Once upon a time, I was sitting on my sofa at 455 pounds watching a workout DVD I had put in. It was labeled “beginner” so I thought that I could do it. I didn't even make it past the warm-up before flopping down on the sofa out of breath with tears running down my face. The next day, I was sore and my feet ached. This is what the reality is for many severely obese people who try to do exercise after months, or years, of being sedentary.
I'm so thankful that not everyone will know what it's like to feel that desperation. How do you even start when you can't even do the “beginners” workouts? What gives you the motivation to begin something that seems so physically impossible? It still makes me tear up just thinking about it.
Whether you have 20 pounds to lose or 200 pounds to lose, these are my tips for starting and exercise program:
- Start small. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to enroll in a 30 day boot camp in order to consider yourself a success. I actually started by watching workout DVDs, but not doing them. I wanted to wrap my mind around knowing that I could do the moves. It was like psyching myself up for it. One day I did 10 minutes and was worn out. A few days later I did it again. Rinse and repeat.
- Don't get discouraged. You are your own measuring stick, so don't get discouraged if you can't do what you think others can do. Focus on doing your best for the day, and then trying for your best again next time. Everyone wishes they could do more, lift more, run faster – it's not just you.
- If you mess up, try again. Just because you skip a workout or only do half of it doesn't mean you're doomed to a life of being sedentary! You have an entire lifetime to keep trying.
- Listen to the doctor. Always consult your physician before starting a new program. Think about it- if you're doing something to start improving your health, shouldn't you make sure it's okay with the other person (besides yourself) who looks after your health?
- Start in a place of comfort. Not everyone wants to roll into the gym on day 1 and get started with a bang. We're afraid of being seen or of using equipment incorrectly. For me, I had to start working out with workout videos (as posted earlier today) because I didn't want anyone to see me work out. I wouldn't even let my husband in the same room while I did them. After I felt comfortable at home, I went to the pool at my gym. Since I used to be a swimmer, I felt comfortable in the water and knew it would be easy on my joints. From there, I started working out with a trainer and it's amazing how natural going to the gym feels.
- Focus on the end goal. You are trying to change your life. Changing your life isn't easy. You have to pick yourself up more times than you fall down in order to be successful.