You’re back home and the memories of walking up the hill at Green Mountain are long gone. You came home full of resolve to start walking and keep up your strength training, but maybe you haven’t been able to figure out how to fit it all in. Or maybe you just don’t know where to start.
First, ditch the negative self-talk. Beating yourself up for not exercising or not doing it ‘perfectly’ isn’t going to help you achieve your fitness goals. Remember, we are not aiming for perfect. We are aiming for more movement than you had before you came to Green Mountain.
Next, keep in mind what you learned at Green Mountain: If we don’t take care of ourselves, we aren’t going to be any good to anyone. Our fitness routines make us feel better, remember? They allow us to do all those great activities of daily living that bring joy to our lives – playing with children, traveling to Italy and seeing the sights, walking along the ocean, dancing at a wedding. So, stop the negative self talk and look at your fitness routine as something that will provide the energy to do all things you want in life.
Where do I start?
Remember the basic components of physical fitness: Flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular training. When most women re-start an exercise routine, they usually start with cardio but it’s important to have a solid flexibility and strength routine, too. Focusing only on cardio can lead to injury and lack of motivation.
- Start with stretching. It only takes five minutes to move from your head to your toes to release the pressure that builds in our joints and notice major changes in how we feel day to day. Take time to focus on areas that have been aching and stretch deeper and for a longer duration. You can find the Green Mountain stretches on YouTube. Don’t forget to va-va!
- Add strength training. It’s the next step to a stronger body that can move easier. Start on the lower end and work your way up. Begin by choosing to do one exercise a day for either your upper or lower body and build from there. Aim to do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions per the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for strength training. Don’t forget that spri-tubes and dynabands are a fun switch; using the pool can be effective also.
- Now add cardio. At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we start with walking because you can do it anywhere. Do you have a neighborhood, park, or school track nearby? Most of us do, and no matter if it’s raining (they make rain jackets and umbrellas for a reason) or snowing (snowshoeing anyone?), make your way outside more often. Start walking a short distance, then go further each day that you find more energy or motivation. Remember to stretch before and after, and drink your water!
Now that I know what to do, how do I make it happen?
- Start small. You aren’t going to find 4-5 hours of time to exercise like you did at Green Mountain, so be realistic. Pick one goal for the week – and don’t make it to exercise seven days a week! For example, plan to walk on Monday. Then each week add another day or a longer time frame.
- Enjoy! If we don’t like or even love at least most of what we’re doing, we won’t do it very long. Find an activity you love – roller skating, swimming in the lake, dancing (even if it’s alone!), biking in the park. Now plan to treat yourself to this activity once a week. You’ll look forward to it and it’s one more day of exercise than you’re doing now.
- Fit exercise in. Remember, we only need 20-30 minutes of cardio at target heart rate 3-5 times per week, full body strength training 3 times per week, and stretching most days. You can even break exercise time into 10-minute snippets. Plan to do strength training while you watch your favorite show. Stretch before or after bed. Find 20 minutes at lunch to walk around the block. Add an extra 10 minutes to your mall or grocery shopping trip for some brisk walking.
- Get support. Studies show that people who exercise with others enjoy it more and do it longer. Make it a family routine to walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Meet up with your girlfriends for a walk on the beach. Go skating with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
You can do it!
Pick one goal for this week and get started reaping the benefits!