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Introduction

The ethos behind Self Sufficient Me is as much about health & fitness as it is growing your own and eating healthily. Therefore, I hope some of you enjoy reading my take on the subject of self sufficient fitness because eating healthy and growing organic food is all good but unless you include some fitness and exercise a self-sufficient lifestyle isn't fully complete!

SSM Not Just a Gardening Website

Indeed, some people see a website like Self Sufficient Me and immediately assume it's a fruit and vegetable gardening site – nothing wrong with that. Needless to

The Weigh In...

say, my view of self sufficiency goes way deeper than just growing food. Self sufficiency to me means employing self sufficient principals in as many aspects of my life as possible and in this article I'm going to show how self sufficiency can extend to physical fitness.

A little About My Fitness

I'm no gym junkie with rippled abs – far from it. And, I have struggled at times with motivation to exercise and to shed unwanted, excess weight. It's human nature to slacken off occasionally or to lapse due to other complications in life like injury or work commitments but then it's up to us to regather and get motivated again before we lapse too far. Thankfully, I can say my lifestyle for the most part has always included fitness and exercise ever since I can remember and when I have lapsed I've bounced back as motivated as ever and I know I'm better for it.

From early into my military career, part of my responsibilities was the daily physical training (PT) of other soldiers and I took that responsibility seriously. As a self assessment, and without sounding too egotistical (hopefully), I Home Gym & Legwas very fit in those days and it was my personal fitness that flagged my ability to my superiors and lead to me becoming the nominated representative to organise and take PT for my unit.

In those days, promotional courses taught future junior leaders how to conduct PT and when promoted to the rank of corporal, a soldier then had the authority to implement and supervise PT without the need of a fully qualified physical training instructor to be present. By the end of my 21 years of service, I was older and slower; however, I still was conducting physical training for my company (as the Company Sergeant Major) and it wasn't unusual for me to have 40 or more participants 2 – 3 times per week (in a morning class) ranging in ages from 17 – 55 years of age.

Consistency

I learnt many things about fitness and exercise over my army years and as a hobby in my civilian life, but if I had to choose the most important lesson I learnt it would be consistency. Consistently maintaining appropriate regular exercise keeps the body happy. Inconsistency and “yo-yo” exercising is much harder on the body overall. Also, no matter how age inevitably catches up with the body and it isn't as taught and terrific as it once was, if a person maintains even a moderately active lifestyle they will be miles ahead of a person the same age who doesn't.

Self Motivation

The key to maintaining a lifestyle, which includes regular exercise is self motivation and that is primarily what this article is about. But, before I continue with my 4 part article on views and tips about self sufficient fitness and how to develop and keep self motivation, I need to have a bit of a rant...

My Rant

Scared Away From Fitness

Fitness is a tricky subject to tackle these days because it's perceived as elitist, commercialised with equipment gimmickry, and advertised so heavily using stupidly, unrealistic skinny femaleArm Curl models and super-ripped, steroid munching males. It's little wonder the average person loses hope and motivation when their abs aren’t ripped in 6 weeks like the guy on Shopping Australia grinning at the camera as he curls his six pack with ease.

Adding to the general publics exercise anxiety, our litigant society means every TV personality has to precede every little bit of fitness advice they give with a medical warning saying you should consult your doctor first. Over the past few decades western society has turned a natural human action (exercising) into the boogie man. Coupled with advances in transportation, the growth in fast processed food, and the “work-first, live-second, be time-poor, but be cashed-up” attitude, it's little wonder many of us are getting fatter.

It's Less Dangerous Exercising Than Not

Far more people die from obesity related illnesses than people who die in the act of exercising and it's a ridiculous situation the western world have gotten themselves into when media can hype about the extremely small percentage of deaths during organised physical activity but gloss over global obesity. It's becoming the norm to be uncomfortably over weight these days, as young women flirt their chubby tummies publicly in crop tops with pride because they're told being “big” is beautiful, and men shamelessly strut around the malls in blue work shirts so tight if a button popped off it would ping under so much pressure it could be dangerous.

Just Laziness?

