Are you trying to workout, but it’s not working-out?

Since we just began the New Year in the Islamic calendar, and we are fast approaching 2012, many people are thinking about their new year resolution.  Are you thinking about how to get your bottom out of that couch and start exercising?  If yes, then you’re one of many millions around the world (not actual statistics, but hey I need a break from doing literature research).

Isn’t it amazing how we promise ourselves so many times that this year will be the ONE for us to get into the healthy habit of working out?  Yet, we fall short of fulfilling that promise?  Well, I know you’re like that, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this so far.  Oh, and if you’re married, this probably makes more sense to you.  Do you have children?  Then you’re probably thinking, does this guy know me?

I find it amazing the excuses I give myself in order to get out of working out.  Here are some examples of me talking to myself:

I’m just getting off work.  Great! I can go workout now.  Well, I just got out and my body deserves some rest.  Let me go home first, eat, and relax a little, then I can hit the gym energized.

After eating.  Oooh this was so delicious.  I’m stuffed now.  I can’t go to the gym like this.  It is recommended that I need to wait at least 2 hours after eating before I start exercising (not sure if even this is true, but it sounds like a legitimate medical excuse to me!)  Because if I go exercise now, I will have all my blood routed to my muscles rather than my intestines, and that is not healthy because the food will not be properly digested and I would lose all the benefits of eating (if I’m stuffed, then most likely the meal was NOT healthy at all, but works for an excuse!)

OK, so the 2 hours are almost over.  But wait, before I go exercise, I need to fulfill my fatherly obligations.  I am a good father after all.  So I help my wife get the kids to do their homework and get ready for school next day.

Ah great, now the kids are on bed, gave them hugs and kisses and wished them happy dreams.  OK so nooow I can go workout.  I look at the time, oh no, it’s 9:00pm .  If I exercise now, it will be 10 pm by the time I’m done.  By then, I will be very hyper from all the endorphins and I won’t be able to sleep.  That’s not good.  I need to be up early tomorrow to get the girls ready for school and get myself ready for work.  Ahh I can’t workout tonight.  Let me just sit on the couch and check my email very quickly before I go to bed.

That’s good, if checking email is the only thing that will happen.  You find yourself checking email, facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube, and the list goes on.  You start making a conversation with your wife/husband about something you saw online, then you start talking about your day, your jobs, your kids, and it goes on and on.  You look at the time, oh it’s midnight, if not later.  You get up, feeling guilty that you didn’t exercise and at the same time feeling bad that you stayed up all this time.

If you’re single, you would’ve probably done the same thing with some modifications.  For example, instead of helping your kids and having conversations with your spouse, then you would’ve probably sat on the couch and watched a lot of TV and spent a lot of time on the net.

And the cycle continues.  Another big one that breaks my exercise routine is vacation and traveling.

I know that physical activity is important for my health, as you might know as well.  You probably also know that you need to workout for at least 30 minutes a day.  Well, if you didn’t know, now you do.  Actually, the recommendation is to do moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.  You’re not convinced?  Check out the guidelines on the CDC’s website for exercise (aakh, I could’nt resist, I just had to do some literature search!).  You can choose which age group you belong to, and it will tell you what you need to do.  It’s neat!

Another important issue when exercising is to watch your hear rate.  To gain most benefits from your exercise, you must maintain your heart rate within a recommended range depending on your age.  There is a method for calculating it, and in many gyms you can find such information readily available.  For more information on heart rate and how to calculate your target heart rate during exercise, you can check this website for the Cleveland Clinic on Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention.

You’re probably asking by now, OK enough with the information.  Tell me what I need to do in order to start exercising and maintain my workout routine.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the magic answer for you.  What I found works out for me, was to just get up and START once I get the slightest urge to do it.  Push myself for a couple of days until my endorphins start kicking in.  After a couple of days, my body somehow starts craving those endorphins and my day doesn’t feel complete unless I exercise.  Another big one I heard, was to have a partner.  Some patients have also mentioned that their medical condition itself was the drive for them to exercise, but I don’t want you to be at this stage.  I want us to start exercising so we don’t get to that stage!  It is also important when you start, to start slow and then gradually increase the intensity.  Remember, your body hasn’t been working out for a long time.  If you work it hard, it might get too tired and achy that it will make you quit before you even started.

So, here are some important things to remember:

  • Just START.
  • Start slow and light.
  • Put realistic goals for yourself that are easily achieved.
  • If you find yourself falling short of achieving your goals, it’s not a bad idea to reevaluate them and change them so that you can actually reach them.  It doesn’t help you if you feel bad because you didn’t reach your goal!
  • It might be worthwhile to find yourself a good exercise partner.

If you have any other ideas you found work out good for you, please feel free to share them below in the comments’ section.

Thank you for reading and happy exercise!

I would like to leave you with this nice video:  23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

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