April 24th, 2002

I’ve been trying to increase the amount of exercise I do over the last few days. I have been fairly successful; I have made myself walk a half-hour a day over the last three days. And, even with this little bit of exercise, I’ve already noticed a few pointers that I can pass along to you!

  • Exercise gets easier the more you do it. The first few times that I exercised, I felt like I was going to drop dead right there. But the last couple of times I’ve been out there, exercising has been MUCH easier. It has been easier to get myself to the workout room. I have had a little more energy after I finish the workout, too. I know exercise can really suck sometimes, but the more one does it, the easier it gets.
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations! It is important to realize and admit that you may be out of shape. Don’t expect to be able to keep up with people who are in shape. Don’t expect to be able to work out for three hours. Understand your limitations, and work within them.I really realized this when working out on the treadmill. People who are in shape run on the treadmill; I can’t do more than walk. While people who are in shape may set the pace on the treadmill to 5 or 6 miles an hour, I can’t set it to any more than 3 miles an hour. And I cannot keep up that pace for more than 20 minutes or so before I have to slow down for a while. I needed to realize that this is okay.

    When I first started trying to work out (two weeks ago), I had to set the treadmill to a 2.5 mph pace. Which really annoyed me. I’ve read most everywhere that an average man can walk at a 4 mph pace without really taxing themselves. And here I was, only able to do a little better than half that. What’s wrong with me?

    The answer, of course, is that there isn’t anything wrong with me. I am just out of shape, and, on top of that, I am carrying a lot more weight than the average man. The average man weighs around 170lbs; I am carrying 150 more pounds than that. I bet that, if we strap a 150lb backpack on the average man and have him try to walk, he would have a hard time keeping up a 4 mph pace, too. Again, it comes back to realistic expectations.

  • Don’t be embarrassed to be working out! This especially holds true if you are working out in a public place. I work out at my place of employment; there are often three or four other people in the workout room with me. When I see people in there, I start to imagine all the things that they must be thinking about me. I get embarrassed about the shape that I am in. If someone giggles or laughs, I assume they are laughing at me, even though they are probably just telling each other a joke.Embarrassment can be a major stumbling block to someone trying to lose weight. It is very easy to give in to the feeling of embarrassment. Embarrassment can quickly erode motivation in even the most determined person. It is something to watch for, and to act on quickly.

    I have a few ways of dealing with embarrassment. The first, and often most effective, is to simply remind myself that I am not omniscient. There is no way for me to know what someone else is thinking. It is actually a little bit vain to assume that other people are thinking about me at all. The second is to try to block out the fact that the other people are there. This doesn’t always work, but when it does, it is VERY effective.

    The third way is to go with someone I know. When I first tried to lose weight, my buddy Cindysue would go to the pool with me for water aerobics. It is much easier to go into a situation like that with a friend or compadre.

  • Have a distraction handy! Exercise can be very tedious when you first get started. I wonder how many people can actually exercise just for the joy of exercise. Lord knows that I can’t! I need to have something distracting me while I work out. My distraction of choice is music. I have my non-skip CD player with me at all times, I create my own compilation CDs with an energetic mix of music. When I work out, I am always listening to music. It makes the time go by faster, and helps me keep my mind off of what I am doing.I strongly recommend that you use something to distract you when you are exercising. Listen to music. Read a book. Many rec centers and health clubs have televisions set up for this express purpose. Use something as a distraction; it will make it exercising easier.
  • Drink plenty of water! I cannot stress this point enough. Allowing oneself to dehydrate is both dangerous AND counter-productive. I am not a doctor, nor do I work in the medical field. I cannot explain how this is dangerous, I only know that it is. What I can talk about, though, is its counter-productivity.Those of us who are overweight tend to not like to exercise because we don’t like feeling like we have no energy. It’s a feeling that we aren’t used to, and that we don’t like. Not drinking enough water when one is exercising can actually increase this feeling. The more dehyrdated one is, the more worn out one will feel during and after exercise.

    The recommendation is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. And I whole-heartedly recommend this recommendation. It really makes a HUGE difference. Being well hydrated and staying well hydrated during a workout adds to a person’s energy level. I don’t get tired anywhere near as quickly if I am drinking water during the workout. Be sure not to skip this step!

I could probably think of a few more if given the time, but I’ve babbled enough!

– Miguelito

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