You'd think once people started having trouble walking they'd stop and change their lifestyle but for some reason many of them aren’t. And, I do not believe this behaviour of overeating and under exercising is overwhelmingly a mental health issue – I think it's just laziness, under education and limited government funding to community sports and exercise facilities to encourage people to get out and be active.

Politics and Regulations

What was once a common-sense, everyday part of most peoples lives is now so politicised hardly anyone can be buggered doing any exercise at all. Take schools for example, there are all sorts of rules concerning fitness in schools: who can supervise exercise; what (if any) exercise is appropriate in schools, risk assessments, minority objections ruining it for the majority – oh, little Johnny would rather play the trombone, so I'm suing because you made him do little athletics at school and he couldn't get over the first hurdle.

School Curriculum

In Australia, the school curriculum has been stuffed full to such an extent there is hardly any time in a studentsSchool Sports Gear day for appropriate exercise or sport. Given the choice and the Government pressures of education benchmarks (like the National Assessment Program) it's easier to do some classwork rather than “waste time” playing sport. This problem isn't helped by all schools now being ranked and publicly displayed online on their National Assessment results based on academia, but I don't see any similar assessment and ranking system in place for general fitness per child at each school (perhaps there should be as I'm sure some parents would like to know that statistic also). I put my hand up to help run the testing...

Government Health Campaigns

More importance has been given over past decades to academics in schools rather than health and fitness and where has that gotten us? The biggest epidemic of preventable diseases in history, like diabetes and obesity, that's where it got us. And, society pays a huge price to manage all these health problems. To top it off tax payers now foot the bill for expensive, Government ad health campaigns telling us all to get out and exercise... you can't promote health and fitness and in the same instance dedicate less time for sport and physical education in schools.

Being “brainy” or wealthy is no help to an unhealthy body. We need to influence our young people and teach them to enjoy being more active so hopefully some maintain their active lifestyle throughout their lives. As usual though, governments talk-the-talk but don't walk-the-walk (pardon the pun).

Who Cares? I Do

I know much of the above may sound harsh, however, I'd like to help with this lack of exercise problem in our society and that's why I write this stuff; not out of spite, or big noting, but because I care about my community and fellow humans around the globe. I know if some people could just be persuaded to shed a few pounds they'd be happier for it and our whole community would benefit. That's the end of my rant, now let's get stuck into self sufficient fitness.

Personal Trainers

With respect to self sufficient fitness, let me controversially begin by stating: you do not need a personal trainer – that's for yuppies with too much money and elite athletes (that's my belief). If you're at a gym and need help with operating a piece of equipment the establishment is obliged to have qualified staff on hand to help for free anyway.

Fitness training is basic common-sense and as easy to learn as walking and running. Babies learn these skills from a very early age so I'm sure we adults can do them. Once we're doing the basic exercises well, moving to other types of exercise is easy, educate yourself through reading, watching, asking, and doing – it's not rocket science. The best person to motivate and train you is yourself because once you develop the habit/interest (exercise lifestyle) you will find it easier to continue training if you were the one with original ownership.

Ladies Sports Gear

If you're relying on someone else to motivate you and make your training decisions you may get good short term results but when your personal trainer isn't around or you or they move away be-it in a few months or years then it's more likely you'll lose interest and stop your exercise routine. The other point about personal trainers is they cost money - why pay for a service you can easily do yourself when you can cut the middle-man, be self sufficient, and use the extra cash saved for other things, like monthly rewards for yourself for sticking with your fitness training.

Free” Personal Trainers

Don't rely too much on “free” personal trainers either like your spouse or friend to be your motivating factor. Sure, discuss and share your goals with them and accept any help they are willing to give and sometimes sharing your goals with friends, family, or publicly can help you to stick with your plan out of shame if you give up. You may even have common goals and regularly exercise together or with another group (like a runners club); but, be careful not to lean on them to an extent where you praise them for getting you “on the track” and then scald them for “making” you miss your training because they weren't there for you on a particular day. It's not other peoples responsibility for you maintaining or reaching your fitness goals – it never will be – it can't be – and it's your body not theirs, so, their role can only ever be a support one rather than a primary motivator.

