As a kid, I was in a lot of sports. Typically I participated in several at any given time during the year, and yet I was still a chubby kid. I know you’ve heard it before, but the truth is that exercise only helps so much when it comes to general health and weight. That being said, it’s still something I believe in as an important part of my weight loss journey (and ongoing maintenance) for several reasons.
First, when you lose weight, especially at a fairly rapid pace, it’s important to keep up the exercise so you don’t lose too much muscle mass along with the fat. Second, when the weight does come off, it definitely looks better when you have a layer of muscles showing underneath rather than skinnier body parts with loose skin. But what I’ve found this time around is the something much more important I think than either of those benefits – specifically, the mental and emotional benefits of exercise.
In a typical week, I try to get up in the early morning before work (like 5:30 am) and run for half an hour at least 3-5 times a week. Right now, I’m down on the 3 end because I’m struggling with some knee pain, but generally I figure if I can do that, I’m doing well. When I finish my morning workouts, I feel invigorated and powerful – like I can take on anything that comes my way because I conquered that 4 miles already. On the weekends, I also try to do a longer run – typically a 5k if I can make it without pain. Again, knowing that I can do that gives me a surge of confidence in myself and my ability to conquer obstacles. From there, I’m ready for any chores or fun that lie ahead.
I also have FitBit that I wear day and night, and I admit that seeing the steps pile up after a good solid run is very satisfying. There’s nothing more depressing that coming home at the end of the day with only half of my 10,000 step goal accomplished. So between knee pain and work schedule, I have to find other ways to sneak in more steps.
Here are some of my strategies for adding more steps in my day:
- Eat my lunch quickly at my desk (typically between 11:30 and 11:45) while I continue to work. Then go out for my lunch break and walk somewhere. Typically I walk to a nearby park and back if it’s pretty outside, or sometimes I drive to the mall and shop/walk there. The point is to stay on my feet for as much of that lunch hour as I can, and do something I enjoy.
- Park on a higher floor in my company parking garage and take the stairs
- Participate in conference calls in my office standing up & pacing
- Park at the far end of parking lots so I have to walk further into stores. If I have time, I’ll also walk into neighboring stores in the same shopping center, even if I don’t really need anything there, just to browse and get more time walking around
- Take evening walks after dinner. E.J. and I (and sometimes our dog Buddy) will walk in the neighborhood for 30-45 minutes on a nice evening. It’s nice together time, and also helps run down any excess energy (from both me and the puppy) to help us sleep better.
When I reach my daily step goals, it’s like there’s another metric that I can point to as a success on days when the scale isn’t showing it. If for some reason (time of the month, sickness, allergies, etc) I’m doing all the right things and I’m not seeing the progress I think I should on my body or the scale, I can still control my activity level, and as long as I have some positive progress each day, I’m more likely to stay on track.