I have a new friend. Well, not a new friend exactly. It’s more like an old friend that has come back into my life. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to call my friend ED. I will reveal ED’s real name shortly.
ED and I used to be VERY close in my teens and twenties. We rarely ever missed a day together. Sometimes, we spent time together twice a day. Often, I turned to ED to help me deal with stress. ED built me up, made me strong. Sadly, life happened and my friend and I drifted apart. Marriage, kids, education, stressful jobs, health problems, all these things kept us apart until I decided to stop making excuses and put more work into this precious friendship. Now that ED is back in my life, I feel like I have a renewed sense of strength and vitality. I realize I can’t live without ED.
ED wants to be your friend as well and ED won’t ask very much of the friendship except a very small fraction of your time each day, but will give you an AMAZING return on your investment in the friendship.
ED stands for “Exercise Daily.”
Yes, daily exercise is crucial to your good health.
Now, in the low carb movement, we put a HUGE emphasis on healthy diet over exercise. Why? Because no matter how much exercise you do, you CANNOT exercise off the effects of a bad diet. That is 100% true. But does that mean that if you have an extremely healthy, whole food, low carb lifestyle, that you get a free pass on exercise? A BIG NO! That is what I used to think, because I lost 80 lbs with NO exercise. However, LOSING weight and REACHING health goals is far different than MAINTAINING them. It will take lifelong effort to support your ongoing healthy lifestyle.
Exercise does something far more important to me personally. Besides just wanting to burn fat or build muscle, exercise puts me in a total health-building frame of mind. It keeps me on track. When I exercise, I feel like I don’t want to “undo” any of my hard work. So I eat better, at the right times, I sleep better, I manage stress better. All of my resolves for healthy living become stronger.
Of course, then there are the actual benefits of exercise itself. (Courtesy of Dr. Mark Hyman)
What health benefits can you expect from exercise?
- “It makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin so that you don’t need as much. Less insulin = less belly fat.
- It reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol and you become insulin resistant and store belly fat. Too much cortisol also makes you crave sugar and carbs and seek comfort food.
- If you do interval training (going fast, then slow), you can speed up your metabolism and burn more calories all day long, even while you sleep.
- Strength training builds muscle, and muscle burns seven times as many calories as fat.
- Exercise improves memory, learning and concentration.
- Vigorous exercise is a better anti-depressant than Prozac.
- Exercise protects your heart and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Exercise reduces inflammation (the cause of almost every disease of aging).
- Exercise boosts detoxification of environmental chemicals.
- Exercise balances hormones and reduces breast and other common cancers.
- Exercise improves sexual function.”
I’m sold, right?
Here’s the great part. In my teens and early twenties, I exercised for LOOONG periods of time just about every day, sometimes twice per day. I taught a 5:30 am aerobics class (for an hour) then returned to the gym in the evening for more exercise. And you know what, I still would never have considered myself strong back then. All that work. Now, with shorter, higher intensity intervals, and strength training, I can accomplish leaps and bounds more in probably 1/4 of the time.
You don’t HAVE to exercise to death. Give exercise just 1/2 hour per day of your time (that is just 2% of your day). And don’t say you CAN’T exercise. Unless you have absolutely no ability to move below the neck, then you CAN exercise. You CAN do SOMETHING. Just do what YOU can do. I’m no fitness expert. Things have changed so much since I was heavily involved in the fitness world, and we know so much more now. But keep a few things in mind:
- You need to get your heart rate up, preferably repeatedly in the same session,
- You need to sweat, preferably profusely, and
- You need to occasionally lift things that are heavy for you, in order to build and preserve muscles and bones.
Yes, everyone needs to do these things.
Let me help you with some of the thoughts that are going through your mind right now…
“I don’t have time.” Yes you do.
“I’m too tired.” No you’re not.
“I don’t feel like it.” Do it anyways.
“Exercise equipment is expensive.” No it is not.
“I need a gym membership.” No you don’t.
“It hurts when I do this.” Don’t do that.
“I don’t like exercise.” That’s because you only do it enough to hate it.
“I don’t know what to do.” Get off the couch, lol!
“I’m not coordinated.” It’s not a ballet. Just move 😉
“I don’t spend enough time with my kids.” Nothing better than exercising together.
“The weather is bad.” Exercise indoors.
“Exercise is boring.” So is breathing, but you still need to do it.
“I’ll start on Monday.” No you won’t.
“I’m too old.” There is no such thing.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten those things out of the way, time to make a plan. Think about what kind of exercise you’d like to do and when your going to do it. Watch some videos, find something that you enjoy. Read some fitness related information from reliable sources. Purchase some minimal equipment such as hand weights or resistance bands, maybe a mat if you need one. Find some folks that will motivate and support you.
I hope to never take my friendship with exercise for granted again.
Now, excuses and obstacles removed, get moving!