By AMY LOSCHERT, ND, FABNO, SALISH CANCER CENTER
Many people make New Year’s resolutions related to losing weight and/or establishing a consistent workout routine so they can become healthier. Here are some tips that will help anyone to achieve their new workout related goals.
1. Be realistic and make a plan that fits your daily lifestyle. The key to a successful exercise regimen is consistency, so choose a time of day when you will have the time you need to work out, wash up afterwards and easily transition to your next event. Then write it down in your planner and don’t prioritize anything else over it. Start with small goals either of minutes allocated to work out or intensity of your routine and increase from there.
2. Choose an activity you will enjoy doing. Then add something else you enjoy to create variety and cross train. If you don’t like running then don’t run! If you like to swim or would rather take a class, then join the local YMCA or other gym and try something interesting to you, like water aerobics, yoga or dance. If you aren’t used to working out consistently you will surely not stick with it if you don’t enjoy it, so start with something that brings you joy and then try something new like kettlebells, weights or a workout app on your phone that will work other muscles and require a change in your scenery to keep things stimulating.
3. Keep a workout journal to keep you motivated. At the very least, write down what you did and for how long you did it on a calendar so you can see how consistently you have been able to stick to your routine and how you have advanced since the beginning.
4. Always reward yourself when reaching small goals. Figure out what good benchmarks will be for you. If your realistic larger goal is to work out every other day for two months, then after each successful week reward yourself with a healthy gift until you reach your overall goal. We don’t reward ourselves enough, and when starting something new it is important to have positive reinforcement along the way!
5. Get a good pair of sneakers that fit your feet and are comfortable. Most important is to try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen to reproduce the inflammation your feet will undergo when exercising. Both the length and width of the shoe should be comfortable with some extra room. If you wear orthotics, be sure to bring them with you to the store and slip them in any shoe you try on before buying. Running shoes are ne for most activities. They are made to support forward motion and a comfortable footstep when pounding the pavement. If you are planning on participating in an aerobics or high intensity interval training class, consider “cross trainers” or a shoe with a stiffer sole and more stable ankle support, as you will be doing a lot of lateral movement and don’t want your ankles to roll. You can get away with running shoes for even moderate hiking, but if the trek is long and terrain is rocky, consider the thicker soles of hiking boots or trail running shoes. Some people like to wear grip socks to wear for yoga, but most people are in bare feet on a mat they wash regularly. Stay away from 100 percent cotton socks for any athletic activity as they retain sweat and can cause blisters.
6. Warm up and stretch afterward … always! To avoid injury and reduce chronic back and hip pain, it is vital to adhere to these parts of your routine. Jumping jacks, running in place, jump roping or hopping on the recumbent bike until you break a sweat will do. You will be able to stretch more deeply into postures in yoga and have more range of motion when performing any activity if you are warmed up first. Stretching afterward, especially your hamstrings in the back of your legs as well as your butt muscles, will help loosen your low back. When your muscles are warm the stretch will be easier and will prevent soreness and injury between workouts.
7. Practice grace and gratitude for what your body can do today. Go into your new regimen knowing that your body may not be able to do what it did the day or even the week before. Each day you may hear something else that it needs if you check in. Maybe more stretching is required one day, or you need to do more aerobic activity to work out your stress. Just be grateful for your muscles, bones and lungs in whatever capacity they show up for you, and respect your present state. A lifestyle that includes exercise is a marathon and not a sprint, so take it slow and thoughtfully!