Thursday, May 10, 2012

How NOT to Exercise

This is my second round of doing the Shred. The first time was a flop and here's why:
I saw a friend of mine had started the Shred - Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout DVD. I was immediately inspired to join her for the support because I too wanted to get in shape and knew a partner would help keep me motivated.
I was still overweight at the time and she was a thin girl but that difference didn't mean anything to me at the time. I went to Walmart that day, bought the DVD and started working out the next day.

To help us connect while on our journey, I started a Facebook group called 30 Day Shred. We immediately had several people join us and it became an instant success!
We discussed whether to do the Shred every day. I knew that you are not supposed to start out exercising every day but it was the 30 Day Shred and everyone said "Of course, we'll do it every day". Like duh...
So we all did it every day. (Well most of us...)

I missed one day because we had guests in our home overnight and there was no opportunity that day. I surprised myself by sticking with it and lasted even past the 30 days. I did it for about 6 weeks until I went with my mom and sisters on vacation for a week. We tried to exercise while we were there but I lasted about 2 days before giving up exercising entirely.
After returning from that trip, I truly tried to get back into an exercise habit but that was in September and until this week I bet I have exercised maybe a handful of times. We tried walking every day - flop. I tried pulling out the Shred a time or two, yoga, crunches... nothing could get me back in gear. I had burnt out after 6 weeks straight of exercising EVERY day!

Two days ago, after most of my work required me to sit most of the day, I REALLY wanted to do something active. I pulled out the Shred and while doing it, I felt really inspired to seriously change my life from this point on. I have all kinds of ideas and I've been thinking for a while, about all the things that have defeated me time after time and formulating a plan of how NOT to start exercising again. You see, I have never had a good exercise habit that stuck, so I don't know for sure how to start the habit, but I have some major experience in how NOT to start exercising. So here is my advice:

DON'T think you can do everything skinny girls can do.
While doing the Shred (2 days ago) I did something for the first time that I was not able to do even during the 6 weeks of doing the Shred before. You know that stretch where you clasp your hands behind your back and lift your arms up to stretch out your shoulders? On the 30 Day Shred group, we discussed doing some of the exercises at one point. Some would say some of the moves were easy while some of us were feeling lame for not being able to do those things.
That stretch is something I never could do. I could maybe get my hands away from my back a few inches, but I was really straining to do that. I am just as out of shape now (actually more so when considering I had done it for 6 weeks) and I can do that stretch now. The difference? Several pounds. Now that I have lost more weight, I can do that stretch.
If you can't do something they're doing, it might be because it is physically impossible for you right now.

DON'T take exercise advice from people who weigh a lot less than you OR from people who are already exercising regularly.
Weight as well as fitness, really makes a difference on some of these things.
The girls on the group talked about pushups. I was doing the girly kind (on my knees). Some of them were not only doing several more than I could push out but they were doing them normal (on their feet)! Even after doing it for 6 weeks, I couldn't do very many. I can do more pushups now than I could then and I'm out of shape now! I think back and realize that the people who were doing more pushups and regular pushups were girls who were thin and the one who did regular ones was already exercising regularly before the Shred! Regardless of how in or out of shape you are, the amount of weight you are pushing up really makes a difference.

DON'T do all the reps.
If you push yourself to do the entire workout, that is an excellent way to burn yourself out, make yourself too sore and end up not exercising for weeks.
I went to the YMCA for a class once and I expected the girl teaching the class to tell us beginners how to do the modified form. Since she gave no directions for modifying her moves, I thought I was probably doing a beginners class and like a good girl, just followed directions. I could barely move the next day. The 4 steps in front of my house were agony to get up and down. It took me like a week to get over that - I hurt SO bad. I couldn't even think of exercising let alone going back to the Y for a while. When you are beginning, even if they say "You can do it", no you can't! Don't do it. Do as much as you can at first and don't push yourself. You can do more tomorrow... and the next day. Those videos/routines (even the beginner kind) are designed to keep you challenged for a few weeks. Even 3-4 days into it you will be able to do more than you could the first day.

DON'T hang in there.
Same as above, different wording. When they say "Hang in there, you can do it", don't. Take it easy at first. Even if your 'at first' is a week or two into it. I don't think I ever did all the reps without breaks during the first 30 days of the Shred.

DON'T buy stuff.
Every dollar you spend on workout gear, yoga mats, hand weights, programs, DVD's, water bottles, equipment, etc is one more dollar that is going to make you feel guilty when you don't use them.
If you're going to buy something, buy it at a reduced price or just buy 1 or 2 things that are inexpensive. Unless you can buy them at a yard sale, flea market, resale store or even a used sports place, my advice is to not buy it. Do you know someone who you could borrow from for a little while? I'm sure someone you know has bought a bunch of workout stuff they aren't using. :)
You are so motivated when you decide to spend all that money on the item that you are so sure will get you into shape, but it's really hard to stay motivated after that. If you are already motivated, and have already established the habit, it would make more sense to invest in the items that you already know you would use. There is no magic 'thing' that is going to make you fit.
When I started the Shred, I knew this piece of advice (from experience) and used canned food as my weights. I eventually bought 1 pound weights once I had stuck with the program a while. Which leads to another piece of advice that seems quite obvious to me but I have learned is not so obvious to some...

