities, exercises, and workout programs to determine what will ultimately work for you. Even if you do it for a few weeks and see amazing results but hate it to the point that you won’t do it anymore, well then, the level of effectiveness is rendered irrelevant. Many gyms and programs offer free trials or classes. They are there for a reason and should be taken full advantage of. Just be careful and do your best to not get pressured into signing a contract if you really aren’t sure that it is for you.
Without a doubt, the single most important part of any workout program is actually doing it. It doesn’t matter how much research there is behind it or how many success stories it has, you will fail at it if you don’t actually do it. By far the hardest part of going to the gym is, in fact, GOING to the gym. Doing something as simple as walking every day can help prepare your mind and body by getting into a routine. When it comes time to exercise, don’t limit yourself to thinking that being in a gym lifting weights or running on a treadmill is the only thing that constitutes as working out. There are many avenues to exercise that cannot seem like exercise. A great example would be adult recreational sports leagues. While some rec league activities like pool or bowling will most likely not offer the exercise levels required to really improve cardiac ability or improve health, there are plenty that do. Basically, if you can do the activity with a beer in your hand, it probably is not the best choice for an exercise program. Depending on the size of the population in an area there can be numerous rec league activities:
A close second in importance is safety. Many workouts require anywhere from novice to expert level experience with certain exercises to really gain the whole benefit. A great example of this would be CrossFit. CrossFit can provide a delightfully challenging workout that will lead to results quicker than many other programs. However, CrossFit often utilizes exercises that can have dangerous consequences if done incorrectly, mainly exercises such as the Olympic lifts of the clean and jerk and snatch lifts. If CrossFit is an interest it is imperative to work out with experienced and trained coaches.
Another great exercise activity is Martial Arts. Martial Arts can incorporate all of the important parts one looks for in exercise. It can build strength while improving flexibility and cardiovascular health. There are comradery and competition which will help stimulate the desire to get better and continue to participate. However, just like with any other exercise program there are some martial arts that should be avoided. I’m not going to say that any particular Martial Arts is bad. I will say that there are not many regulations when comes to who teaches Martial Arts and what their background/experience level is. There are very few things preventing someone from putting on a Gi and a black belt and saying they are an expert. If a teacher claims to be a 10th-degree black belt and looks to be only 35 years old, or if they advertise that you can earn a black belt of your own in as little as year or so, I would recommend staying away. My personal preference and suggestion would be Judo. It is an Olympic sport and determining who is a qualified instructor is much easier. Martial Arts like Judo and Jiujitsu really require body control and increasing levels of cardiovascular ability. Sparring or “rolling” with an experienced martial artist can absolutely leave you feeling like you had a good workout.
Just get moving
Ultimately, setting a new year’s resolution to exercise more is probably not going to work. If you want to be healthier, be stronger, or look a different way, it is on you to do so and a resolution simply will set unreasonable expectations on yourself. The best thing to do is anything. Start today, try some new activities and find what works for you. Don’t let people tell you what you should be doing for exercise simply because it worked for them. It could be a could reason to try what they did if you haven’t yet, but it is important to not compare yourself to others. Once you have found what you think is your thing, stick with it and find a way to hold yourself accountable. When it comes down to it you are your greatest ally and worst enemy.
We are here for you.
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