Can you feel it?? It’s goal-setting season!
As the decade comes to a close, many of you are reflecting on your health, thinking about what the new decade will bring and how you can improve your lifestyle. The ultimate goal would be a better quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.
If you’re turning to the idea of incorporating exercise after a long break OR beginning your first fitness program, I want to make sure you do it safely and keep injuries at bay.
Nothing is worse than an injury! Just ask my worn out delts. I’ve been rehabbing them forever.
Here’s a simple checklist to consider before you jump back into any exercise program:
Call the Doc
Make an appointment with your physician to get a check-up before you start an exercise program. This is particularly true if you’ve been away from any kind of physical activity for a period longer than a year.
While exercise is nothing to be afraid of, it’s helpful to have a baseline for your health.
What is the state of your cardiovascular health? If you’re already puffing and panting while climbing the stairs, best get that checked. I started my own wellness journey wearing a heart monitor for a week!
Are you at risk for any injuries? Is there a pre-existing weakness in your physical structure that must be kept in mind?
Having an awareness of the condition of your physical self is not only powerful for your wellness but it will also help you choose the type of fitness plan that works best for you.
PS. You most likely don’t need to wait before you start some gentle movement like walking, so don’t use this – the visit with your doctor – as an excuse to put off getting that body in motion.
Make a plan
If you’ve never exercised before, I completely understand how overwhelming it can feel. I was completely clueless when I first started working out and now look!
That’s why I’m here to help. First things first, you need to take a look at your goals. What do you want to achieve?
Perhaps your goal is to lose 20lbs this year and be able to play with your grandkids without huffing and puffing…that’s wonderful!
This means you’ll most likely want to do a combination of strength training, think lifting weights, resistance bands or bodyweight moves like pushups and squats, and cardiovascular training things like running, power walking, rowing, rebounding, elliptical machine, biking.
Now putting it all together is usually where you can get lost.
Sample Workout Week at a Glance:
|1||Full Body Strength Training||Cardio 30 minutes||Full Body Strength Training||*Active rest- 30 minutes||Full Body Strength Training||Cardio 30 minutes||OFF or Active Rest -30 minutes|
*Active Rest day means you will still keep your body in motion, but you’ll work at a more moderate pace. Here are a few examples:
- Horseback riding
- Kayaking or canoeing
- Self Myofascial Release (also called SMR- foam rolling or using a massage ball to work out knots and tight spots)
TIP: If you’re thinking you need a fancy gym or a ton of equipment, think again. My Home Exercise essentials will more than get the job done and they won’t break the bank!
Now Hang Your Ego on the Door
This was always one of Bob’s (my personal trainer and late husband) favourite expressions. An overactive ego prevents us from listening to the body’s own signs of wellness. None of us can make up for lost time by jamming 3 weeks or several years worth of missed physical exercise into one day.
Time lost is time lost. You can and will make it up. Taking massive action right now is the cure.
But trying to run 10km on your first workout back in 10 years is not going to end well!
Instead, use your first few sessions to focus on getting back into motion. These workouts should be performed at an intensity that does not overly tax your muscles, joints or the cardiovascular system.
You will get there!
Listen to your Body
KNOW THAT PAIN IS A SIGN TO STOP. If you experience pain or discomfort, extreme tiredness or shortness of breath, know that this is a sign from your body. Don’t train under these circumstances as this will only lead to further complications or injury.
Pain means STOP!
Eat Clean for Results and Recovery
Your new fitness routine will place new demands on your body. You need to treat it well by fueling it with the best nutrients possible to help your body recover from workouts and keep your energy high. I look at this as developing a new relationship with food such that food becomes deliberately chosen to heal, fuel, strengthen and rebuild your physical body.
Focus on nourishing your body with the highest quality of nutrition possible. Depend on quality not quantity to help your body meet these new demands. You can get the Coles Notes version of how to Eat Clean HERE.
Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
Hydration is the number 1 nutritional deficiency in North America. And exercise brings your hydration needs up a big notch. You’ll definitely want to increase your water intake!
When you hydrate during your workout you’ll notice a significant increase in your performance. Drinking water throughout your workout will help to regulate your body temperature and blood pressure making it easier to get through the final few reps.
PS The last reps you do bear the greatest fruit so go get ‘em!
When in Doubt, Follow the Formula
I’m hoping you’re still following along with me and I haven’t lost you at the exercise schedule.
But if I have, let me simplify this exercise thing just a bit more for you and introduce you to my
I created this formula based on the science of Dr. John Ratey’s book, Spark. It’s the simplest fitness plan out there! Here it is:
- I encourage you to move your body 5 to 6 days a week in deliberate physical activity.
- While exercising be sure to get your heart up to a point called your Maximum Heart Rate or MHR (see below). And that’s it!
How to Determine your Maximum Heart Rate
Subtract your age from the number 220. Here’s my own calculation. I’m 60 now.
Baseline # – Tosca’s Age = Maximum Heart Rate
220 – 60 = 160
That is the rate at which your heart should be beating, if you’re 60 like me, while exercising, for best results. Do this 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes and you’ll be able to chase after your grandkids, your dog and your husband (haha!) in no time!
Starting an exercise program is an exciting prospect. Your body is a fresh canvas waiting to be transformed. I know that when you follow these steps, ones I have followed myself, you will achieve the results you’re looking for with sweat and consistency.
I can’t wait to hear how you do!