SportTennis Night

Social sport is another area which we should be cautious about with respect to personal exercise. Sport isTennis Raquet great and training for sport is good too; however, as a substitute to personal fitness it's better than nothing but not a good idea. Firstly, social sport is usually seasonal so there are bound to be significant patches throughout the year when no physical activity is done. Secondly, not many social sports train and play several times a week so exercise is irregular; and thirdly, social sports don't tend to be intense enough to dramatically influence fitness.

Having said that, sports are excellent when used to supplement our regular exercise and fitness training. Done correctly sports can help improve our fitness and keep us motivated and interested in physical activity.

Why should we exercise?

The majority of us don't get near enough physical exercise in the course of our daily lives to keep us reasonably healthy. With easy access to public transport, personal motor vehicles, modern work culture, and social demands, we're just not active enough to keep our bodies interested. Most of us know regular exercise helps to control weight gain or lose the extra chub we've put on over Christmas but what are some other benefits of exercising? The following is a small list of some gains to be made through regular exercise * (the assumption that the person does not have an underlying medical condition is made for the following points):

 

  • Less tired – Do you or have you ever consistently lacked energy and felt tired throughout the day or just lacked concentration? If you do and you're not a regular exerciser or don't suffer from a serious illness then it's time you started training to get that zing back into your daily life. Becoming fitter will get your energy back and help relieve you from those “feeling tired all the time” symptoms, which are practically caused by poor fitness levels and not enough oxygen circulating through your blood.

  • Restless sleeping – Speaking about tiredness, it's normal to be tired at the end of a day and in the evening before bed. However, poor fitness can directly influence your sleeping patterns, which can also make a person tired throughout the day. A mate of mine runs a sleep lab and his team conducts nightly sleep tests on individuals who are having trouble sleeping through the night. This testing helps diagnose issues with how the person sleeps and then tries to find various therapies to correct the problem. My friend tells me 99% of his patients are overweight and if they simply lost weight their medical condition would go away. Aside from that, exercising really does help you to sleep more soundly so if your sleeping condition is not weight related then you may be pleasantly surprised by how a good 40 minute training session helps you sleep better at night.

  • Feeling puffed-outBeach and KidsIf you get puffed-out climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock) well who doesn't! However, if you're the type who hunt for the escalator or elevator when at the shopping mall because walking a flight of stairs almost makes you hurl, then this is a sign that you need to start training. Every day tasks like climbing a flight of stairs or walking up the soft sand at the beach to get back to the car should be easily managed and not a laborious thing to do.

  • Reduce Stress – Had a tough day at work? Want to ring your inexperienced, opinionated bosses neck till their eyes pop out? Then, take it out on the punching bag or treadmill – you'll feel heaps better. Also, medical research has proven exercise and fitness helps reduce stress by releasing endorphins (a natural chemical) into the body to combat stress and pain.

  • Bone density – Without getting too scientific or medical about it, regular exercise stresses our skeletal structure, which causes it to adapt and grow/stay stronger. There is medical evidence that suggest stronger bones helps to guard against unnecessary bone fractures and diseases like osteoporosis two very good sites to visit for more information are the Australian http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/about/about-osteoporosis/preventing-osteoporosis-excercise/ and USA sites http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis/prevention/exercise If you are not exercising regularly you may be at risk of developing bone problems.

  • Sore joints – Sore joints, particularly lower limbs, are not always attributed to an injury. It's possible the only problem a person has is they're overweight (even slightly) and losing even just a few pounds through appropriate exercise can make those aching knees go away.

  • The Unexpected – Throughout our lives most days go the way we want them to go. Sometimes however, the unexpected inevitably happens and this is when being moderately fit and healthy can help. For instance:

    • Accident – If you are involved in an accident of some sort and are injured the fitter you are prior to the injury the better chances you have of recovery. My sister's a trauma nurse and an assistant anaesthetist, she's often comments on how more difficult less fit patients are to treat and subsequently recover from injury.

    • Illness – For major illness or the common cold the fitter you are before the more likely you'll cope better with the illness.

