Two years ago, I made a commitment to exercise more and eat less.
Physical appearance was certainly part of it. I was not pleased with what I was seeing in family photos, and I realized that if I continued to gain a few pounds a year, my weight could easily reach an unhealthy level.
More than that, I needed to exercise for my mental and emotional health. I had changed jobs, so instead of working on campus, I was spending most every day at the desk in my home office. The long days began to take a toll, and the blues would often set in. I knew that could get to an unhealthy level as well.
A friend had lost several pounds tracking her diet and exercise on MyFitnessPal, and since we didn’t live close enough to exercise together, joining her on this social network/fitness app seemed like the next best thing.
It really worked!
Today, I’m about 20 pounds lighter, and I even began leading an exercise group at my church. Since we live in a rural area, there aren’t a lot of classes available, so my living room often substitutes for a gym. That’s okay though, because there I’ve found some great videos that get my heart rate up and put a smile on my face. Maybe some of these will motivate you to get more active, too!*
Leslie Sansone: Walk It Off In 30 Days
This one gets the top spot for a couple of reasons. First, there are two workouts and each is only 30 minutes. First, anyone can commit 30 minutes a day and walking is pretty easy for most of us. Second, these workouts work many different muscle groups and use light hand weights. For women, strength training makes a big difference in weight loss and overall fitness because it helps us build muscle mass that protects us from bone loss and increases our metabolism. The two programs on this DVD can be alternated daily for a total body weekly workout.
Strong Body, Ageless Body with Erin O'Brien
This one is more challenging, so it might not be the best one for those of you who are not already actively exercising. My husband teases me a lot about this one, since O’Brien frequently talks about the importance of building strong muscles in the hip area. However, she’s absolutely right. As we age, we are more at risk for falls and injuries. So the more flexible and agile we are, the more stable our steps. Just be prepared that if you do this full workout (approximately 45 minutes), you will feel it in your hips and thighs for a few days.
Leslie Sansone: Walk Away the Pounds - 5-Day Fit Walk
This is another great walking video. It includes five different workouts, all using different muscle groups. Leslie’s videos are great for group workouts because they rely on the same 4 basic moves. She changes things up a lot with add-on moves and different music, but once you are familiar with her basic program, you can comfortably do most of her workouts. And if you can’t do a move, she encourages you to just keep moving. Activity is what burns the calories anyway.
Element: Ballet Conditioning
In this ballet inspired workout, former dancer Elise Gulan leads you through moves that stretch and tone tight muscles. Ballet is challenging, but these exercises are great for balance and conditioning. Another plus for me was that I learned a lot of ballet terms as I worked out. Ronde de jambe, anyone?
Element: Yoga for Weight Loss
I like a lot of the Element workout series videos, and this is one of my favorites. If even the mention of yoga turns you off, you could turn off the sound, since she does use the terms of the discipline. However, I find that at many points in this workout, she may reference the strength within us, but I am lifting prayers to the real source of strength within us. My favorite thing about this workout is that when I’m done, it feels like every muscle has been worked--but in a good way. I feel quite relaxed when I’m done, despite the fact that I’ve spent the last 50 minutes exercising.
There are some great videos on YouTube that you can dance to also. REFIT® Revolution offers many workouts choreographed to contemporary Christian hits like Toby Mac’s “Feel It.” Mandisa's Original "Good Morning" Zumba Routine is a great one, too. Another option is to turn on your favorite CD and just walk. Once you’ve got a few basic moves in your exercise routine, you can do them to pretty much any music you enjoy.
One final tip that really helped me--never sit down to watch television! Seriously. Several years ago I bought an exercise step. When I began my weight loss program, I decided that instead of sitting in the recliner while watching my favorite TV shows, I would step. Trust me, stepping up and down for 50-60 minutes is a good way to work up a sweat. It might not seem like much, but on average, doing 30 minutes of moderate step aerobics could burn up to 200 calories--about the equivalent of a candy bar.
*This post is not intended to offer health advice. It’s simply a summary of what worked for me. Before beginning an exercise program, you should make sure you are healthy enough to exercise. Talk with your doctor, and be careful as you get moving.
I am a regular contributor to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and I also write and edit for several religious, business and educational outlets through my business, McWhorter Media and Marketing.
One of the greatest privileges of being a writer is the opportunity to share the stories of others with a larger audience. I love to do that!
Sharing my own stories is much more challenging, though no less important to making sense of the challenges of Faith and Family in everyday life.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions.
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