Last week we addressed why you can’t just go to the gym in order to compensate for your habitual overeating. I hope that idea has had time to sink in, and that you’ve accepted what you really need to work on instead.
BUT, as a personal trainer and gym owner, I still recognize the significant value and importance of regular exercise in improving your life.
So what kind of exercise SHOULD you do?
I have two BIG answers to this:
Exercise that you will actually DO
First and foremost, a workout program that you can and will do on a consistent and long-term basis is FAR better than the perfect workout program that you resent and dread doing (for the entire 2 weeks you follow it, anyway). I’m a big advocate for daily movement for everybody, regardless of your gym membership status. Many of the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can be achieved with a 15-30 minute daily walk. Some simple calisthenics in the morning (pushups or modified pushups, bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, etc.) or a few Vinyasa sun salutations are both free and easy ways to add movement to your day without ever leaving your house. Check out the EES Handbook over on the right hand side if you need more activity ideas to get started!
Movement and exercise should ADD to your life, not detract from it. The key is to find an expression of movement that you actually enjoy. It should offer you a feeling of peace and accomplishment upon completion, and shouldn’t feel like yet another chore on your long list of daily responsibilites. In fact, try to find an activity in which time seems to pass too quickly, and you actually look forward to the next opportunity to participate. Pursuing movement you enjoy forces you to carve out time for yourself (or with others, if that’s your style) and gives you a chance to connect with your body. Making time for your health each day reminds you that YOU are deserving of your own love and care, just as you love and care for your family and friends.
Exercise that makes you BETTER
Now that you’ve eased your way in to a regular workout/fitness/movement routine and found that you CAN enjoy physical activity, the next step is to strive to improve your physical capacity. Given your current health status, quality of life, and fitness ability, figure out what elements of fitness you might want or need to improve. Do you get winded walking the dog up the street? Do you have a hard time maneuvering your body in and out of your car? Do you need to get assistance moving your groceries from the shopping cart into your trunk? Do you even try to lift something off of a high shelf, or do you immediately ask for help?
If you have no idea what needs improving or how to do it, here’s a hint:
Strength will help.
Being stronger is better, in almost every instance. The stronger of two retirees is likely to live longer, and with a better quality of life. The stronger athlete tends to succeed more often in sporting events. The stronger of two runners is usually faster. The stronger individual is less prone to injury in daily life. The stronger you are, the easier everything becomes.
Strength training also provides health benefits that are generally associated with other forms of activity, such as improved cardiovascular fitness (if you’ve ever performed a set of 10 relatively heavy squats, you know that strength training can get your heart a-thumpin’), injury prevention, body awareness, mobility and activity level later in life, muscle “tone” and (I know you were waiting for this)… fat loss.
Notice that I put fat loss LAST.
Yes, I know you are here to learn about how to overcome your emotional barriers that stand between you and a healthier and happier life. I know you were hoping for the best and most efficient fat loss exercise. If so, you’ve forgotten the message from last week: exercise is not the most direct and efficient path to fat loss!
One of the first steps in regaining your sanity around food and your body is recognizing that fat loss is not the goal to end all goals, and its pursuit should not dominate your life.
What else can you ask of your body, aside from it being smaller or skinnier or smoother or more toned? How about asking it to do more, to be more of a participant in life and less of an observer? I guarantee that when your physical body doesn’t hold you back because it’s strong and healthy, a whole new world of opportunities will open up to you.
Check out one of my clients, Loretto (along with her husband, Tom, another one of my clients), living fully and enjoying PARTICIPATING in a game of wiffle ball with her family. Before she started training at the gym, she would sit on the side and watch her family at play, declining any offer to participate. Her husband Tom (the pitcher, and another one of my clients who is moving quite well!), showed me this video and my heart swelled with pride….especially when he told me that Loretto actually VOLUNTEERED to play in this game!
In the pursuit of living and engaging more fully with the world around you, you will achieve enough fat loss to live a happy and healthy life — no obsessing necessary.
BONUS: Exercise that feels like a SPRINT
Sometimes, you just need to put everything you’ve got into your workout. You need to leave it all on the table. You’re required to be in your body, present, in that moment of exertion. You won’t be thinking about what’s for dinner, or reminding yourself about that mail that needs to get sent out today.
You need to feel your lungs burn, your heart pound, your legs ache, and then tell yourself to go even faster. You challenge yourself to push through your discomfort, knowing that the pain is temporary and the reward is worthy. Nothing creates more mental toughness, sense of accomplishment, and tired satisfaction than sprinting.*
…And also, in the right doses, sprinting just so happens to be an excellent tool for fat loss.
*Sprinting doesn’t have to be “running,” per se. It can certainly be done on a bike, a rower, pushing a sled, etc. Be sure to work hard while respecting your current ability and fitness level, and challenge yourself safely. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to consult a doctor or health professional before you begin an exercise program.
I could write for days on exercise, but you’ll have to keep checking back in for more! If you are interested in learning more about incorporating these types of workouts, then you should definitely sign up for the EES handbook and subscribe to my newsletter!
Always here to help,
PS – Let’s hear it from you! Let me know, either in the comments or back on the Facebook page, 1) What is your favorite physical activity, something you could do happily for hours and hours on end? 2) Do you strength train? How has getting stronger changed your everyday life?