    • Event – You pick the children up from school but you forgot your umbrella and suddenly the sky opens up to thunder and rain. You and the kids need to make a mad dash to your car to escape the storm. If you're not a regular exerciser, you risk injury during the mad dash or very least the next day you'll likely be sore as hell and take a week to get over the ordeal. Whereas, the fitter person not only got to the car faster and didn't suffer later but probably enjoyed the extra sprint training that day.

  • Active in old age – These days with vast improvements in medical technology the average lifespan has increased dramatically and that's terrific! Nevertheless, it's no fun living longer if our quality of life is restricted because we can't move on our own. Especially, if our incapacity was exasperated by inactivity and may have been avoided through regular exercise. At my tennis centre, some players are in their 80's and are still very competitive on the tennis court – it's great to see these oldies loving life and they're such an inspiration to me.

  • Cardiovascular System – Your heart and lungs and the way your blood vessels transport oxygen around your body and remove toxins shouldn't need any explanation. Regular exercise and improving your fitness will directly improve what you can't see and that's your cardiovascular system. Training for 40 minutes at least three times per week will lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure. With a healthier cardiovascular system, there are less things that can go wrong.

It's never too late to begin exercising and by beginning exercising you may never know how close you were to a looming disaster like stroke because by changing your lifestyle you may just prevent something like stroke happening to you.

Just Starting out?

If you Legs on Treadmillare just starting out with exercising or haven't exercised in a long time reading this article is a great sign! The fact that you are reading about fitness in order to find more information is the first step to physically starting your program. Educating yourself about this simple subject is the best way for you to dispel myths and find your best approach to becoming a fitter person. Reading enough about fitness and exercise to get started shouldn't take too long at all and let your expansion into more advanced areas be a natural slow progression rather than a complicated cram.

Begin with the Basics

In the meantime, if you are unsure where to begin then starting with the basics is always the best way. Like I stated earlier, walking and running are basic movements and you don't need to be a physical education teacher to know how. Walking and running also happen to be very effective ways to exercise and you don't need a gym or special equipment to get started. Not requiring a gym for your exercise routine is a big advantage for the busy person, traveller, or money saver, because your training can be conducted anywhere.

Keep Your Training Simple and Flexible

When I was a soldier there were many occasions when I was away from my familiar environment without access to gym facilities etc; nevertheless, falling back on the basics like running and walking were easy ways to continue my fitness lifestyle away from home.

Flexibility with your exercise regime makes you less likely to pay it off for another day. There's nothing worse than being locked-in to a particular session, area, time, or type of exercise andBikes are low impact Exercise Alternative then being unable to do anything because one of those planets failed to line up. Keep options available and have an easy backup plan to grab if your scheduling messes with your first choice. I used to always fall back on push-ups and sit-ups if I happened to be unable to make it to a gym on my gym days. Using other forms of exercise or innovating when your primary fitness training is not possible is better than fobbing your training off altogether.

Use exercise to relax

You've heard the saying, “going for a walk or run to clear my head,” well that's so true. Your mind benefits in the act of exercising also, this is the time for taking in your surroundings, or solving problems by thinking them through along the way. I sometimes think about articles and writing; often I've developed my next post during a jog. So, don't think of exercise as a chore needing to be done; rather, try to incorporate it into your day and use it to relax or think.

Walking and running can naturally lead to other types of exercise down the track but getting the basics going first is certainly no waste of time. Furthermore, if walking is all you ever end up doing as part of your regular exercise for life then pats on the back and well done to you.

 

Treadmills are handy in Bad Weather

Treadmills are handy in Bad Weather

 

Realistic Expectations

Body Shape

Body shape and how people look are major factors in why people want to get fit. If looks is what motivates you then use vanity and your mirror as a tool for self motivation. However, don't forget about health on the inside and looking good and healthy isn't all about how many kilograms you lose in the shortest time possible. Being unhealthily skinny is as bad as being unhealthily overweight and both look unappealing. The natural, healthy, fit you is what you're after and what you should strive to obtain.

