Choosing a health and fitness program for you
There are many health and exercise plans being offered online via personal training studios and in gyms and magazines etc. This can make choosing a fitness and exercise program that suits your physical health challenging and confusing.
Sales tag lines like "lose 10kgs on us", "body transformation", "ideal body in 6 weeks", are to engage and attract people to buy the product. Many fitness and exercise programs offer the latest research and amazing results. The reality of these claims is generally short-term, painful, extreme and unrealistic, which will not be sustainable and doesn’t support long-term physical health and wellbeing.
Below are some suggestions to help you make a considered choice of your health and exercise program. For long-term physical health and vitality, the exercise program must be sustainable and fit simply into your lifestyle.
Choose an exercise program that supports your current physical health status rather than where you really want to get to, e.g. if you haven’t been exercising for a few years or have some health concerns, an extreme conditioning program may be unwise to begin with. If you want to feel fitter then choose a walking program rather than yoga and stretching because they are for flexibility rather than fitness.
Do you honestly and realistically have the time required for the workout plans being offered e.g. 2 hours a day? Exercise is only 20% of weight loss; the other 80% is food choice/diet. Look into your food choices and spend 5-30mins on your exercise program, yes that is correct – 5 minutes, “anything is better than nothing”. Get this into your daily rhythm so it easily becomes a way of life, like cleaning your teeth.
When undertaking a new exercise program, read and ask more questions to see if it really is for you? E.g. – why would a 40 year-old woman who has had 2 children take up an exercise program that is purposely targeted for 20 year olds and is made up of plyometric (jumping) and high impact movements?
For all women, high impact and plyometric moves can load your pelvic floor immensely; they weaken and in time damage this area bringing some quality of life issues later down the track.
Even if you are in your 20’s consider the nature of the workout plans that you are doing to take care of yourself when you are older.
Strict and Restrictive Workout Plans
How restrictive is the diet or exercise program?
If an exercise program is restrictive or overly strict in any way, it will never last. Why? ... because it cannot be brought into a daily rhythm or become a long-term lifestyle.
When there is an overly strict and restrictive program it can make many people obsessively think about the things that they can’t have or do anymore, which can drive people to want to eat more, possibly in secret or in larger amounts than what they would generally eat. Then there are fitness programs that involve long hours of training/working out, which will be too much for most people who have a normal full life: what is dangerous here is that it adds to stress and overwhelm so a person has to stop. In this guilt and self-esteem issues can arise, which is not supportive to anyone.
Trainers will then talk about ‘willpower’, ‘mind over matter’ etc., all of which are short-term and not at all supportive to building an honoring, loving and supportive relationship with your body.
Listen to your amazing body, take the time and respect what it is saying, it will show you the way.
Marketing of those workout plans
Wise up to and discern the ‘bikini body, look like me, transform in 12 weeks, quick weight loss, miracle change with a shake’ marketing. Remember, there are NO quick fixes and NO body you need ‘get’ except caring for your own.
Exercise Program length
Is this exercise program something you can realistically maintain for life?
Or is it sustainable and endurable only for a few short weeks?
If you can only live the health programme for a few weeks, then generally it will be a quick fix (weight loss) and the weight lost will quickly return and the workout plan will cease, rather than a loving lifestyle change that you can maintain.
Trust yourself on your physical health
When you listen to your body it will tell you, it will share with you when things don’t feel right or feel wonderful. When you feel you are being asked to do an exercise and it “didn’t feel right . . .” that is what you need to trust – if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. In this case it is absolutely right to check in.
So many people feel an exercise program is working because it hurts the next day. This is definitely not the case. The body gets sore when you have pushed it or done something it hasn’t done before. The muscle pain that lasts up to 2 days is actually tiny muscle fibre tears, so to try to do this in every session is deeply dishonouring of your body. When you train in a loving and honouring way your body will feel ease and grace, you will feel light and tall.
Healthy Intention to Exercise
Bring an intention to exercise that reconnects and deepens your relationship with your body rather than to simply ‘work out the stress’, ‘sweat out the cold’ or to ‘relieve what you are truly feeling’, as the session may finish and you will be better, but only temporarily. Try starting your workout with connection to your body – e.g. feeling the feet in your trainers, feeling your breath to see just how anxious or tense you are. Be gentle and take some very valuable time to be with your body while exercising; then you may find your workout routine can feel lovely, light and fun.
So when you come to your workout routine, take into account your time, finances, fitness and lifestyle so you can make your exercise program a fun and enjoyable aspect of your life.
A healthy and sustainable workout plan is something that can become part of your everyday – even just a few minutes a day to reconnect back into your body, treating it as the amazing precious vehicle that it is.