Friday, March 6, 2009

Advice on Getting Started

So I emailed a friend from church who has a rather inspiring story (in my opinion). She IS a runner but wasn't always... She's now a size 0/2 but always saw herself as a 12... so I asked for tips. Here's what she had to say! Thanks V! Check out her blog for more from V.

"First, I want to say: You have control over your weight. But no one can make the decision to lose weight for you. You have to decide for yourself that you’re going to do it. And once you do that, you can and will lose weight. So, you've already gotten over the first and worst hurdle!

Some things that help with exercise:
• Having a workout partner. More than likely, there will be days that you don’t feel like exercising, but hopefully, on those days, your partner will encourage you to go ahead and go…and vice versa. It’s a good motivator on those tiring days.
• Find an exercise you enjoy…or at least don’t hate. If you can work some variety in there (taking classes, workout tapes, walking, biking, swimming, inside, outside etc) that will also help stave of boredom and the lack of motivation.
• Start slowly, especially with running. A mistake lots of people make is to try to push too hard and too far too early, then get injured and/or burned out and quit. I recommend starting by combining walking and jogging. It’s good to challenge yourself and increase speed and distance, but slowly! You shouldn’t add both going faster and going further in the same week. Otherwise, you will get runner’s knee…painful, and it will make you have to stop running temporarily.
• You need a good pair of shoes. Be willing to pay $100. It’s worth it.
• Warming up and cooling down is also a good way to avoid injury.
• And give yourself rest days. Absolutely required. You want to enjoy exercise, so you will keep doing it…not hate it and quit. Now, during the actual workout, it might be hard, but the accomplishment you feel at the end is worth it. Plus, endorphins from exercise relieve stress! (I can really testify…a good workout can totally improve your mood).

• For a specific beginner’s running plan, see the Runner’s World website:,7120,s6-380-381--9397-2-1X5-3,00.html It’s a great website for runners.

Some things that help with losing weight/eating better:
• You do not need to exercise to lose weight, and exercising alone will not cause you to lose weight. The only way is to burn more calories than you take in. That’s it. Burn more calories than you take in. Exercise does help you burn more calories though…but you have to be careful not to “reward” yourself for working out with lots of calories.
• So, what Casey and I did was count calories. We used a software program called Fitday to log all our food and exercise, aiming to burn 500 extra calories a day. It’s cheap, easy to use and you can download it. But Weight watchers, etc. probably does the same thing. We bought a digital kitchen scale, weighted, measured and entered our food. That way, weight loss really just comes down to the math. I can say there were definitely days that I would work out a few more minutes so I could eat a little more. I faithfully counted everything I ate for more than a year. Once you do it for a while, it's really quick to do.
• You should not drastically reduce your calories…that just cause your metabolism to slow down and prevent weight loss! 500 calories a day is plenty.
• How to cut those 500 calories? The easiest way is Volumetrics. There’s a book…which I didn’t read…but basically: eat the same amount of food, so you don’t get hungry. But the food that you do eat should be higher in water, fiber and protein to help you feel full. Oatmeal, whole grains—lots of fiber. Soup, fruit, vegetables—lots of water. Lean meat and dairy (in reasonable portions)—are high protein and help stave off hunger. (Google for more info!)
• Absolutely still eat your favorite things…but less often and in smaller portions. Like the kid’s meal of fast food instead of the combo. You get enough to satisfy the craving…then get a salad with light dressing to fill up. I recommend reading Mindless Eating (I checked it out from the library). It’s a short, interesting book with lots of tips to stop overeating and how to easily cut calories. Good stuff. For example: eat off small plates, so when you fill up your little plate, you feel like you get a lot more. It works. Casey and I barely use our dinner plates., does that answer your question?

So basically, start slow, have a partner, cut calories slowly and keep going! You shouldn't lose more that 1-2lbs a week to be healthy...some weeks more will come off, some none at all. But keep trying...every step towards being healthier has benefits.

Anyway...good for you! You've already made the decision, which is the hardest part. Now the rest is details! Let me know how it goes. :-)

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