Arm Curl Left Bell

 

Body Weight

Everyone's body is built differently and not everyone has the genetics to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger no matter how hard they workout (believe me I've tried). Therefore, we need to work with what we have and that's not all bad because everyone, no matter what genetic shape they have, are capable of looking attractive when reasonably fit and healthy. Being not too fat or not too skinny for your shape and size is beneficial in three key areas:

  • Your health – the right weight gives your immune system reserves to fight disease and issues you body needs to cope with and also puts less daily stress on your vital organs.

  • Your well-being – when you're in a healthier weight range you can do more things without feeling tired or puffed-out, like: play with your kids, go on a big shopping walk around town, handle the heat better. Being able to do these physical things more easily helps your mental well-being and the ability to better cope with life's challenges.

  • Your appeal – You look better when you're the right weight for your body shape and this makes you more appealing to others and yourself. We may not have a super body figure but if we're the right weight for shape it's still a sexy look. Plus, it's way easier and comfortable to fit into clothes when you're not trying to hide lumps or fill empty spaces.

Your natural weight range

Assigning yourself to an exact weight is just adding undue pressure. Try and set a weight range you'll be happy to be within – this is an easier way to reach and maintain weight goals. Everyone has a natural weight range tHome Peck Deck Stationhat their body will try to manage without conscious help from you. People who live an active lifestyle don't usually need to jump on the scales too often because their bodies have long adapted and have set the weight it wants to be. The body will do a good job in maintaining this weight (give or take a few kgs) unless something drastic happens to force change; such as, illness, sedentary lifestyle change for an extended period, extra exercise or exertion for an extended period, or long periods of too much or too little nutrients (food).

Body Adaptation

The biomechanics of the human body are amazing and our biology has evolved to such advanced levels that we have the ability to adapt to our environment through hormonal and chemical changes in our body. The adaptation doesn't start immediately however, because your body doesn’t want to “knee jerk” and be disadvantaged by quickly changing to a short lived environment or habit. Therefore, the body usually takes a number of weeks before it decides to slowly change so it's sure it's adapting correctly to your environment or new behaviour. Examples of this change are things like: starting exercise but only seeing minor weight loss for the first few weeks than suddenly you start shedding the kilos, and the opposite, a fit person who regularly exercises suddenly stops exercising but keeps eating the same – this person usually won't stack on the pounds immediately their exercise stops and they may actually maintain their weight for many weeks after before eventually starting to gain weight. One of the most effective and fastest ways to make the body adapt and also increase metabolism is through strength training like working-out with weights.

Metabolism

In the last example, the body will initially keep its metabolism high and burn the excessWeights Bench Press energy rather than converting it to fat (as if the person were still exercising) because the body is assuming the person will remain active and the pause in activity may just be temporary. After a few weeks of the same nil activity the body starts to realise the person is no longer as active so it reverts to converting some of the food intake to fat by slowing down metabolism.

Apparently, this metabolic behaviour by our bodies is a genetic trait belonging to our prehistoric ancestors. When food wasn't always easy to obtain especially through winter in the prehistoric ages, the body learned to store fat as reserves in the good-times for when food was scarce (like winter). According to genetic scientists, our bodies haven't changed much since prehistoric times although our food gathering techniques have changed drastically and are much improved. Modern western civilisations can practically eat their fill every day, which seems to be why many in our society are packing on the pounds because their bodies are constantly in good-time mode waiting for the lean times that never arrive.

Simply, in order to regulate our weight (or simulate lean-times) we need to burn as much energy as we consume and be careful not to overeat for extended periods or over indulge in high energy foods. That's where regular exercise and a reasonably healthy diet helps.

Why is natural weight range and body adaptation important to know?

It's important to understand natural weight range and body adaptation because many people give up exercising prematurely when they don't see any immediate changes to their body. They think all their effort was a total waste and exercise makes no difference. If they knew sometimes the body can be slow to show it's adapting and changing and this is perfectly normal, more people would continue to exercise until they reached the body adapting point. Be assured your body has immediately “flagged” your extra exercise and is working on making changes (like building extra muscle or shedding extra weight) and these changes will begin to show physically in good time albeit slowly (and then start accelerating) if you just keep at it and be patient.