DON'T buy the big weights until you've been exercising a while and feel you need more of a challenge.
Those little weights might seem small in the store, but they won't feel so small after lifting them in ways you've never done before over and over again.

DON'T overdo it.
Going from completely out of shape to exercising every day is a terrible idea for so many reasons. Especially if you are fitness illiterate, meaning that you don't know what the muscles are called let alone the names of the moves. Grapevine... what?
Some of those moves are difficult to figure out at first. DON'T let how silly you feel or look keep you from trying it again the next time. It took me forever to figure out how to do that silly grapevine!

DON'T do it alone.
If you decide to start exercising and tell no one, if you give up the next day, who cares! Find SOMEONE, even if it's someone across the country (preferably someone who has similar fitness levels and weight as you) to do it with you. With as many types of social media as we have now, it shouldn't be too difficult to find someone (or someone who knows someone) to do it with you.

DON'T think you have to do something MAJOR!
Yoga IS a valid form of exercise. Yoga tones muscles as well as stretching them. When I did yoga for the first time, after about 3 days, I noticed was that I had more energy because I could move more easily. Stretching and becoming more flexible made doing everything more easy, resulting in feeling more energized and stronger. Surprising but true!
Thinking you have to do some set amount of exercise or you're not doing it right is a silly notion that most of us get in our heads that is likely to defeat you.

DON'T let soreness defeat you.
You are already not going to be super sore after following my advice on not doing all the reps at first, but when you first start out, you are going to be sore. The best way to get rid of the soreness is to work through it. Exercising those sore muscles again helps to work out the soreness.

DON'T let injuries or limitations defeat you.
I have had back problems for years. When I started the Shred, being out of shape and not knowing better, I put my back out the first day. I realized though that she didn't spend enough time warming us up and did a little warmup on that area of my back (between my shoulder blades) before starting the DVD.
A friend had knee problems and couldn't keep doing the Shred because some of the moves were too hard on the knees. Some of the exercises cause my hip to pop in a very uncomfortable way. I modify those moves and just do them as much as I can.
I used to feel like I wasn't doing it good enough and I almost thought I couldn't do it because of that. I nearly gave up. Only the group kept me going - I couldn't bare the shame of giving up. Now I realize that modifying the moves is a completely acceptable thing. The programs are designed for a general audience and the sheer fact that you are doing the program even if you can't do ALL of it, is absolutely good enough!

Last but not least...
DON'T give up.
Taking a tiny step in the right direction is always better than standing still.

And a quote...

"So I know that it’s not the easiest habit for most people, and most people’s experiences consist of starting and stopping and starting again. Which is fine — don’t beat yourself up about it. The important thing is starting again." - Zen habits

For motivation, check out this post:
How To Start Exercising


Nettie Beard said...

Very good and inspiring... I agree with setting your own pace too. I remember dying while doing the shred and then you'd get to the part where Jullian says something like "don't give up, remember, we're all in the same boat." I'd want to smack her every time! We're NOT in the same boat. I was about 75 lbs heavier than she was... she should know better than anyone that we're NOT in the same boat. She was barely breaking a sweat!!

aMY g said...

I know Nettie! I felt the same way - we were NOT in the same boat and smacking her would have made me feel better! haha

Grace said...

I hate Jillian, but the Shred is an amazing workout! I love that I can just kinda half do it and I'm still sweating, out of breath, and the muscles are burning! :)

Grace said...

The previous comment was posted before reading this, so now I have to leave another one. :)

I completely agree with all of this! Like I said before, if you even do the program halfway, you're getting a good workout. Work your way up. You don't have to exercise every day for it to be effective. Do what you can. Then stop. But don't underestimate yourself! That was my biggest problem. Well, and I was truly out of shape....

Someone said the other day:
Oh, darn. I forgot something across the room. Oh, well, I don't feel like getting it...

It was like, 50 steps! But it reminded me of the days I didn't feel like walking across the room. Even if you see no results, the results are there!! You will feel so much better! It was such a great reminder of just how out of shape I was and how much better shape I'm STILL in, even tho I haven't gotten back to regular exercise.

KayLeigh said...

I was sitting at work when an email popped up on my screen to go read this blog. and its exactly what i needed. i got super motivate a few months ago and joined a gym. i was exercising 2 or 3 hours a night and doing yoga every morning when i woke up... after two weeks, i got busy and now its so hard to find the time to work out and with bikini season coming up, i really need to! i think i burnt myself out but i also think my problem may be that i want results NOW!
I also did the 30 day shred for a week or two. i lost motivation with that as well.

aMY g said...

True Grace - doing it halfway is still doing something.

Kayleigh - I am so the same way with wanting results now! :)
I hope this helps you to start a habit in a way you can stick with!