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New Season, New Shape

Hello dear readers,

I’ve heard people say that fall is the true start of a new year. Maybe it harkens back to the days when we started a new school year in the fall. Some have even started making fall resolutions, feeling they resonate more than New Year’s resolutions.

It probably comes as no surprise that one of the most popular resolutions has to do with getting back in shape. With that in mind, I draw on years of martial art and weight-lifting experience, as well as everything I’ve learned from numerous coaches, trainers and fitness experts to bring you:

Holli’s Ten Tips for Getting in Shape
  1. Find an Activity You Love. Even the most stubborn couch potato loved some type of physical activity as a child. If you find running boring and monotonous, don’t do it just because you’ve heard it’s the best way to lose weight. Exercising consistently is hard enough without hating whatever you’re doing. If you haven’t found the love of your life, get creative: try yoga classes, martial arts, belly dancing, Pilate’s, hip hop, aqua-aerobics, spinning, or tai chi. Something is bound to strike your fancy.
  2. Start Slow. A new fitness routine is exciting, so many people rush in and overdo it. This can lead to muscle fatigue/soreness, injuries, and burn out. Plan to exercise two times a week in the beginning, and then add another day as body adjusts until you’re meeting your goals. You may lose weight more slowly at first, but easing into a new plan will pay off in the end.
  3. Avoid the All-or-Nothing Trap. This still happens to me sometimes. I plan to go to kickboxing four times a week, but life intervenes. After missing a couple of classes, I’ll think, “well, there’s only two classes left. Might as well skip the week.” Wrong. The cumulative effect of exercise is more important than whether you do it every day. Same goes for eating healthy. If you have cake one day, don’t shrug off your goals and eat French fries for the rest of the week. One false step doesn’t mean you have to send yourself back to square one.
  4. Timing is Everything. Don’t begin a new fitness or eating plan before a big event in your life: your birthday, a tropical vacation, holidays, your wedding, Thanksgiving, final exams. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people do this and then beat themselves up when they can’t stick to their plan.
  5. Do It Before. Exercising before work is great…if you can get up that early and still function for the rest of the day. If you have to exercise in the evening, though, do it before. Preferably before going home, but definitely before sitting down on the couch, turning on the TV, opening a book, or having a snack. If you do it before, you’re much more likely to actually do it.
  6. Adopt a Buddy. The buddy system, a.k.a working out with a friend, is a powerful tool that can haul your butt to the gym when you really don’t feel like going. But it’s important to pick the right buddy. If your friend’s attendance and enthusiasm are lackluster, it can effect yours’ as well: “Tom isn’t going to work out tonight, so I don’t need to, either.” I’ve found it best to make friends with someone who already goes to your gym consistently. That way, you know their track record is good and they probably have similar goals.
  7. Take Pleasure in the Journey. It’s difficult to follow this step when you really want to lose weight, or are depressed with how your body looks. Exercise will change all that, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Try to notice the small differences that will happen before you drop sizes: perhaps it’s easier to climb that flight of stairs, or the doughnuts at your morning meetings aren’t as tempting. A friend told me that she’s happy that she can jump rope for longer periods without needing a rest, and that a difficult class no longer makes her feel like puking. Find whatever works for you, and let it make you happy.
  8. Accept that Life Happens. This relates to #3. There will be times when your plan fails. Work gets super hectic. A family member falls ill. You suffer an injury. Yes, you can drive yourself crazy trying to fit in just one workout, somewhere, but honestly? Give yourself a break. Life happens. You can always start again tomorrow, or next week. Take the time you need to solve what’s wrong, and you’ll be happy you did. If you can fit in the time for a walk or a yoga class, great. Something is always better than nothing.
  9. Consistency is Key. Typically, people throw themselves into a new fitness routine. They go full-bore, work out really, really hard, and then–frustrated that they still aren’t seeing results–quit in disgust. Trust me–if you work at getting in shape consistently, week in and week out, you will see the benefits. There will be times when you have to mix up your routine to keep seeing results, but for now, aim for consistency. Make exercise as important as any other event in your day book. It’s a gift to yourself, and to those you love.
  10. If It Feels Awful, Do It Often. I know this seems in conflict with tip #1, but it’s not. Even when you’ve found an activity you love, there will be aspects of it that you don’t like. For example, I love kickboxing, but I hate plyometric exercises, push-ups, push-kicks, and certain types of sit-ups. You know why? Because I find them difficult. My body is uncomfortable with those moves, which means I should do them more often. If I don’t like those exercises, it means I need improvement in those areas. So do those push-ups! You’ll thank me later, I promise.
There are my ten tips for a healthier, fitter you! I hope they help.
Feel free to share anything that has worked for you, and tell me how you plan to fit in a workout today.
Thanks for reading!
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  1. LaDonna

    Great tips, Holli. My 2008 resolution was to lose weight. In 2009, I was over 80 lbs lighter and I’ve gained nothing back. In fact, I’m in better shape than I was in high school. Of course, I didn’t have your tips then but everything you listed, I used. Thanks for taking the time, I’m sure it will be very helpful.

    LaDonna 🙂

  2. Story Teller

    Welcome, LaDonna! What amazing success – good for you! And the fact that you’ve kept the weight off is something to be especially proud of. What activity did you fall in love with?

    I have to say, your presence on my Facebook page has been such a gift. You’re such a beautiful, positive person. I’m glad we met…wish we lived in the same city!

    Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. LaDonna

    Wow. Thanks so much for those kind words, Holli. I’m glad we met too….maybe one day we’ll come face to face. 🙂 I’ve fallen in love with many activities over all this time because I like to learn so many things. I’ll try anything that gets the blood pumping. I love all kinds of aerobics, dance, yoga, pilates, jogging, swimming, but I have to say walking is still my all time favorite. Walking frees me and let’s me literally stop and smell the roses, if I want. I’d love to learn to box. You are too cool for that. 🙂

  4. Lisa

    I belong to an online running forum and yesterday they began a “100 Day Challenge” (100 days left in the year) where you sign up and vow to do some sort of activity for a minimum of 20 minutes EVERY day for the next 100 days. Since I already run 3x/week, walk to work every day, and will be getting back into swimming 2-3x/week when the PanAm reopens I figured it would be easy…I’ll keep you updated…

    p.s. I plan to pass your tips onto a co-worker who recently starting running but sometimes finds herself unmotivated..

  5. Story Teller

    @ LaDonna – maybe we’ll end up at the same writing conference! I’d love to see Florida. It sounds like you have the right idea about fitness – it should be fun, and if you’re always trying something new, your body is always challenged and working its hardest. I love walking, too.

    @ Lisa – thanks for commenting! Wow, it sounds like you work out a LOT. What an ambitious schedule! You’re motivating ME. I hope these tips help your friend. Maybe running isn’t her thing, but something else would be.

    We got our first spam on the blog, everyone! Sorry for the inconvenience, but I think that means I’ve finally arrived. 🙂


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