Simple Yet Difficult

Last month we discussed the basics of health and fitness. And that is really what health and fitness should be, basic. In my last column I also touched upon the fact that many people have difficulty following the basics of fitness.

Health and fitness seems to have become simple but difficult. The rules are straight forward, not complicated yet difficult to execute. To exacerbate this point, billions of dollars are spent every year on books, diet aids, equipment, hopes for a quick fix and some just sheer craziness. I mean, seriously, confess. Who has purchased or thought of purchasing that abdominal belt that delivers electric charges to the abdominal area, which will allegedly give us six pack abs? Without any effort at all of course! I’ve said it a hundred times. If it seems to good to be true it is. I read a full page ad a while ago about some pill that would make anyone fit and healthy. Just by popping this pill. It sounded so convincing they almost had me wanting to buy it! Again, fitness doesn’t work that way. It’s simple to understand yet difficult (not complicated) to execute (refer to last month for basic fitness.)

So, why the difficulty and what do we do about it? Fitness is difficult for three main reasons. One, we are misinformed. Two, we have time constraints. Three, we are lazy.

Misinformation about health and fitness is in abundance. Even, at times, when we go to a gym and/or a professional (please see my column regarding choosing a professional fitness trainer.) Health and fitness follow the biology and physiology of the human body. These facts do not change. We all need a balance of resistance training, cardiovascular training and good nutrition. Gimmicky books and products are not going to change that. Again, please refer to my past few columns.

This predicament goes hand in hand with misinformation and laziness. Yes, we have to make an effort to shop for healthy food, seek our sources for healthy fast food and make time to exercise. But we also have to search out exercise routines that fit in with our lifestyles and time table. You do not have to go to a gym in order to exercise. If you do go to a gym you do not have to be there for three hours, or even for one hour. Study after study shows that shorter, intense interval workouts (also referred to as “metabolic” workouts) are more effective for losing body fat and maintaining fitness than longer, less intense endurance workouts.

Metabolic workouts raise the heart rate, challenge the hormonal system and engage more muscle fibers in a shorter period of time than taking a traditional exercise class or sitting stagnantly on an exercise machine curling a bicep. In addition, this type of workout needs very little equipment and can be performed in limited space!

Laziness. Must this really be elaborated on? “I worked all day.” “I have to take care of the kids.” “I was out late.” Effort must be made. That’s it. Simple but difficult.

So what’s an unfit, misinformed lazy person to do?

Take it one step at a time. Bypass the gimmicks and all the magazines that promise El McPherson’s body in 6 weeks and buy a real book. Fit or Fat by Covert Bailey or Fighting the Female Fat Cell by Debra Waterhouse are both excellent. Contact me with questions through my website and I will be happy to help.

Take a serious look at your schedule. Decide what is feasible or rationale for you. Don’t jump in and say you’re going to workout 7 days a week. Start with two or three days at the most. Write or type your workout days into your planner, the same way you would any appointment.

Get a buddy, join a group, start a group, hire a professional. Make yourself accountable. By scheduling your workouts and making sure you are going to meet up with someone other than yourself you are much more likely to adhere to your training schedule. I did long training runs outdoors two days a week the entire winter. I knew my running partner would be waiting for me. Some days when it was cold, raining, windy, snowing and/or I was tired there was absolutely no way I would have gone if it was only me. We are now doing intense interval training and my training partner keeps me honest! Thanks Chris!

I know how many of you want to get fit and I know how difficult it can be to not only get started but to maintain! Just get up and put one foot in front of the other. KISS! Contact me with any questions and concerns and I will be glad to help you out!