5 Pitfalls of Exercise and How to Avoid Them

I’ve made a commitment to myself to exercise daily now that I’m feeling pretty much back to normal energy-wise at least. Other things about my body may never be normal after the wringer it has been through, but fitness is currently something I’m working on. I’ve been walking at least 2–5 miles pretty much every day. I love yoga and I want to add strength training soon. So in light of that new commitment and activity, I thought I’d bring back up to the front, an older blog post from 3 years ago B.C. (before cancer).

[Feb 19, 2013]9running

One thing I’ve noticed is that people have a real love/hate relationship with exercise. Do you? I know I love/hate exercise. I love the feeling after I exercise, that tingly feeling and the happy mood but I hate the doing of it. Well, I really only hate doing some kinds of exercise. But I’ll get to that more in a bit. First I want to remind you how good exercise is for you.

Exercise is vitally important to our overall health. You probably know that you must burn calories if you want to stay at a healthy weight. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle has majorly contributed to the obesity epidemic in America. But it’s not only about staying slim. Exercise keeps our muscles strong, our joints moving well, our heart strong and our lungs able to expand and contract fully. It also helps digestion, and skin health. In addition to the physical benefits, there are psychological ones as well. Research has shown that exercise is actually more effective than anti-depressant drugs for treating depression! Exercise releases feel-good hormones that lift our spirits. It wakes us up, energizes us and gets our metabolism revved for hours afterwards. So if exercise is so great, why do we hate it so much?

Well of course not everyone hates it. Even I don’t always hate it. But there does seem to be a drudgery around it that I hear from my clients (and myself). So I have determined 5 Pitfalls of Exercise with my tips on how to avoid them.

1. “I’ll do it later.”
Avoidance and procrastination are my biggest reasons to not exercise. I do this so often that I even avoided and procrastinated writing this article about exercise! My tip here is to do something you think is fun and then it won’t seem like drudgery. Do you like a certain sport? Tennis? Basketball? Volleyball? Join a team! I love team sports and this is definitely my favorite way to get exercise. The time flies while you’re having fun with your friends! Plus I’m kind of competitive so I like winning. 😉

2. “I don’t know what the best way is to exercise for weight loss.”
There is some controversy out there about how to exercise for best results. Studies have shown that if your goal is to lose weight, a combination of cardio and resistance training is the best way to go. I have also found from personal experience that the “burst method” is an awesome, quick, and effective way to burn fat. This is when you do an exercise to the maximum of your ability for a short time, like one minute, then rest and then do it again. An example would be to sprint, then walk, then sprint, then walk. Boot Camp classes at the gym are great for this and they have my other bit of advice which is cross training. Cross training is more interesting for your mind as well as for your body, since it uses different muscle groups.

3. “Exercise is boring.”
I couldn’t agree more. Some kinds of exercise I find extremely boring. Did you know boredom is the main reason people quit exercising after starting a new program? So my advice is to make it social. Get a buddy to meet you at the gym or take a class where you can make friends. Or as I said in #1, join a team so you’re interacting with people and watch how the time flies. This one is huge for me. I have found that I will almost always find something else to do if someone isn’t waiting for me to exercise with them.

4. “I don’t have the time.”
We’re all busy and struggle with adding another task to our day. But this is important so really what we need to determine is, when is the best time to exercise? The answer to this is hands down, to exercise first thing in the morning. It revs up your metabolism for the whole morning, wakes you up and energizes you for your most productive time. Plus, it gets it out of the way so you don’t have to keep thinking about when you can squeeze it in. I recommend buying yourself some cute exercise clothes (they don’t have to cost a lot–Target has a great selection) that you are excited to wear, and put them on first thing when waking up. Then you are ready to go straight to the gym after dropping your kid off at school, or ready to take the dog out for a quick run/walk when you first get up.

5. “I don’t know what or when to eat around exercising.”
You should not exercise on a full stomach because the body is working to digest that food and doesn’t have the energy to also work your muscles well. So you can either wait 45 minutes after eating or eat something light before you go workout. And since waiting 45 minutes kind of ruins that whole first thing in the morning in #4, I recommend the latter. I like to make a fruit or green smoothie before I exercise. Afterwards, it is important to eat protein because your body needs to rebuild the muscles after a workout. So that’s when you should eat your protein breakfast.

Do not skip breakfast afterwards or you will set yourself up for starvation mode an hour later and you’ll have no will power to say no to the donuts someone brought in to the office. And do not think that because you worked out, you deserve a drive through Starbucks on your way to work. That double caramel frappucino and cranberry scone have triple (quadruple?) the calories you just burned off. That’s going in the wrong direction! If rewards work for you as an incentive, reward yourself with a small treat for sticking to your exercise plan for an entire week.

Remember, everyone struggles with this. With our digital world, it is extremely easy to find that you’ve spent the entire day in a sitting position. Make sure that you get up and move your body. It will thank you buy adding years to your life and lifting your spirits!

I’d love to hear how you like to exercise or what is your main pitfall. Let me know in the comments below.

To your health,

Laren Watson
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach

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