The Christmas period is over and, I’m sorry to say, I’ve put on 9lbs as a result of over eating and not doing any exercise for ten days. I weigh myself at the start of each month and on the 1st of January I came in at 245lbs. On a 6′ 2″ frame that translates as rather chubby.
I spoke with my new personal fitness trainer, Richard Cornell at Insentif fitness. I started exercising again on 1st January with a light 20 minute jog around the park, just to reacquaint myself with the feeling of exercise. In my experience getting started is almost literally 80% of the battle so you need to make that start as small in your mind as possible. I’ve compiled a variety of mantras to help me with this. The one I used on this occasion was ” nice and easy , one’ll do”. I find this helps me settle into the mindset of just chugging round the park and getting a little exercise under my belt.
By one I mean one unit of cardiovascular exercise which is about twenty minutes of light jogging or approximately 2 1/2 miles. I find using a modular system to quantify my cardiovascular and weights regime very helpful. It enables me to start off with a modest and achievable target, say one unit of cardiovascular and two units of weights , and have that clear in my mind. Then if I feel good it provides me with bite sized chunks I can add on to my original target if I feel like it. By this method I can accumulate a nice sized total of exercise , say an hour or more.
A unit of weights for me is one circuit of my routine which lasts about ten minutes. So one unit of cardiovascular is 20 minutes and two units of weights would also be 20 minutes. Easy. Put those two together and you’ve got 40 minutes of exercise. “It ain’t nothin’ but a thang” (another one of my mantras). Now imagine if you kept to this very easy and achievable target four or five days a week for a year. This thought is another thing I tell myself to keep going.
I’ll quickly describe what one of my weights units consists of. As I have said it lasts about 10 minutes and I do it all at home in a makeshift gym I have compiled inexpensively. First I do 25 shallow triceps dips on a frame I bought for £65 but you could use a sturdy chair. I find this is a good start to my weights session because it is the easiest element of my routine and it eases me nicely into the “weights zone”. Again making the start as small in the mind as possible.
I then do ten bicep curls with heavy weights and then do ten bicep curls with lighter weights immediately afterwards. I picked this tip up from a weightlifting website and it takes advantage of muscle fatigue. You lift the heavy weights and the when you switch to the second set you barely notice them because your arms think they’re still lifting the heavy weights. Because you’re lifting the lighter weights under “muscle fatigue” the efficacy is increased. The website I found this on suggested you could do it with three sets of weights , very heavy , moderate and light. Personally I only use two sets but I have confidence in this principle. Then I do ten press ups , easy. Then I do ten standing shoulder presses with the heavy weights and ten with the lighter immediately afterwards, again taking advantage of muscle fatigue. The final element is as many pull ups as I can muster on a door pull up frame I bought from the Internet for a mere £13. When I first got this I could barely do one rep now I’m upto 5. This is a good exercise and even these few repetitions can be felt on the triceps, pecs and shoulder area and even the stomach.
I’ve been exercising like this , somewhat patchily at times I must admit, for about two years and in that time I’ve lost 2 stone and have become quite fit , albeit still a little chubby. The best bit of advice I would give to someone who is just starting their exercise after years of inactivity is don’t be embarrassed to start small. Literally 5 minutes of jogging to the end of your street and back at a pace barely above walking just to get your body used to the sensation of exercise. 5 minutes can soon turn into 20 minutes over 3 or 4 weeks with small, barely noticeable increases.
I will expand on my regime in my next post.