It's not about being or becoming super fit

For the majority of us being fit and healthy is about longevity, mobility, and quality of life (especially as we age). Hence, stLifestyle Being Fit Enough to Keep up with Kidsriving to become Olympic athlete fit is unnecessary and possibly even harmful as the threat of over-exercising arises. That's not to say you can't train hard but if competition is not in the equation then train smart. A quick way to lose self motivation to exercise is through injury. Going like a bull at a gate when your goals are to be fit and healthy will just get you hurt and sorry.

Many people train for particular events as this mindset enables them to stay motivated. I have friends like this who are always looking to the next triathlon, city-to-bridge run, or other upcoming event as an excuse to knuckle down and train for it. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with participating in these events as long as you can delineate between participating and competing. If your goals are to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle then stick with that goal don't murky up the water and suddenly try and drop your bike times down to Olympic standards at 50 + years old or you're looking for trouble.

Understand that being fit for your age is a massive achievement by itself and you don't need to quantify this achievement to yourself or others by busting a gut and breaking speed records. Compete by all means but do it for fun and most importantly do it within your ability without getting swept up in the hype and you will be fitter, healthier, happier, safer – and not in hospital.

Exercise Lifestyle, Change, and Self Motivation

How often have you or people you know made spot lifestyle decisions in the heat of the moment only to regret or lose interest later. Deciding to start exercising and getting fit is one of those classic scenarios, like giving up smoking, drinking, or chocolate, where all good intentions can end up being an unrealistic painful journey to inevitable failure. More often than not it's the measured and planned approach that brings lasting change and success to lifestyle behaviours like exercise, giving up smoking, or reducing alcohol consumption etc.

 

Changing long standing habits can be very difficult both physically and mentally so breaking down the journey into smaller legs may assist in getting there slowly, but, nevertheless still getting there. Make the journey one long leg to be completed in one go can be courageous, but unfortunately foolish, and cause breakdown before reaching the end.

I prefer the tortoise (not the hare) approach to exercise; thereby, giving every chance the slow integration of exercise into lifestyle will become a permanent behavioural change not a fad.

Walkies!

Who could resist taking this happy fella for a walk...

Mistakes People New to Exercising Make

Below are some mistakes people new to exercising make in hampering their journey to becoming a regular exerciser:

 

  • Go too hard too soon – Give your body a chance to adapt before going full throttle. If you haven't exercised before or for a long time show restraint by training well within yourself for the first month at least. This gives your cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems time to adapt, grow and harden to your new active lifestyle. If you overdo your training at the start injury can set your health and fitness back many months and seriously damage your motivation.

  • Incorrect gear – Don't be afraid to spend some cash on good exercise attire. Appropriate footwear is essential for the type of exercise you are doing. For example, if you are walking or running then high impact, good fitting, high quality joggers are required to Exercise Breakdownlimit stress on joints, ligaments, muscles and prevent blisters. Also, bike pants (by themselves or under shorts) are advisable to limit chaffing, which can be quite painful and lead to another excuse to stop exercising. Other things like hats, sunglasses, and comfortable light clothing all help to decrease annoyances whilst training so the overall experience is as good as possible to keep you motivated.

  • Lack of rehydration – Drinking water during and after training is vital. Worst case, lack of water whilst exercising can make you seriously ill or even cause death. Best case, lack of water can make you uncomfortable; such as, feeling dizzy, sick, headaches, or just lacklustre. Either way worst or best, lack of rehydration will hamper your fitness goals; therefore, an easy preventative is to always carry water with you and drink small amounts regularly. After training, ensure you drink water appropriately throughout the day and watch the colour of your wee – it should be light yellow/greenish – if it's dark with a strong odour drink more water because you're already dehydrated.

  • Drastic changes in Diet – Eating healthy is good and we've all heard the healthy diet with regular exercise slogan before. However, strictly limiting calories when you've just started your new life of exercise and fitness is not going to help you reach your goals. Don't skip meals or go on a “carrot juice only diet” thinking this will supplement your exercise routine and help you lose weight, because your lack of energy will negatively affect your self motivation and prevent your workout from being as productive as it could be. Therefore, either don't change your diet drastically initially or eat healthy food and plenty of it so your body gets the fuel it needs to exercise and the nutrients it needs to re-build, adapt and grow stronger.

