Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NNM Day 8 :: Inactivity

Inactivity is bad, so let's talk about ways to get active without it seeming like a daunting task.

I recognize that activity levels have nothing to do with nutrients in food- but they're definitely related.

There is this cycle that people get stuck in. Thinking that the way to health is only through food is totally misguided. You need both activity and good nutrition. If you consistently choose to watch episodes of Vanderpump Rules (my guilty pleasure) instead of walking your dog, or going to the gym, or getting your step-count above 10,000 (obsessed with my FitBit)-- then you need to reassess your priorities. If you put off being active, then your inactivity becomes a habit... and the calories you eat aren't burned properly... and then they're stored. You know where calories go to be stored? You guessed it- fat. Fat is literally stored energy (translation = food we've eaten that we haven't been able to burn off).

Let's use abs as an example: You can go to the gym and workout until you pass out-- and have a strong core-- but you're not getting the chiseled look that you thought you would. Its because you're eating too much and more likely, not eating right. Those 6-pack abs ARE there... they're just hidden under a layer of.... "protection."

I have been in this cycle before, too. You can increase your muscles mass and strength by going to the gym, but you need to take a serious look at your energy/calorie sources if you want to see a real difference in your physique.

When professionals tell you to take baby steps, you should be listening. It sounds bass-ackwards (get it? ass-backwards! bah!) but it'll work. Trying to make huge, sweeping changes right from the start is setting you up for both short-term and long-term failure.

Imagine your baby/younger sibling/toddler cousin is just learning to walk... do you expect them to immediately move from crawling to running?! No. That's ridiculous. They start out with small, tentative steps; and then gradually learn how to take bigger, faster steps. Have you ever seen a mother walking hand-in-hand with her small child, and she has clearly forgotten that they are tiny and can't take the same wide strides she can? That is kinda like a lot of the advice that is thrown at people about nutrition and exercise. It's not your fault you can't keep up with mommy, she needs to slow it down and help you succeed by keeping pace with you, her adorable tiny-legged baby.

I'm all about the metaphors today!

Nutrition is your right foot. Activity is your left. You need both to walk. 
(1) Make tiny, sustainable nutrition changes. Cut out a vice (like chips, soda, ice cream, etc...). Pick ONE and say bye-bye for 21 days.
(2) Once you're comfortably into the 21-day vice fast, make a choice to spend 1 or 2 days walking through a park/your neighborhood/on a treadmill. Find somewhere you feel comfortable and just increase your walking.
(3) By now, your 21 days are up... and weird.... you don't even want your vice anymore. Huh. This time, make a trade. Cut out another vice and replace it with something healthy. I love hummus so I swapped veg for pretzels and crackers. Or strawberries for post-dinner cookies. Give it 21.
(4) Add another day to activity plan. Or if your comfortable, grab a couple free weights at Target and do a YouTube follow-along workout. Or try a machine or 2 at the gym.

By this point- if you're 6 weeks in- and taking small steps (and actually taking them seriously), I can almost guarantee that changes are visible. If you're above your ideal weight zone, changes with small tweaks will happen fairly quickly. I was still in my healthy-weight zone but I was right at the top, and it took me 6 weeks to notice.

Once you see those small, but visible results, your confidence is going to skyrocket! Keep with the small changes-- if you try to jump to big changes too quickly, you might scare your self off. But I have complete confidence that anyone can do it!

The way I did it was by cutting out 1 thing every 2 weeks. One cycle I would avoid soda, another ice cream, and another bready treats. I rotated through several of my vices and eventually came to the point where I didn't want them any more. I added smoothies for a nutritional boost, and then started swapping veggies for crackers/chips (not always-- I'm human-- and I cannot eat a sandwich without crunchy-chippy type items). I went from walking on the treadmill to adding the recumbent bike before heading to the treadmill. Eventually, I started doing my own circuit workout (did 1-3 machines for each part of my body every day: legs, back, abs, arms). Now I have dedicated days for legs, arms, core, and maybe throw in 1 circuit day for nostalgia's sake :)

Inactivity is going to be a huge barrier to success. You need to up your activity level if you want to make a difference in your physical self. Start with the "foot" (nutrition or activity) that you're more confident with. If you think you would rather start off with a change in activity before you take the 21-day vice-purge, then by all means- do that! The most important thing is keeping yourself dedicated to the desire to change. It isn't always going to be fun or easy, but it will get easier. There is a serious high attached to realizing that you can walk longer, lift higher, breathe better during exercise. It's weird, but the extra space in the pants pales in comparison to the pride taken in increased physical ability and the energy-boost that comes from getting the right bodily fuel!

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