A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

Taking the next step: Strength-training

Through extensive reading, I am continually learning new concepts. Eighty percent of being fit depends on nutrition. An easy way to measure portion sizes is to remember that one portion of vegetables is a double-handful, a portion of lean meat is the size of your hand, and a portion of nuts is a small, cupped handful.

Another important lesson is that cardio and clean eating will burn fat, but progressive resistance strength training is necesssary to add shape to your body. Building muscle also increases your metabolism, which in turn, burns more fat!

I have learned that the best way to stick with a fitness program is to choose healthy foods that you like and to do exercises that you enjoy doing. By choosing foods that I enjoy, I have been able to stick with the meals plans I laid out. And when I go off track, it’s easier to be motivated to get right back on, because I am not forcing myself to eat things that are unappealing.

In an effort to stay motivated for strength-training, I have decided to apply the same logic. My upper arms are my least-favorite body parts. Even when I am thin, my arms have very little tone and no definition, and I have very little upper body strength. After reviewing several workout options, I have chosen one that hope I can stick with!

Here’s my latest fitness goal:

10 minutes of strength training each day for one week.

Deltoids/Biceps/Triceps (shoulders and arms): 3 days per week

Continue 35 minutes of cardio 7 days per week.

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Steps along the way: Arms and shoulders

When I decided to lose weight earlier this year, I took many small steps to help me get started. Over several months, I read everything I could find, asked others for tips, and collected tools that would help me reach my goals. As I learned, I put many new ideas into practice. I bought yoga pants and loose shorts for working out, found a digital scale for weigh-ins and a digital kitchen scale for weighing food portions. I bought a gym membership and set goals for working out every day. I also bought a new pair of gym shoes and downloaded various fitness-related iPhone apps.

I have the fitness tools and equipment that I need, and I feel confident that I know WHAT to do, but sometimes actually DOING it is difficult. I am motivated to eat clean and do cardio, but sticking with strength training is a challenge for me.

A few months ago, I bought a set of Jillian Michaels dumbbells. They sat in a box on the floor of my bedroom for awhile, then I finally committed to 10 minutes of strength training each day. Over the last three weeks, I completed three, 10-minute sessions. Instead of beating myself up for not reaching my goal, I am taking steps to a better path.

For the next week, my new goal is to be consistent with my strength workouts. For inspiration, I picked up a couple copies of Oxygen magazine.

In the Fall 2011 edition of Oxygen’s Collector’s Issue Off The Couch, there are a couple of great workouts for beginners:

1. Your All-Purpose Home Workout with dumbbells and a resistance band.

2. Head-to-toe fit…In just 15 minutes! which involves “5 total-body moves that don’t need any equipment.”

In the November 11 issue of Oxygen, I found this: Stunning Shoulders in Only Four Weeks. This workout requires the use of dumbbells, and most of the moves are done in a standing position.

Because I would like to improve the look of my arms and because I prefer to stand while exercising, I have decided to start with the Stunning Shoulders workout. I will also use selected parts of Your All-Purpose Home Workout for arms. As I get more confident, I plan to add additional routines for future workouts.

Small steps in the right direction

Small steps are still steps. Three or four small steps cover the same territory as one LONG step. We each have our own stride, with its own unique cadence. If we want to be in a different place, all that matters is that we face the direction we want to go and step….and step….and step…..

My dear friend, Jaylene McCrary Whitehurst, Heartwork Center for Creative Living http://www.heartworkccl.com/ posted this original quote. Reading it inspired new thinking for me.

Several years ago, I lost 30 pounds. It took an entire year of taking small steps, with a goal of losing weight, without concern for my overall health. I just wanted to be thin! I worked without a plan, simply eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was satisfied. I walked for 45 minutes three times a week and swam laps for 20 minutes twice a week. Nothing was forbidden, even my favorite Wendy’s homestyle chicken sandwich. I paid attention to my hunger pangs, ate a bit when my stomach growled, and then stopped eating when my stomach went quiet.

The problem came when I reached my weight-loss goal and stopped taking the steps that had helped me become thinner. I quickly started gaining weight, and without exercise, I became very winded, very quickly, even when walking the short distance from the front door of the school to my classroom each day.

This time around, I have committed to a healthy lifestyle. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and I have decided that I am more concerned with my overall health even more than my weight. I want to be strong and fit. Simply put, I feel so much better when I eat well and exercise. Being thin is simply a by-product of living a healthy lifestyle.

Even when I take a few steps backward, I pause and remember that even if the cadence isn’t smooth and steady, I can always get right back on track. Eating one meal that is off-target doesn’t mean that I have to keep trudging in that direction, moving far away from my desired path. I’ve learned to walk each day of this journey, one step at a time, always aiming to move in the right direction.