Exercise is Beneficial on So Many Levels, But How Much is the Right Amount?
How much exercise do you *actually* need to get in shape?
Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?
And how much is too much?
Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?
Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.
Starting with the minimum.
What’s the Minimum Amount of Exercise?
Of course, you’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel.
So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you think you can do?” How does that sound as a starting point?
Pretty do-able, I’d say!
If you’re not training for a competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan.
It’s going to longer, I’m not gonna lie. But that time is going to pass anyway, so when the next season comes around wouldn’t you want to be proud of your improved strength and fitness?
Yes, I thought so!
How to Design Your Exercise Plan
Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).
Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for you, based on:
What is your long-term fitness goal?
What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)?
What is your current state of fitness?
But don’t stop there!
As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.
A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.
After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!
Don’t Forget Your Nutrition
While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.
Some of my favorite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:
Eat more veggies
Swap the soda for soda water with fruit
Cut your treats and sweets in half (and hide half) before indulging
Reduce the serving size of your main meals (try using a smaller plate)
Eat slower and savor it more by chewing each bite of food more thoroughly
Carry around healthy (unsweetened fiber-rich) snacks like nuts, fruit and berries
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:
Start from where you are, and don’t go overboard.
If you’re a beginner, that means 10 – 20 minutes every other day at an easy level.
Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.
Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.
Don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce your serving sizes (especially treats) and carry around healthy snacks.
Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.
Make an appointment to chat with me (your health coach) on how I can support you getting into shape
Fruits and Veggies: Nutrition-Packed, Anti-Inflammatory Rock Stars
Eating more fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your body, especially if you’re battling chronic inflammation (more on this coming in a future post!).
Chances are you’ve heard this before and you totally get it.
You know they’re chock full of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, phytonutritients, fiber, etc.); that kind of robust nutrition that includes antioxidant fighting goodness which goes to work on reducing the excess free radicals floating around in your system.
You also have a firm knowledge that people who eat more fruits and vegetables live longer, healthier lives. Not to mention protecting their bodies and minds from just about every chronic disease out there.
Yes, eating more vegetables can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and even lose some fat (as long as you don’t bread and fry them, or cover them with cream sauce 😉 ).
So while you totally get and WANT to eat more fruits and vegetables, you find your biggest roadblock is knowing ‘how’ to actually do it!
Believe me, as a health coach I’m ready and excited to share some amazing, creative and delicious ways to help you eat more fruits and veggies.
But, before we dive in, I think it’s important to hear and know…always start from where you are. If you’re not used to any fruits or veggies, try for just two per day. Build up from there. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet in one day. Wherever you’re at now, start there, then I challenge you to increase it by two per day.
Now, let’s dive into my helpful ideas on exactly HOW to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet!
Sneak Them into Other Dishes
OK, while this might seem a little underhanded, know that I’m allll about your health, so hear me out.
Some dishes are super-easy to enhance with a bit of strategically placed produce. What do you think of these ideas?
Add ½ apple, a small handful of spinach, or extra berries into your smoothie.
Dice or shred up an extra bit of carrot, broccoli, zucchini or pepper into your soup.
Love sandwiches? Why not add an extra slice of tomato, lettuce or cucumber to it?
How about chicken, tuna, or salmon salad? Dice up a stalk of celery and throw it in.
Love to bake? How about substituting ¼ cup of the sugar for ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce?
Used to having a small salad? Why not try a larger one?
Making tomato sauce? Add in some extra mushrooms or peppers.
Use Them to Enhance Your Meal
Steam some frozen corn and add a touch of olive oil and your favorite herb or spice.
Use veggies as your sandwich “bread” by making a lettuce wrap.
Don’t be afraid to spice them up! Try sautéing them for 10 minutes with a drizzle of oil and flavor them with pepper, garlic, ginger or cumin.
Opting for Them as Snacks
Why not throw a banana, apple or a couple of clementines into your lunch bag?
Ditch the chips and dip – Instead try some carrot, celery, broccoli, cucumber or cauliflower with a dip like hummus, guacamole, or even your favorite salad dressing?
Love sweetened yogurt? Buy plain, and immerse it with fresh or frozen berries.
Take two of these suggestions and try them tomorrow. Just add two more fruits and veggies to the number you’re at today. Two more.
And if you’re not an instant fan, well, try again. Research shows that sometimes it takes our taste buds several tries before actually beginning to like a new flavor. Try it; you might just find some new faves.
You can do it!
Let me know your favorite ideas in the comments below.