Dear New Fitness Friend,
Happy December! It’s a beautiful time of year – a time to reflect, to enjoy family, to have fun with friends, a time to look ahead to a new year. I wanted to take a moment before the rest of the month got too crazy and filled up with parties, baking, and holiday cheer to encourage you with some tips for moving your lifestyle in a healthier direction.
Why not wait put off such a change until later? Well, there truly is no time like the present! After Thanksgiving it can be easy to say, “Well, I gained a few pounds,” or, “I wasn’t consistent in my workouts and it’s just going to get busier.” You’ve just conceded to “the time of year” excuse and now are looking at a (2012) New Year’s Resolution instead. Remember, “Hesitation is devastation!” Don’t wait – start today. Why?
1.) You’ll have increased self-esteem. It won’t take 3 weeks of being consistent or long hours in the gym – I guarantee that if you begin exercising and choose vegetables and dip over chips and cookies, you will feel better about yourself. You will feel empowered, proud and simply good that you chose the healthier option. Like I always tell my clients, no one ever says after a workout, “Aww man – I wish I didn’t just do that workout.” No way! And why not start December out with increased self-esteem rather than feeling guilty or regretful?
Feeling proud after a rainy run while traveling!
2.) Exercise is a great way to manage stress. And really, who isn’t stressed in December? Even though I don’t typically get too stressed by the shopping and busyness, the amount of people in stores and cars on the road is enough to make me grip the steering wheel a little harder. Extra stress and tension in your life can not only hurt your body physically, but cause you to hold onto extra pounds. If you can start squeezing exercise into your day now, you will be less stressed throughout this season.
3.) You’ll sleep better. It’s true! Exercise has been proven to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. And since more/better sleep actually plays a role in losing weight more effectively, you’ll also notice your pants fitting better. (Its recommended that you engage in more vigorous activity during the day and lighter activity at night to keep you sleeping well.)
4.) Increase your immunity & ward off sickness. It’s easy with extra stress, poor eating habits, and being around many people to get sick in December and into January. But exercise actually helps boost your immunity! One good reason to hit the weights is to revamp your immune system and keep you healthy so you can enjoy the season.
5.) Exercise for weight loss – or at least weight maintenance. At a time when many people are looking at food and treats as temptations and throw in the towel when it comes to staying healthy, remember, dear Fitness Friend, that exercise revs your metabolism and burns calories. More calories burned (with less consumed) means weight loss. If you’re still indulging (as I think we all should to some extent) in the fun of the season, if you begin exercising consistently now rather than putting it off until January you can help maintain rather than gain. So what are you waiting for? Get that metabolism burning calories by moving more today! Added benefit for those of you who live in cold climates? You have an additional benefit because studies show that more fat is burned during cold-weather workouts than in warm weather (partially because of the body’s need to generate more heat for itself); bonus!
6.) You’ll have more energy. Although you might feel like plopping down on the couch after a long day of work or taking a nap mid-day, choosing to exercise instead will increase your energy. It’s the last thing that many people feel like doing but could be the one thing that your body truly needs to get more oxygen pumping through your blood, to wake up your mind, to make you feel alive. Plus, the stronger you get the more energy you have and the easier it becomes to do daily life tasks around the office and at home.
7.) To increase the healthy influencers in your lives and to become an influencer. It’s rare to see someone start an exercise program or change their lifestyle habits in December; be that person who encourages others! And in doing so – in getting out to the gym, trying new classes, meeting others – you will create and become a part of a community around you who is also on the same path towards increased fitness and health. Perhaps your current influencers love to go out to eat, indulge in heavy drinking, and don’t like to try new things or exercise much. You will gain a new community who embraces movement, eating well, and balancing life and you will become an influencer for someone else. It starts with you!
My mom: one of fitness influencers!
To end with, dear new Fitness Friend, I want to encourage you with a few tips.
– Don’t get discouraged. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle, so be prepared for a few setbacks but don’t let it deter you from moving forward. Start out small – drink more water, establish a better sleep routine, choose an apple rather than a sugar cookie – little steps towards better health count! Find healthy ways to reward yourself for sticking with your workouts and eating well, like meeting a friend for coffee, getting a pedicure, going to a hockey game, or buying a new fitness tool for yourself.
– Eat real food. There are a myriad of eating programs and diets you could get on; how do you know which one is right? My biggest advice to you is to eat real food; if it comes out of a package, think twice. It it comes from the ground or off a tree, enjoy! The less processed (less refined flours and sugars) the better. Try incorporating this tip into your eating habits and watch your energy levels change and body start to change!
– Move more today than you did yesterday. Dear Fitness Friend, this might mean a simple 20 minute walk around the block in the morning or after dinner. For your friend, it might mean picking up the weights in the gym for the first time or doing push ups and squats during the commercials of his favorite TV show. If you’re just starting out, make it your goal to simply move more.
– Find a friend. Having a workout buddy can help keep you (both) accountable and focused if you’re not the self-motivated type. Rely on them and enjoy the burn together!
– Focus on the bigger picture. Change won’t happen overnight, although you will start feeling better from the beginning. Remember that this is a new lifelong direction, not something to do until you hit mid-way through January or until something disrupts your schedule. Keep a balanced, open mind and take everything with a grain of salt. You’re moving in the right direction – that’s what matters most.
New Fitness Friend, I hope this encourages you to start moving and eating well – and to start today! Exercise has the greatest return of anything you can invest in as you will lose weight, gain strength, improve bon density, have more energy, ward off sickness and disease, deter depression, and live longer. You have everything to gain by beginning today!
Thoughts, questions, anything to add? I’d love to hear from you! Make it a great day and finish this year off stronger than you left it whatever your exercise and fitness level! Live well & be well,