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Health Matters: The reality of patience

“It is better to make many steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward” ~ Proverb

“This is the year I’m going to get in shape!” Sound familiar? Year after year I always see a definite upswing in attendance at the fitness center come January but by the end of February it becomes a veritable ghost town. Why does this continue to happen? There is no simple answer. One reason has to do with turning that first step into a giant leap.

Let’s face it – we aren’t typically patient people. We want results yesterday, if not sooner and we bring that attitude into the fitness centre with us. Forget that it took us years to put on those extra pounds, it needs to come off – now!! So we leap and inevitably fail. You probably don’t want to hear this, but real and lasting change takes time – think months instead of weeks. Generally, the longer it has been since you were regularly active, the slower off you should start.

If you’re heading back after an extended ‘vacation’ from being active, a general guideline is to start off with exercising two or three days a week. An awesome goal to shoot for is to do 15-20 minutes of aerobic exercise (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming etc.) each time, at an intensity where you can carry on a conversation. Each week thereafter, slowly increase the time you are exercising by 10 per cent a week until you reach 30-45 minutes. Want to do some strength training? Start with one or two days a week performing one round (called a ‘set’) of exercises that target your ‘big’ muscles (chest, back, abdominals, legs and buttocks). After that, try adding another set of the same exercises, eventually adding one more day. (Note: it is always a good idea to get guidance geared specifically to you and your situation from a knowledgeable and trusted practitioner such as a Kinesiologist.)

Listen to your body! It doesn’t matter how hard or how often you exercise if it means you end up running out of energy, getting injured or demotivated. Ask yourself “Can I keep this pace/schedule up three months, six months or a year from now?” If the answer is no, then you need to rethink your game plan.

Practice patience and know that the results will come.