  • Inconsistency - To gain benefits from exercising it needs to be done regularly. It doesn't always have to be the same activity it just needs to be regular (like daily or every second day). A person just starting training for the first time or after a long break should expect some muscle and joint soreness. If regular exercise is subsequently maintained the muscle soreness should disappear over a few weeks. However, if that person stops and starts leaving several days between exercising, then, the soreness will likely remain and could again deter the person from continuing to exercise for the long term.

  • Set unrealistic goals – One of the most common mistakes I've heard and seen from people just starting out exercising is setting out to achieve the unachievable. Don't decide in mid November to drop 15 kilos by Xmas so you look good when the family arrives because it will only cause you to: rush; panic; cheat (like starving yourself); and get hurt. When you fail to reach your goal your self motivation takes another hit. The best goal you can set yourself when starting exercising is vowing to still be exercising regularly in 12 months time. Sure, check your progress in areas like weight loss or muscle gain but don't be too obsessed with these things initially.

  • No time to exercise – This is an awful but frequent excuse for shelving a persons exercise program and giving up. No time to exercise is like saying I haven't time to go to the toilet. Our health is the most important aspect of our lives and without it we don't have one. You must make time and you do have the time in the day if you make training a priority. Yes, there will be times when you will miss workouts and when that happens endeavour to reschedule (as you would an important meeting or appointment). Exercise Log

  • Logging your workouts – in conjunction with the point above and my final point in mistakes people new to exercising make is the failure to log their workouts. Days blend into weeks, workouts get forgotten, and one of the best motivational tools you can have is a workout log which records what, when, where & how.

    • What – what exercise type you actually did (5 km/mile run, 7 km/mile walk, weights, swimming, ride etc);

    • When – when did you start and finish your session? (7am and went for 45 mins);

    • Where – where was the session conducted? (in the gym, at home, park, road circuit, pool, sea, etc); and

    • How – how was the workout? (Did you feel energetic or lethargic during and after the workout, was the weather hot/cold, overcast or raining, were you sore in any areas, etc)

Analysing the Data

With these simple data and exercise notes you can build a statistical picture of your training and use it to monitor improvements, trends, and other areas for self motivation or self assess your progress.

Here's a fictional example: { your last 5 km jog may have taken you 35 mins , which statistically is an improvement of 10 mins from 12 months ago – today you will decide to try and beat this time. You run the 5 kms in 29 mins, which is a record. A week later you do the same run and your time is 34 mins and your puzzled at the poor result. When you look back at your exercise notes you find the 29 min run was done on a cool, overcast day; whereas, the most recent 34 min run was done on the hottest day this year.}

The example above shows how your long and short exercise data can log improvements in training overall for the longer-term and also assist in determining abnormalities in short term results thus helping to motivate you and evaluate your training. There are a number of ways you can log your workouts like manually in a diary, spreadsheets on a PC, or other devices.

Currently, I use my smart phone and an application called Endomondo, which is an excellent tool for automatic exercise logging. The application (once installed on your phone) uses GPS and Wi-Fi technology to calculate distances, speeds, and location. Also, Endomondo calculates calories burnt, gives voice prompts during a workout on time, distance, and pace, plus can be integrated with a heart rate monitor – pretty nifty for a free phone app hey! There are other exercise applications similar to Endomondo too (such as Cardio Trainer - pictured) but I have found Endomondo to be fairly reliable and the best so far.

Cardio Trainer LogOther Tools to Help Motivate You During Exercise

Let's be honest, exercise isn't always the most exciting and fun thing to do, and it's a bit like the drive to the beach - mostly boring but worth it when you get there. Below is some gadgetry to help motivate you during exercise:

 

  • Music – When I first started exercising with music in the 80's, I had to carry around this portable tape player, which was about the size and weight of a brick! I finally progressed Motorola Bluetooth Wireless Headsetto a CD player, which skipped constantly but I persisted. Then came the MP3 player, which really was a Godsend as it was light, had no moving parts, and unbreakable (until sweat dripped on it). And, now I use my phone, which is water/sweat resistant same with the wireless, blue-tooth headphones. Technology has grown exponentially these past two decades and we should take full advantage of it's offerings. If you're a music fiend like me then listening to music during your exercise routine is invaluable. Listening to music can help to:

    • Break up the boredom of repetitious exercise (like running);

    • Get you pumped and motivated whilst training;

    • Shut out other annoying distractions like public airing of daytime TV, traffic noise, the gym-grunter, general chatter, or young guys yelling abuse (or whistling) out of their car window as they drive past (I never get a whistle).

