Starting From Scratch

Thu, 27 Oct. 2011 - 3:58 p.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

By Jenny Hadfield


As a coach and personal trainer, I know the winter months can be tough to reach any weight loss and fitness goals made at the start of the year. However, with warmer weather upon us, the next six months are perfect for getting outside and exercising. Whether it’s walking, running, in-line skating, tennis, cycling, swimming, or softball, exercising outdoors provides us with a fun, versatile way to burn calories.
 
I encourage my clients to reach the full potential of their workouts by being motivated and committed for the long term throughout the year. It takes more than jogging a few miles once a week or participating in the weekly company softball game. Here are tips to keep you focused on achieving your fitness goals for not only the outdoor months, but for the rest of your life:
 
  • If you are inactive, begin with frequent but shorter workouts (25-30 minutes, 3-5 days per week) and let your body adapt to the change in activity level. Gradually increase the time of each workout after completing 12 sessions.
  • If you are active 3-5 times per week, add 1-2 high intensity workouts per week to boost metabolism, effort level, and fitness.
  • Fitness devices, such as heart rate monitors, calorie counters, body fat analyzers, and pedometers are very important in monitoring progress and keeping people on the right track to meeting their goals. Even if you’re not technically savvy, get a pedometer, which helps count each step you make and helps motivate you.
  • Drop those winter pounds efficiently by keeping a fuel log. There are free online resources that make it easy to keep track of your meals, calories and exercise.
  • Think of exercising as group therapy. Before you know it, the workout is done, you’ve enjoyed it, and had quality time with your friends.
  • Avoid doing the same exercise or machine over and over again. Your body will become efficient at that exercise and won’t burn as many calories as when you first started.
  • Incorporate strengthening exercises into your regimen 2-3 times per week. Increasing lean muscle tissue will boost resting metabolism, help decrease inches from your body and provide a strong base to prevent injuries.
  • Be patient. Getting active takes time. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Exercising regularly can become a habit over time. Make it a priority in your life and you’ll find 3-4 weeks later you will wonder how you managed without it. 
 
Trying to get into shape may be hard work. According to a recent fitness survey of personal trainers, after the first two months of the year, almost 85% of those who began their fitness training stopped. However, working on a healthy lifestyle at the start of the summer months will help you get into a routine for years to come.
 
Jenny Hadfield is co-owner of Chicago Endurance Sports and the author of Marathoning for Mortals. She recently participated in the Antarctica Marathon.
 
(RUNNING & FITNEWS® April / May 2007 • Volume 25, Number 3)


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