Conditioning eases you into an exercise lifestyle

man working out listening iphone music

Question:

I’m overweight. I want to lose weight. I think it can solve some other health problems I have like ankle, foot and knee pain, or having trouble breathing when it gets too hot outside. What should I do to start? I don’t feel like running around the neighborhood because I am so not in shape to even start that!

Answer:

Simple, basic steps.

That’s what it takes to get on track towards a healthier lifestyle. The worst thing you could do is to just jump right into an aerobics, cardio or weight program and expect fast results. You end up overdoing it all, get exhausted, lose motivation—then you’re back to your old lifestyle because it was just “too hard.” To be honest, that’s exactly what happened to me in past attempts to lose weight.

But in my latest, more successful attempt, I had to go back to something I remember being taught at my Moanalua High School physical education classes with Mrs. Eileen Lee.

The body needs to ease into things. You can’t just shock it into change! If you do, its effects can be more dangerous than losing motivation. You could end up having worse problems on your hand—like pulled muscles, bone injuries, even a heart attack caused by too much stress in a single moment.

Conditioning is what you need to begin with. In a nutshell, conditioning is the act of getting your body ready for more serious physical activity. It’s prep work. It’s the warming up that’s necessary to get you in better shape to do some weight burning on a treadmill or bike, or get you through the sidewalks of Chicago for a morning jog.

Conditioning is also the means of increasing stamina and endurance. It takes a certain amount of energy to do certain physical activities. Your body needs to learn how to cultivate the energy it needs and how to efficiently use it during the activities.

Because weight loss is the goal here in this question, and we’re talking about the most basic of conditioning levels, I think you should consider the following activities as close to a daily basis as possible, just to start off with:

  • Walk around the block several times in a brisk fashion in the morning or late afternoon. Each time you do it, walk a little faster than the last time. The goal is to bring your heart-rate up gradually. After a couple of days of this, turn your brisk walk into a speed walking-jogging mix. Eventually, this will get your body used to regular jogging and running!
  • If you live in a walkup, mid-rise or high-rise, consider walking up and down the stairs several times. Each time you do it, increase the number of floors you walk and increase the speed. As you’re doing this, you want to bring your heart-rate up gradually.
  • Do a few sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks. Increase the number you do each day. You can YouTube the proper way to do each of these exercises, if you need visual help.
  • If you have the benefit of a treadmill, use it. Start with walking at a comfortable pace, then increase speed gradually. When your heart-rate goes up and you think you can push it a little more, increase the speed again. I also did this with incline changes. After a couple weeks, you heart will be every more ready for a full jog—and in time, for a full run!

Support and encouragement is necessary for any attempt to lose weight. That is why I think you should consider talking with other people who are wanting and working on the same goals.

One of my friends, writer and photographer David W. Quinn, has a Facebook support group called Quinntessential Health. Go ahead and join this non-judgmental, open and understanding group of friendly people like you and me. There are other groups out there, too. The point is, it’s easier knowing you’re not alone in this endeavor.

As always, I must remind everyone that we at Chicago Phoenix recommend strongly that you seek the advice of a medical professional—like your doctor—before beginning any exercise program, even if it’s just conditioning.

Gerald Farinas

About Gerald Farinas

An Edgewater Beach resident, Gerry is managing editor and interim editor-in-chief of Chicago Phoenix. He is concurrently an Evanston-based social services professional and media consultant. For more info: www.geraldfarinas.com.

There is one comment

  1. Dawn Marcotte

    Excellent advice. Too many people try to make serious, sweeping changes to their lives and then fail because they can’t stick with it. Studies have shown that small, slow changes over time will lead to an overall lifestyle change. Remember – you didn’t get into the shape you are now overnight – you aren’t going to reverse it overnight either.

    Focus on 1 or 2 small changes to make and stick with them for a week or 2 until they are habits, then add a couple more. It is also a good idea to track these changes so you can see progress over time.

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