I don’t know if I’ve ever discussed my weight loss much on my “California” blog. The last major goal I accomplished *before* moving to San Francisco, and essentially the goal that made it seem easyto change my life and move back to the West Coast, involved me losing 60-80 pounds (60 officially and probably 20 before I started tracking) via a combination of WeightWatchers at Work and a rigorous change in my exercise routine.
While I have gained about 15-20 pounds back (SF has really really good food you guys), I continue to stay super active in my day-to-day. Actually insane is probably a better word for it. Just yesterday I ran 10 miles, did a staircase tour with Walk San Francisco, then an eight mile (plus 4 each way to get there/back) bike lane survey ride with the SF Bicycle Coalition. All before 4 p.m. And since I couldn’t get a cab, ended up walking home a mile last night (although I may have fueled that with pizza, booze and burrito – again, I’m not perfect).
Anyway, I was thrilled to read this morning about someone very important to me starting her journey into fitness. I wrote her an email with the tips below and thought “oh that could be a blog post.” So here’s an amended version, in case you are looking for some fitness motivation for spring!
Meghan’s Tips for Starting a (Low-Budget) Exercise Routine from Scratch
1. Good shoes.
These are critical. Not only do they make it more comfortable, but also more sustainable. Avoid things like plantar fascitis, shin splints, etc. They don’t have to be über expensive, but make sure they’re meant for the activity you’re doing in them (running, walking, and so forth).
It’s a little tougher without a smart phone, but still doable. You can follow the program manually if you just use a timer and/or map your route beforehand. If you have a smart phone, there’s tons of great apps that will tell you when to run/walk.
3. Be ok with being slow or even walking sometimes
When I started running I was so self-conscious, but then I came to the zen realization that it was better that I was out there even just walking than at home on my couch sitting (and probably stuffing my face).
4. Be ok with rest days
Listen to your body! You’re starting strong out of the gate and some time soon your body’s gonna be all like “hey asshole, what are you doing? I’m not used to this! Waaah!” It’s okay to give her one day of rest. Better yet you can “rest” with some gentle stretching or restorative yoga poses at home. There’s loads of free videos out there for these.
5. Use the “half hour” rule
Even on a slow/rest day, tell yourself you’re going to keep yourself actively moving (whether jogging, walking, stretching) for 1/2 hour each day. This is sadly more than most Americans do, but it will start to make a big difference in your overall health.
6. Alternate exercises/routes
When you do the same thing every day, it starts to get boring and not fun anymore. This person has a super resource with these steep steps near her house, as well as a great park (with hiking trails). I suggested maybe doing steps two days and then do a nice flat jog on the other two days. Then maybe do a nice hike on the other (and then a rest/stretch day).
7. Rise and shine!
It SUCKS to make one big lifestyle change, but ANOTHER? What am I? CRAZY. Yes, yes I am. Probably the best advice I can offer is to get out of bed earlier and start your moving before you start your day. As the day goes on, you go to work, out with friends, etc. it’s really easy to find excuses to *not* exercise. So get it over with first thing!
8. Eat before you move
I only recently learned this in a breakfast nutrition class at 18 Reasons
. Even if it’s just a banana before you go for your jog, your body needs something to fuel it (even if you don’t feel hungry in the AM).
9. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Before and after. Drink more water than you thought you wanted (I *still* struggle with this one).
10. Set a goal
Again, as I mentioned, have something you want to work toward. The first one is probably running an “official” 5k. Find a buddy to sign up for one with you. As I may be visiting Portland this summer I promised her I’d do one with her.
10.5. Track your progress
The best way to keep goals in sight! Tweeting is fantastic and I also highly recommend using DailyMile
. It’s free. Not only do you get to keep track of your progress, it’s also a community and a fabulous place for encouragement. You’ll be surprised at how those numbers add up over the weeks too. I remember the first month I ran the equivalent of a marathon and how excited that made me as an overweight person who couldn’t have run 1 mile not long before.
Exercise can be the best
anti-depressant. It’s scientifically proven
. I don’t know what I’d do without it some times. No matter what b.s. I have going on in my life, when I hit the pavement or the yoga mat, I come out the other side just being able to deal
with it better. It doesn’t go away, but my approach is hella saner.
How did you start your fitness journey? What tips do you have for those just starting out?