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2013 Fitness Resolutions

2013 Resolutions


Here are a few ideas to help you
reach your fitness goals in 2013...
without replacing your desk chair
with an exercise ball.

It is the New Year, and, like I do every year, I have made a list of my resolutions for 2013. At the top of the list is the goal to be more fit in 2013 (and of course to lose weight).

This year, this one goal is very prominent in my mind because I still have a bit of baby weight to lose. However, I make this resolution every year, whether I am at my normal weight or no, because I am well aware of the fact that exercise is good. Getting regular exercise reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other illness. Being active also helps maintain a healthy weight, makes our bodies look and feel younger, and generally boosts self-image. Also, exercise is good for the soul. It provides stress relief. It makes us happy. As Elle Woods put it in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands… they just don't.” 

To get the health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise,” so about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This is not a lot of time, I know, and for about six months of an average year, I am able to meet or exceed this goal. However, as soon as life gets a bit on the busy side, exercise is one of the first things to go. I know I am supposed to make time for exercise in my book, and keep the appointment as if it were a meeting with my boss. Unfortunately, during my busy periods at work, when I am averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, nothing will make me choose exercise over sleep. During these busy seasons, things also become more important than exercise because I have to set priorities. I would rather spend a bit of time with my husband and my children than go to the gym. It also does not help that I am not a naturally athletic person. I am not one of those people that need exercise to function, so I easily forget it.

Sadly, I know that by skipping exercise during my busy seasons, I forgo the benefits when my mind and body could most benefit from them. So, I am approaching my resolution from a different angle this year. I have started thinking about ways that I can incorporate exercise into my life in such a way that I will not have to completely forget about it the next time I get busy. Here are a few things I plan to try (or resurrect) this year which will get me to achieve my goals.

Wear a pedometer
There is a certain amount of movement I get in a routine day. Specifically, I walk 15 minutes from the train station to work in the morning, and at the end of the day, I walk 15 minutes back. However, I have found that when I wear a pedometer and set a nominal goal (say, 10,000 steps in one day), I work in almost ridiculous ways to achieve it. I may get off my bum at lunch and take a walk, if I have time in my day to do this. I will also find myself pacing back and forth at the train station rather than just standing there staring into space, walking in circles when I am on the phone, or walking down two flights of stairs when I have a meeting on the 25th floor. These little bits of movement, hardly worth mentioning, add up to a person who is more fit than I am today.

Make up mini exercise routines
Sometimes, I find it hard to commit to even a half hour of straight exercise. I will make it through 10 minutes of a workout routine and then have to stop because my son is wailing in the other room or because I have to answer an important e-mail. So, I have decided to incorporate exercise into my day in teeny, tiny increments. For example, when I get up in the morning, before I get in the shower, I will do the sun salutation five times. When I get home, while changing my clothes, I will stop and do a quick exercise routine. Even if I take my time, these mini-workouts cannot take more than 15 minutes each. However, I hope that they will become so ingrained in my schedule that I will not go without them when I get too busy to exercise.

Combine exercise with other activities
Whether playing a board game or playing at the playground, I spend time with my kids, but only activity has the added side benefit of increasing my activity level. When planning things to do, I will try to pick the activities that have a movement component to them. So, next time I will be thinking of how to spend Saturday, I will look for a trip to the zoo or the museum instead of going to the movies. When I know I have a half an hour of time to focus on the house, I will opt to vacuum instead of doing the dishes, or, better yet, I will trade with my husband, go outside, and rake the leaves.

Start something new today
When my co-worker raves about the new spin class he went to last night, and how he must have burned 1,000 calories in one hour, I usually think: that sounds like something I should try. Then, I swiftly forget about it. Well, this year, I vow to try it. Today, I have purchased 20 kickboxing lessons for $35.00 through Amazon’s Local Deals. I may very well hate kickboxing, I know this. Regardless, I must use the voucher by March 31st, and the classes are sure to add some freshness to my workout routine. In the meantime, I may discover something I love.

Make a fitness bucket list
This is an idea I saw on Pinterest a few weeks ago that I plan to make my own. Basically, I will write down a few things I want to achieve or try. When I feel that my routine is getting, well, routine, or that I need a bit of inspiration, I will pick one of those items and set out to achieve it. Big (run a 5K) or small (see whether I can still ride a bike), the ideas are sure to motivate me when time comes.

People, human beings as animals, are not meant to be sedentary creatures. Our ancestors did not have to worry about making sure that they had a half hour of exercise every day. They exercised while gathering, hunting for, or growing food, making shelter, making sure they stayed warm. They just did it. This way of life is a far cry from today, when most of us hold desk jobs, drive cars, shop online and get pizza delivered. I know that I will not give up my life and move to some remote area in Alaska and adopt this sort of ancient lifestyle. I also will not go to extremes like replacing my desk chair with an exercise ball, as I do not think this would be considered appropriate at my place of work. However, I know that by making tiny adjustments I can make my completely sedentary existence a bit more active, and change my life for good.

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