I have maintained a healthy weight for the past twelve years after being more than thirty pounds heavier than I am now.
Our media is saturated with advertising for diets, supplements, weight loss companies, and diet foods. All of these options and this glut of information are confusing. But weight loss is not rocket science.
As I was once told by a fitness instructor named Glynnis, “It’s input versus output.” If you consume (eat) more calories than you expend, you will gain weight. If the balance sheet is even at the end of the day, your weight will remain the same. If you expend more energy than you consume, you will lose weight. Simple, right?
For me, the key was exercise.
Women must exercise. We need the endorphins which affect our well being, we need to keep our muscles supple, and we need to keep our bones strong with weight bearing exercise in order to avoid osteoporosis. In fact, the Mayo Clinic even advocates exercise for women with osteoporosis. It is essential to our health and well being.
Where to Start?
I recently saw Cindy Crawford interviewed on the Rachael Ray show. When asked if she enjoyed exercise she replied that she enjoyed the benefits, but that if someone could come up with a way she could maintain her health and weight without it, she’d be thrilled.
I exercise six days a week. Sometimes I enjoy it. Often running is like meditation for me; I work out a problem that has been niggling at me or I come up with an idea. I also like to mix up my program with something different like a day of skiing or a hike in the mountains.
Mostly exercise is a chore that I fit into my day because I, too, love its benefits. I may not enjoy the exercise itself, but I do love feeling fit, strong, and healthy. I love fitting into my clothes and being able to indulge in treats like red wine and chocolate. It is a crucial part of my lifestyle.
Just Get Moving
That is where to start. I started with walking. I loaded up my walkman with a tape (it was a long time ago) and walked. I walked every morning, and after a while I walked every morning and every evening. So, just move. Dance in your living room, walk the dog, walk around the local park with a friend while your kids play. Just begin to move.
When Will There Be Results?
It takes about three weeks to make a habit. So, in that first little while after committing to exercise, write your planned exercise onto your calendar or in your diary. Put your workout clothes out the night before if you exercise in the morning or on your bed before you leave for work so you will see them when you get home. Make exercise dates with friends. Buy a nice workout outfit so you feel good when you’re in it.
You will start to feel better almost right away. Yes, there may be achy muscles, but you will feel more energetic, you will feel the benefits of endorphins, and you will have the mental satisfaction of having done it.
The external results will be seen within about six weeks. So you must hang in there. Six weeks. You can do that. Remember, with every extra calorie you burn, you are not only losing weight, you are “amping up” your metabolism. Your body will become a calorie burning machine if you keep it up.
Once you start to feel and then see the results, you will probably want to mix it up a little and consider other forms of exercise. This is important. You must find exercise that engages you, exercise you will want to do. I do not enjoy swimming or yoga. I get bored, so despite knowing the benefits, I rarely, if ever, participate in these forms of exercise. This is where you get to experiment. Beware—once you start to feel and look better, you may just become addicted to the benefits of exercise. You may even end up a (gasp in horror) gym junkie.
You will also need to introduce resistance training so you build up your muscles. This does not mean that you will “bulk up.” My muscles are stronger and more developed than ever and I am far leaner than I ever was. In fact, I turn forty this year and look and feel better than I did at thirty. Muscles burn through energy, so build yours up.
There is a lot of information out there. You may feel that there is too much information, but you need to educate yourself. If many of the sources are telling you the same thing, then you can probably accept these as truths.
Consider these truths: Women need to eat more protein, fresh vegetables, and grains. Women need to do weight-bearing exercise three to five times per week. Women should take a multi-vitamin for women every day. These statements are all true and difficult to ignore.
Your health is the single most important thing in your life. Without good health you cannot do, be, or give what you want. Look after yourself. Get moving.
Magazines such as Women’s Health, Health, and Self are a wealth of health information.