If you are a regular exerciser, prepare to watch the population of your gym swell, the traffic along your sidewalk increase, or your favorite fitness trails become more congested in the coming weeks. With the New Year just days away, losing weight and getting in shape are at the top of people’s New Year’s resolutions. Many begin with the best of intentions but lack the support or stimulation to provide sustainable activity levels thus leaving annual contracts unfulfilled (yet having to be paid) and new sneakers kicked deeper and deeper into one’s closet.
To those of us who have made activity a part of our daily lives and to our brethren who have taken a sabbatical, let us consider new ways of moving and living our lives in a way that does not lead us to gain weight and will leave us in a healthier place than we are today. Here is a list of ways to make your life more engaging, more movement oriented and fun.
1. Have a look at your workout or your conceptions of what working out entails. If you have become bored with the elliptical or the thought of walking miles on the treadmill gives you hives, now, more than any other, exists a variety of ways to move that incorporate the outdoors and free props. “Playground Pump” for example is great for any caregiver looking after young children; just use the playground equipment for a great circuit workout. Parkour or freerunning is becoming a popular recreational activity that involves making use of your environment to climb, jump, roll and swing. Perhaps you have been to your local park walking your dog hundreds of times and have never tried the fitness course, give it a shot, it’s free, it’s outside and it’s fun!
2. Working out with partners has always been a crucial part in the success of an exercise program. If you engage in an activity that is team oriented, take a look in a local newspaper or on www.meetup.com and find a group that is congregating and doing that activity (i.e. bouldering, kickball, etc..). Making friends motivates us out of the house on a dark 6:30 evening or cold 8:30 weekday morning.
3. Youth coaching. Are you an “old jock” or have a penchant for assistant coaching or working with kids? Children love it when their coaches get involved and do drills with them. If you were a wrestler in high school, do some research and find a local team to donate your time to. Teams and clubs are always looking for adults with skills or a passion for the sport to support the next generation of athletes. While the kids practice, so can you!
4. Look into joining moderate to highly active volunteer projects. There are a number of local, state and nonprofit organizations looking for volunteers to build houses, eradicate nonnative species in a natural area, or become volunteer lifeguards. These are physically demanding positions that require movement and build stamina. They also build a sense of community and team building. Accountability is crucial to your success.
5. JumpSport! Jumping on a trampoline for one hour can easily burn 400-800 kcals an hour and it’s super fun. Create your own workout, look on the JumpSport site for ideas or find a group of interested people and assign each person to create a workout and playlist each week.
6. Fitness parties: Zumba and other dance fitness classes always garner a full house, why not collaborate with your friends and exercise buddies and collect money to have your favorite Zumba instructor come to your house or clubhouse for an hour or two to lead a private party? You can also do this with a personal trainer or a preferred group fitness instructor. Participants can bring drinks and food for after your workout.
7. Exercise classes “outside of the box”: while visiting my mother in Lake Tahoe, I saw a small flier in a coffee shop advertising a “Feldenkreis” class. Feldenkreis is a little known form of moving the body with roots loosely in Judo. It was a class I shall never forget. If you look in your town’s parks and recreation catalog or a local newspaper or website, you may find Qi Gong, Hula, or free surf lessons if you live somewhere warm. Why not take the opportunity and try one of these classes? Generally the first class is always free so you have nothing to lose. Experiment and play with movement. There is a whole world awaiting your pleasure.
8. Train for something. A lot of people enjoy the goal of a marathon or canoeing from point A to point B; crossing the finish line of a triathlon. These are popular and effective for keeping a person motivated, focused and engaged with other people. The feeling of accomplishment is one that can sustain someone for a lifetime.
9. Commit to losing 15 percent of your body weight. Perhaps you gained a few pounds over the holiday or the scale has been inching towards the right, if you can take 15 percent of your weight off, you are doing a lot for your body. If you are already slim or at your goal weight, maintain! Maintenance is an art unto itself. Once you have kept the weight off for six months and then a year; share your story! Inspire others, no doubt your relationship with food and activity has changed.
10. Start a low calorie potluck club. Coordinate a monthly potluck where each person or couple brings a dish that is low in calories (make sure you have equal savory and sweet dishes so the meal is not lopsided). Have the person write out the recipe. You can have blank recipe cards and pens available or have each person type or write out recipes for the participants. Play with themes to explore a variety of cuisines; add flavor to your theme by incorporating music and games that reflect the relevant place and time (i.e. kitschy foods from the Sixties, songs from popular TV shows like “Gidget” or “Bonanza” with dancing games).
These ten tips are sure to get your engine running and inspire you to end 2011 a better person, a more engaged citizen and satisfied individual. Stimulation, community, accountability and fun/entertainment are necessary components for keeping a person on track. You can do this, you can encourage other family and friends to do this; pass it on!
In Good Health,