There's a song by a bloke called Michael Franti that goes: "It's never too late to start the day over."
Well it's not too late to begin the year again, to start a resolution or a personal health revolution or pick up your healthy ways if they are starting to slip.
First up, let the bad times go. Don't beat yourself up for indulging in chocolate, cake, cookies, cheese and chips, or you've skipped a few too many exercise sessions. Today is a new day, so start afresh.
Let's talk about getting that bounce back in your step and keep it going.
Triathlete Idelle Hiestand says that last year she and her flatmate had a rule that when they got home from work, they couldn't sit down before going to the gym.
Yes, they could have a snack or a drink, but they had to stand up, because they knew if they sat down on the couch they wouldn't get up again.
Motivational speaker and swimmer John Shackleton says that people need to set one hour a day for exercise.
"If your health is the most important thing you have, then why aren't you looking after it?" he says in his book, Life Is For Living.
Shackleton is also big on goal setting so people have something to work towards.
He's not alone in that belief.
It's here that you can choose an event to train for. Whether it's a year out or just a few months away, make sure you leave enough time to be prepared.
If you're ready to run or walk 21km, the Nelson Shoe Clinic half and quarter marathon is coming up on May 6 and the Saint Clair Vineyard half marathon is on May 12.
For those needing more time, start training for the Taranaki Daily News half marathon at the start of October. But if you haven't done any leg work for a long time, don't head out for a long run - do it gradually.
An easy way to transition from walking to running is by wearing a watch with a second hand.
Start by walking briskly for five minutes then running for 60 seconds then walking for 90 seconds. Keep doing this until you have completed 20 minutes.
Do this three or four times a week, then increase your running time and decrease your walking time until you are running the whole way. Build up slowly to avoid injury and make sure you stretch after exercising.
A great programme for this is the "Couch to 5km" programme on the internet.
Once you have got yourself up and running, get yourself a running group or a running mate, preferably someone who is particularly bossy. Then arrange to meet this buddy on a street corner, so you'll be too scared to stand them up. That's what broadcaster Kerre Woodham wrote about in her book Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner.
Inspire yourself with great books. Woodham's is one of the best because it's written with humour and honesty. She writes about the pain of exercise and the elation of getting there.
Get Carter - The Hamish Carter Story is another inspiring read, along with On The Wings of Mercury - The Lorraine Moller Story and Running Hot, about Taranaki ultra-distance runner Lisa Tamati.
If books aren't your thing, go to an event. Watch a long-distance swimming race and clap the competitors as they come in. Cheer on triathletes or marathon runners digging it in during the tough times. Best of all, take yourself off to watch an ironman and witness human beings test themselves to the limit.
Get out a documentary or film about a sports star and start dreaming.
Then start doing.
If it's cycling you're into, find a biking buddy. Get a map of the best cycle routes in your area and make a time every week to go for a long slow ride for about two hours. The rest of the time, use your bike as transportation - yes, ditch the car! This is your challenge: Can you go without using the car for a day? How many days? Make it your mission; one that will lead to fitness, health, saving money and the planet.
Walking is just as good. But if you prefer to perambulate pick up your step, put a pack on your back to protect your posture and put on good footwear.
You can fit exercise into your day simply by using active transport to commute. If you find it boring, get an iPod or MP3 player and listen to music, the radio, audio books or podcasts while you walk. Swimming is another great exercise choice and can postpone the ageing process for decades, says Joel Stager, director of the university's Science of Swimming centre.
Research shows swimmers delayed the natural decline of aging until after they turned 70.
Stager says even recreational swimmers will benefit from regular workouts in the pool.
"The health and well-being benefits start with a minimal amount of swimming. If you want the fitness effect, you'll need to look at getting your heart rate up and boosting intensity," he claims.
Good hard exercise is important to ongoing good health for the whole of our lives, says Dr Harry S. Lodge in the book, Younger Next Year. "When you exercise fairly hard, you stress your muscles. You drain them of energy stores, and you actually injure them slightly. The stress of exercise is good, because it tears you down to build you back up a little stronger. You wear out little bits that need to be replaced after each use, requiring lots of fine tuning and minor repairs. This type of injury is called adaptive micro-trauma, and it's critical to your growth and health."
Yes, there is gain from a little pain.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Here are some other pep-talk tips:
1. Keep an exercise diary to plan your week of training. This will help you make time and also show you how far you've come.
2. If you aren't self-motivated and let's face it, heaps of us aren't, get an exercise buddy and go for it.
3. Even better, get yourself a coach or a personal trainer if you can afford one.
4. Have a goal. Choose an event to train for and steadily work towards it. This will keep you motivated. After you achieve it, celebrate!
5. Read inspirational books, someone's blog, watch inspirational DVDs or watch an event to get your own heart pumping. It's important to keep dreaming.
6. Make time every single day to exercise and make it your No 1 priority because your health is your No 1 priority. Nothing else is more important.
7. If your training is getting boring, try something else. For example if you are just running, go swimming or add in a bike ride or go surfing. Go tramping in a national park or do an exercise class at a gym. Variety stops boredom!
8. Don't allow yourself to make excuses. Allow yourself to have one rest day a week and the rest of the time, go for it. Say yes to exercise. If you're injured, find a different exercise to do.
9. Learn to love it. Instead of thinking of exercise as something you dread, change your mindset and start looking around you as you walk and bike. Enjoy the scenery, think about how wonderful the world is and how lucky you are. Imagine swimming as moving meditation.
10. Remember to fuel yourself well. Drink lots of water, eat lots of low-fat protein, fresh fruit and vegetables - and don't skimp. If you're training you need something to keep you going.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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