Don’t Be Hasty

On February 6, 2013, in Fitness Nerd, Sandra Wickham, by Sandra Wickham

The start of a new year brings with it renewed energy, strengthened resolve and fresh enthusiasm for all things in life. Usually that includes new plans for health and fitness, with people determined to make big changes in the way they eat and in the amount of exercise they do. I wholeheartedly encourage this and wish you all the best in reaching your new goals (let’s not call them resolutions, that word has come to be synonymous with failure) in the coming year.

Before you run off and dive into those new goals, I’d like to caution you about jumping in with both feet. For example, if you haven’t run in years, don’t make it your goal to start jogging five miles a day. You’ll end up injured and over trained.  If you don’t want to stop just because it feels horrible to keep going, you’ll be forced to stop when your body starts to fall apart on you.

Artwork by Milo Winter. This image from The Aesop for Children is in the public domain.

Artwork by Milo Winter. This image from The Aesop for Children is in the public domain.

Ease into it. Baby steps, as they say, and work your way up slowly to bigger and greater challenges. If you haven’t exercised in years, then planning a walk through your neighbourhood three times a week is a great goal to start off with. If you’re used to walking and want to try running, take it slow. Add a few minutes of jogging into your walking routine and as you feel better, lengthen the time spent jogging. This applies to any sort of activity, whether it’s swimming, aerobics classes, tennis, or any other exercise you decide to undertake.

It’s true I’m probably simply repeating something people already know. Yet why do so many still do it? Perhaps impatience. We’re always looking to do things as quickly as we can. If a little is good, more must be better, right? Wrong! Overdoing it will only lead to injury, muscle loss, problems sleeping and other side effects. This way lies madness.

Another problem creeps up because when we start a program we expect results. Well, isn’t that why we’re doing the program? We’re now exercising like we’re supposed to, so we should be able to see a difference, right? Hold on. It’s never an instant fix. Remember, it took time to gain the weight, (get out of shape, etc) so give yourself time to take it off. Give your body a chance to adapt to new demands of a workout and have patience with the results.

Here’s something to put it into perspective for you. When I would train for a competition, I would give myself sixteen weeks to go from a relatively high fitness level, to being ready for stage. Four months! That’s because it takes that long to make the changes. Again, be patient.

It’s not a race, but if it were, take after the tortoise, not the hair. Slow and steady wins this race. All the best to you in your journey to health and fitness in the New Year!

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