  • Mobile Phone – I discussed earlier about using my smart phone to log workouts; however, applications and music are not just what mobiles are good for. Carrying a mobile phone during your workout allows you the freedom to go and workout knowing you can still be contacted if required (rather than wasting a day or workout waiting for an important phone call). Also, a mobile phone can act as a safety device if you're exercising alone (like jogging). Contact-ability and safety can help motivate you to exercise, due to the extra piece of mind something like a mobile phone can give.

  • Heart Rate Monitor – As also briefly mentioned above (in logging workouts), heart rate monitors can be an effective tool to help motivate you and monitor your workout. Sometimes you can be feeling better than your body is actually coping and vice versa. Therefore, a heart rate monitor can quickly give feedback giving a good indication about how your body really is coping with the level of exercise. If you find your heart rate suddenly soaring then it's obviously a sign to stop or slow down; likewise, if your heart rate is barely above resting then you may want to increase intensity to a level suitable for your age, sex, and ability. Overall, optimal training results can be had just by using a simple device to measure your effort as you exercise

    Polar Wearlink BT Heart Rate Monitor

The Polar Wearlink Heart Rate Monitor can also be used with Cardio Trainer on your mobile phone

 I know all there is about exercise and fitness and I still can't get motivated!

Well unfortunately there's no hope for you... just kidding! Exercise regularity is one of the hardest habits to form. As explained, make exercise a critical part of your life (like your life depends on it) and create that ethos in your mind.

Get angry with yourself if motivation is lacking and get your butt moving. Imagine yourself in an ambulance on your way to hospital with your first heart attack and then being advised by your doctor to make lifestyle changes or you'll certainly die prematurely. Unfortunately, recovering from a heart attack isn't easy and starting your exercise lifestyle after this crisis would be such a pity considering you knew better all along and was well versed in personal fitness but you just didn't bother doing any.

Don't let anyone or anything deter you from your goal of becoming fit and maintaining your fitness. It's your right to be healthy and nothing – not work – not family – not culture – nor addiction, should discourage you from that right (or be an excuse) not to exercise. People around you who care would prefer to miss you for an hour whilst you go and do your exercise, than visit you in hospital because you didn't.

Give it a Try at least...

Give exercise a chance before you mothball it forever. Do exercise three times a week for six weeks without fail and then decide if exercise is or isn't for you. At least your choice will be an informed one and in six weeks you will have given yourself a chance to get a real feel for what it's like to be on your way to feeling like people who regularly exercise do. If you decide doing planned exercise isn't for you then at least you have given it a go for a period long enough to be truthful about it – clever people trial and evaluate.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed my self sufficient fitness four part article as an opener to my fitness writing. I'll be working on more fitness, health and well-being articles in the future (although I expect the articles will be significantly shorter than this one from now on).

If you want to increase your chances of living a longer, independent, and full-fulling life then doing some sort of regular exercise is terribly important. Don't wait for the “wake-up call” to begin your exercise lifestyle get into it now and start reaping the rewards because it's your body your life and you can't trade it in for another. Workout Complete

Remember the primary motivator for pushing you to exercise and getting the most out of your training is yourself. Don't rely on others to get you moving self motivation is a virtue within us all and the satisfaction of achieving your own self sufficient fitness lifestyle is worth every drop of perspiration.

Feel free to comment on this article or if you have any fitness stories you'd like to share use the comment section below (your email address will not be shown and is only requested to prevent spamming on our site). Our forum can be used for questions or sharing information also.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support,

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

Exercise, fresh air, and the sea...

Go for walk and smell living life...

 

 

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