NEW ALBANY — Just a few quick thoughts on transitioning from a sedentary, not-very-good-for-you lifestyle to a healthy one:
• The first week isn't easy. I'm sore. I've had a few days where I've been dragging tail. But I know it'll pass. I've been through this before, and trust me folks, it gets easier. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to turn a new behavior into a habit. I'm through Day 7, and I know that I've got a ways to go before this starts to feel natural to me.
There's never a good time to start a diet. Look, there's always going to be something going on, some reason why it's not the right time. If you really want to get healthy, you can't just sit there and wait for that time to come along. You've got to decide that no matter what else is going on, this is something that needs to happen.
For me, this week was the week of the Super Bowl. In my world, that means gathering with friends, eating too much, drinking some beer and playing cards while I try to keep up with the game. While I didn't exactly go all out while I was at this year's party, I did succumb to temptation. Given the fact that my plans were going to take up a lot of time away from my own kitchen, I probably should have packed something to eat instead of relying on my hosts to have healthy food around. Lesson learned. This brings me to my next point...
• If you have a lapse, don't use it as an excuse to quit altogether. The worst thing you can do is let a moment of weakness be the end of the road for your journey to better health. I hate to sound cliche, but it's definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. You're going to have good days. You might have a few bad ones. The key is to put those bad days behind you, learn from them and move on.
If you try to stay strong all the time, you're going to crack. But by the same token, if you allow yourself those moments of weakness too often, you're doomed to fail. Try to keep your willpower about you, avoid bad influences when you can and pay attention to what was going on during those times when you do screw up. You might learn something about yourself that allows you to succeed the next time you're put in a similar situation.
• Cardio and I are not friends, but we're starting to warm up to one another. If you're out of shape and you're trying to lose weight, there's no better calorie burner than aerobic exercise. The problem is that if you're out of shape, things like running long distances are going to use you up pretty quickly. Ease back into it. Walk before you jog. When you're good with jogging, go ahead and give running a try.
I know I'm not there yet. Even when I was in the best shape of my life, cardio didn't figure much into my workout plans. I did it by putting on muscle, which is also a good way to heighten your metabolic rate, but I still probably lacked the stamina that the workout routine I'm using now is going to grant me.
Today, I did certainly the longest cardio routine I've ever attempted. My trainer will probably find that sad, but I just get bored too easily. I like having variety when I'm active. So when I hit the elliptical for 25 minutes today, I started off by listening to some music on my iPod (which still works after not turning it on for three freakin' years! Go Apple!), and then I switched over to a TED podcast when I switched to the treadmill for another 20-minute stretch.
If you don't do something to keep your mind engaged, you will focus on your discomfort. Fatigue will dominate your thoughts. You can't let that happen. If you don't like music, get a radio and turn it to your favorite talk show. Don't like listening to people talk? Grab a magazine. Read a book. Pick up a copy of the News and Tribune. I know the news down this way is rarely boring.
• Stay hydrated. Get a water bottle. Mine's not big enough. I have to refill it too often. If you run out of water while you're on the treadmill, you're going to have to interrupt the flow to get more, and that's no good because part of the workout is keeping that heart rate up.