Monday, September 26, 2016

Fitness: Make it a Choice

Turning 40 was a milestone I wanted to remember with a smile, not as the start of new aches and pains, and this has been my biggest motivation over the last couple of years to reach a stage where fitness is a big part of my life. If I don't workout or do something active on a certain day, I feel uncomfortable, like I'm missing something. I know that many factors might change, maybe I will start that full-time job or something else might take up more of my time, but I know now that I will always manage to make time for myself and my fitness. I felt compelled to write down my thoughts on how I got here, so here goes:

Find what works for you: Different ways of exercising might work for different folks, for example - many would swear by a gym routine or a group class as the dynamic is great and setting a regular schedule works well for them. In my case though, this just wasn't the right fit as I find it easier to keep my workout timing a bit flexible. I realized that I was finding it a challenge to get to my one group workout once a week - it seems like something or the other keeps coming up just at that time!! What has clicked for me is to find home workouts that are interesting, and to set a time limit of pre-lunch at the latest to get it done. This means that I have to change up and re-plan workouts every now and then, but I don't mind that. Fitness Blender is a great example of a site that offers free workouts with a whole lot of variations and you can choose the one that fits your current fitness level and work your way up!

Plan ahead: There was a point when I ended up missing days simply because I spent too much time looking for what to do on a particular day :P. I learnt my lesson and now make sure to have at least a general idea of what I want to do for a week or month. Picking up a challenge or a 60/90 day workout plan works even better as long as you plan according to your fitness level. In my case for example, I feel comfortable with a one hour workout but sometimes have to modify some of it to low impact to be able to complete it. I prefer to stick to challenging workouts, that I almost can't complete, rather than aim too low, as this is the only way to keep getting better. You can also keep track of number of reps, weight lifted etc so that you can easily make out your improvement over the days/weeks.

Watch your form: If you're new to working out, doing new exercises at a gym under a trainer's eye might be a good approach. I would recommend this for yoga as well, as personal feedback about poses helps a lot for beginners. Once you are clear in your mind about the form, then doing it at home becomes a good option, possibly in front of a mirror to check if you're doing it right. This is essential because just expending energy and sweating it out will not have the results that you want, if the form for the exercises is incorrect.

Don't let setbacks stop you: There will be illnesses, work, travel, and a million other reasons for a break in your workout schedule. Don't let this dishearten you - just back sure that you get back every single time. I am currently trying out the P90X workout, and have been joking that it might take me 180 days instead of 90 :). But the important thing is, I know I'll get it done.


Develop your knowledge: I started going to the gym in my 20s, but now I realize that I had no clue what I was trying to achieve (except to lose that tummy, which remains an eternal goal ;)). I just used to blindly follow what the trainer told me, and while I'm sure they were well-meaning, you need to understand your own body to get the results you want. With the learning from classes I've been to, and understanding better about how specific types of workouts affect my body, I can now workout a schedule tailor-made for me. While cardio/steps taken were the main focus earlier, I now find strength training to be the most important component of my workout plans. I don't think anyone should wait to turn 30 or 40 to start weights, the earlier the better! I make sure my workouts are intense enough, while at the same time know when to take a break or a rest day when I cannot manage a full workout. On such days, even a light walk or an hour of your favorite game helps keep the momentum going.


Motivators: Only you can find your own - It could be a workout partner, your family, or it could be an online group. A wonderful fitness conscious group on Facebook called "Fit Right In" was a big reason for my growth in this area. Folks who don't just share knowledge freely, but also follow up on you if you go missing, that's what you get with a good fitness support group or partner. In a smaller way, the Fitbit and other stats-based apps have also helped to quantify my improvement, so these could be worth checking out as well. I recently wrote about the Fitbit Blaze, and its earlier version, the Flex, was one of the motivators for my getting on a fitness regimen.
Catch 'em young!
I know that was a long one, so thank you for reading this far :). This is the story of how I decided to be #fitbyforty and now am very close to my goal of being #fitatforty.

Do you have a workout plan? How did you arrive at it? Do share with me in the comments!