Where to sweat it out
You need a workout environment where you feel comfortable and encouraged. Many people feel motivated by a busy gym; others prefer to sweat solo in the great outdoors. Working out at home is convenient—but watch out for distractions such as kids, chores and Netflix. When I began my fitness journey, I found I, personally, needed the extra push of being in a studio with trainers.
The best time for your workout
Finding time to exercise presents the biggest challenge for many people. You will have more success if you follow your body’s natural rhythm, rather than trying to work out at a certain time of day because you think it’s the correct time.
You know your body best, in terms of your peak energy level each day. The best time to exercise is when you reach that level. Whether that means morning, afternoon or evening, there is no right or wrong; listen to your body. Figure out your sweet spot for physical activity, and accommodate it by shaping other responsibilities around it.
You don’t have to work out every day to see results. If you are looking to lose weight, workouts should average four times per week. Sessions should be 45 minutes to one hour for someone trying to make a change to her body. Thirty to 40 minutes is an acceptable workout for someone looking to maintain current weight and body shape.
Find your groove
Identifying the right program for you can be a process of trial and error. If you really can’t stand a particular exercise, think of an alternative you could handle. For example, if you hate to run, try power walking. If you tend to feel a buildup of stress or tension, an aggressive exercise like boxing or kickboxing could give you the release you crave. Or, you might get a rush from pumping iron and choose a free-weights-and-resistance routine.
I tried many workouts, but boxing worked when nothing else did because it made me feel accomplished and powerful. Besides helping me lose weight and get in shape, boxing allowed me to release pent-up anger and other negative emotions that previously contributed to my weight gain.
Do you need the direction a personal trainer provides? A buddy to chat with? Exercising with others motivates many people to keep going. Organized classes are great if you need the push of a group environment and instructor, or if you want to incorporate dance into your routine.
If you are high-energy, I suggest cycling or boxing classes. If you usually have mid-level energy, I suggest strength training with some cardio. For people who prefer tranquility, yoga or Pilates classes fit the bill. Classes usually last about an hour, so they’re a good way to get your workout in and then continue your day.
You might have to try a bunch of different approaches before you find one that ignites your energy and gets you excited about working out. Whatever your choice, the most important aspect of finding your best fitness program is finding what clicks with your emotional needs.
Since losing 150 pounds through a boxing fitness program, Shanna Fried (shannafried.com) has been working as a life coach, and as a behavioral coach in a dual-diagnosis treatment facility. A fitness instructor and personal trainer, she is also a motivational speaker, presenting to high-school and middle-school students about her weight-loss journey.
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