Don't Exercise to Lose Weight!
Wait! Did I say to stop exercising?
No, I said to stop exercising with weight loss in mind!
Let me clarify.
Will you lose weight faster if you combine healthy eating with exercise? Yes, you will.
And you will find it easier to maintain weight loss if you continue exercising.
But, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet unless you plan to work out for several hours each day.
In my experience, there needs to be a shift in mindset regarding exercise and health goals, especially for women as they age.
What is my experience with exercise & weight loss?
I have always been an outdoor person with many active hobbies. In my 30s, I started going to a gym regularly (5 days a week) and continued this practice into my late 50s.
Being fit was a lifestyle for me. I read everything I could on diet and fitness.
I became a personal trainer when I was 48.
However, the older I got, the harder it was to maintain my weight. (i.e., you cannot out-exercise a bad diet or, it seems, hormones).
I started getting frustrated and finally gave up exercising altogether—a lousy plan.
Now, I'm overweight and out of shape instead of just being overweight!
You need to exercise!
I'm not trying to be contradictory or confusing! Everyone needs to exercise, but for reasons other than weight loss.
Here's where the mindset shift needs to happen.
There are many good reasons for exercise:
- Maintain balance to avoid injuries
- Strengthen bones & muscles
- Improve mood
- Prevent or manage other health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, blood pressure)
- Boost energy
- Improve sleep
- And yes, to lose or maintain weight, but only if you eat a healthy diet.
Food is not a reward for exercising!
I've seen this far too often--rewarding yourself with a calorie-laden treat because you had a great workout.
I'm guilty of this practice too!
Your reward for exercising is feeling better, having more energy, and being able to physically do all of the things you have dreamed about doing in retirement.
If you need a "real" reward, find something that doesn't involve food or drinks.
What I find most rewarding is tracking my results. You can use an app on your phone or computer or go "old school" with a notebook.
Set some goals and see how awesome it feels to reach them.
How you exercise matters too.
You need to incorporate three activities into your exercise plan.
Cardio is anything that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time. This could be walking, running, dancing, or cycling.
Even strength training or yoga can be a cardio workout if you raise your heart rate and maintain it throughout the exercise period.
The benefits of cardiovascular exercise include:
- Getting your blood pumping
- Lower blood pressure
- Strengthening your immune system
- Improved sleep
- Regulating blood sugar
- Contributing to a healthy weight
- Boosting your brain & supporting mental health
Strength training is anything that forces you to use your muscles.
It could be bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, or lunges. Or you can do the same exercises with weights or resistance bands to increase your results.
Some of the benefits of strength training mirror those of cardio, such as better sleep, increased energy, mood control, and heart health.
However, there are some additional benefits that you won't get with cardio alone. These include:
- Increased bone density
- Improved functional strength (the ability to do daily tasks like carrying groceries, reaching into cabinets, squatting to pick up something off the floor, etc.)
- Weight loss - muscle requires more energy, so it is easier to lose or maintain weight loss with improved muscle tone.
- Better energy
- Increased confidence
- Improved balance to avoid falls & injury.
Stretching is the most overlooked and, in my opinion, the most important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Like strength training, stretching improves your ability to perform daily physical activities, decreases the risk of injuries, and improves your balance.
In addition, stretching also:
- Decreases chronic pain.
- Improves your posture.
- Helps maintain a more youthful appearance.
- Increases the results from your workouts.
Making it happen.
So you are probably wondering how much time you will need to fit all of these new activities into your schedule.
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week. That is approximately 20-30 minutes a day for six days.
Add in strength training at least two times a week.
End your workout with some stretches, and you are on your way to better health.
You don't really need anything to get started other than a pair of good shoes. Getting out for a walk doesn't cost anything.
For strength training, bodyweight exercises will be challenging enough for someone who is getting started.
For extra resistance, elastic resistance bands are inexpensive and easy to store.
How to get started.
Thousands of free or low-cost options are available to help you reach your health goals.
If you have a computer or smartphone, you will find YouTube videos for any workout you want.
Here are links to some of my favorite YouTube videos:
Strength & Core exercises: Becky Fox Fitness
Yoga: Yoga With Adriene
Bellydance: Jennifer Sobel Hip Belly Dancer
Zumba Gold: Zumba Gold
Did you know you can join a gym for free with the Silver Sneakers program?
If you are on Medicare, you might qualify for Silver Sneakers.
Here's the link to find out if you are eligible: Silver Sneakers
You can find gyms near you that participate in the Silver Sneakers Program or online fitness videos.
Sometimes getting started is easier than keeping the momentum going. The secret to health success is consistency.
Finding a way to keep yourself accountable will make reaching your goals more likely.
If you have a friend or family member with similar goals, make plans to exercise together or check in weekly to hold each other accountable.
You can hire a coach or personal trainer, but that can be expensive. Online coaching programs are less expensive than in-person coaches.
There are also Facebook groups you can join with like-minded women that offer support and help you learn about other resources.
With all the resources available today, there is no excuse not to get started on improving your fitness.
If you are interested in improving your fitness level, comment below or send me a message, and perhaps we can hold each other accountable!
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