Exercise Shouldn't Be a Chore
I remember this particular Garfield comic strip from when I was kid in which everybody’s favorite cat said, “You know what diet is? It’s ‘die’ with a T at the end!” I thought it was funny then, not realizing I’d see it sometimes as some far out wisdom now that I’m grown up and middle-aged.
Dieting and exercising are a way of life for many of us in New Mexico. Our cities have a wide selection of gyms. There are bike paths, walking trails, and grocery stores filled with food for the buying, and so much of it is good and good for us.
Obesity rates in New Mexico are turning around. Earlier this year, New Mexico Department of Health research found obesity among the state’s third-grade students declined 11.9 percent between 2010 and 2013. The effectiveness of efforts to curb obesity among elementary school students is evident in the results.
Meanwhile, a report released last summer from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2013, shows the number of obese adults in New Mexico is stabilizing. Statistically it means we’re not getting any thinner, not yet anyway, but after years of overall weight gain, we’re not getting any heavier either.
The only way more of us adults are going to getting fit is by changing our lifestyle to include more healthy food as part of diets and to start consistently exercising.
Believe me, I know from experience it’s not easy to start let alone stick with it, but I also know how much better I have felt both physically and emotionally in recent years having watched what I put in my body and exercising at the same time. The turnaround for me started when I realized exercise was fun and diet wasn’t merely ‘die’ with a T at the end!
As I watched what I ate, I started going to the gym, and reading off the Kindle app on my phone. Not the best way to maximize your workout, but it got me on the treadmill and the elliptical and it kept me there so I could finish the next chapter. Turns out reading and exercising worked for me.
I also started riding my bike again, and realized it was fun to be outside, to feel the breeze as I pedaled, to compete with myself to get further up the hill this time than the time before until I was able to in one trip make it all the way up without stopping. I even enjoyed the sense of community, saying hi to passing cyclists, runners and walkers and got into joining them in cheering each other on to keep going. Turns out there’s some science to this having fun business.
A new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found seeing exercise as being fun, not a chore, not only makes exercising more enjoyable, it means we tend to eat less when we’re done.
"Do whatever you can to make your workout fun. Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office," recommends Brian Wansink, study co-author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
The study shows one reason why those of us just starting new exercise programs often find ourselves gaining weight is that we have a tendency to reward ourselves by overeating after our workout.
The Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have the following recommendations to start losing weight:
Make a commitment. Just making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take.
Take stock of where you are. Examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. Talk to your doctor. He or she can evaluate your height, weight, and explore other weight-related risk factors you may have.
Set realistic goals. Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way.
Identify resources for information and support. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support.
Continually "check in" with yourself to monitor your progress. Revisit the goals you set for yourself (in Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly.
For more information visit the Losing Weight page of the CDC website.
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