I find it helpful to keep the four components of fitness in mind when I'm trying to improve my exercise routine. Here's a link: Components of Fitness
(No, I'm not joining the Army. I do, however, like their basic description of these four components.)
Cardio. Strength and Endurance. Flexibility. Body Composition.
I always gravitate towards cardio. I love to take aerobics classes, jog, and dance. Each of those things is so enjoyable, and I definitely enjoy the post-exercise endorphin release.
Strength training is SO important. I certainly affirm that fact in an intellectual sense...I just haven't ever enjoyed the process as much. I don't enjoy developing strength as much as I enjoy a fun cardio experience. It's time for me to ignore my preferences and, as the Nike people say, JUST DO IT. I have to remind myself that increasing lean muscle mass is like building lots of little metabolism factories all over my body. More efficiency. More muscle = more calories burned even at a resting heart rate. (Y'all correct me if I'm wrong on any of my science here, okay? I'd like to know if I'm off base about any of this.)
Flexibility: This will be more and more important as I age. Might as well start having good habits in this area now.
Body composition: Seems to me that if I'm focusing on the first three components, this one should take care of itself.
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I realize that some people like to use BMI as an assessment tool, and some people don't like it at all. Personally, I like using for myself as a general gauge of fitness level. It works fine for me.
Right now, my BMI is 23.5
The range for "normal weight" is 18.5 - 24.9
(Here's a handy dandy BMI calculator: Calculate Your Body Mass Index)
23.5 is on the high end of the "normal weight" category.
My goal is to get to the low end of the normal weight category.
My 28 year old weight (refer to yesterday's post for more about that) translates into a 20.4 BMI.
The very lowest end of the normal weight category is 18.5.
I'd love to break the 20 mark & get down into the 19 zone. Wouldn't that be fun? YES, IT WOULD.
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Here are ten little things that I have on my mind as I start this process. This isn't exhaustive list. It's the first ten things that come to mind:
(1) A Personal Quirk: I always like to start a new habit or a new routine on a date that is good number combination. (Hunter thinks I'm crazy for this. But hey--we all have our own little idiosyncrasies, right??) I'm starting my bootcamp on 08-08. In my book, that's a good number. 08-08-16 would be even better, but I'm not going to wait that long--ha! I did actually consider waiting until 09-10-11, but even that was too long for me to wait.
(2) Just Say No to Liquid Calories: it makes no sense to consume empty calories. Why drink liquids that are full of calories? The human body really only NEEDS water. (Am I right on that? You can get calcium from other sources...) I'm sticking (almost entirely) to water at least for the first few weeks of my boot camp. I'm going to allow myself one cup of half-caff coffee each morning, cause I really like my morning coffee ritual.
(3) No Alcohol: (See #1 for reasoning.) I love a good Mojito. I've also grown fond of a nice Left Hand Milk Stout. (So good! What started as a half-hearted sip of my husband's beer grew into a real appreciation for this fine beverage. On top of the taste, I like the design of their packaging as well. Bonus points.) However, my enjoyment of such beverages will henceforth be suspended indefinitely. Dear Alcohol, I'm just not that into you. Love, Abbie
(4) Basic Nutritional Strategy: Eat high protein, low carb meals. Avoid refined sugars.
(5) Avoid Pre-Packaged Food: Choose food that acutally grew in the ground, on a tree, or on a vine.
(6) Track Progress: Keeping track of data & details is really helpful to me. It helps me stay motivated.
(7) Occasional Splurge: I do subscribe to the theory that if you NEVER allow yourself to let loose, you are going to be miserable. It's easy for me to avoid the fresh baked bread and butter if I know that once a month (or whatever timeframe I decide) I'll give myself a free pass. With the "occasional free pass" mentality, I can look at my tempting item and think "not now, but later" instead of "not now, not ever." I will probably save my free pass tickets for family/friend get togethers and vacations. I like the concept of feasting in the midst of special family times or fun celebrations. To me, the nature of an occasional "feasting" mentality is biblical, and I don't want to give it up. So if you notice me enjoying freshly baked bread (and butter) with a mojito on the side* in your company in the coming months, you can know that I am having a biblically inspired feast in honor of our fun time together.
*yuck...those don't go together...but you get the idea.
(8) Cardio: The backbone of my cardio routine will be using the treadmill in our basement. Easy. Convenient. No childcare needed. No travel required. No good weather required.
(9) Strength: This is where I really need to research a bit. I don't currently have a gym membership, nor do I want to pay the $$ for one if I can help it. If I can get away with it, I'd like to do strength training here at home. For the first couple of weeks, I'm going to focus on sit-ups and push-ups and other things I can easily do at home.
(10) Pull-ups: Major personal goal! I have never, ever been able to do a pull-up. Okay, maybe when I was seven years old I could do one. But in the last couple of decades, I've not been able to do a pull-up. I have noticed that on the Male Marine Corps Phys Fitness Test, pull-ups are a component of the testing. For the Female Marine Corps Phys Fitness Test, they do a timed "flexed-arm hang." So maybe I'm not the only woman in the world who has trouble with pull-ups. But still...wouldn't it be great if I could do just ONE pull-up? It might take me a looong time to reach that goal, so I'd better get to work. "...Here's the secret: You have to build up to them gradually."
Lastly, I think it's important for me to remember my reasons for wanting to make some changes. Some people focus on health and fitness for shallow and superficial reasons. Some people focus on health and fitness for good reasons. (Personal responsibility, Increased sense of happiness & well-being, etc.) There's a huge spectrum. Personally, I view my desire for improved health and fitness as a stewardship issue. I want to take care of my body. I believe each human body is a unique, complex, amazing, and miraculous creation. A car is complex, too, and I would never dream of pumping apple juice into the gas tank and expecting it to run well. (I know--that's a very simplistic comparison...) Most people would never consider "feeding" their car with the wrong thing, simply because their car is valuable to them...why would they give the car something that is obviously not good for it? Well, that's the way I view what I put in my body & how I care for my muscles, lungs, skeletal system, and cardiovascular system (etc.). My body is far more valuable than any car could ever be. (Granted, people can become too obsessed with fitness/nutrition...and then health can become a sort of idol. I definitely want to avoid skewing in either direction on this issue.)
I'd love to hear any thoughts you have. What do you do when it's time to crack down on health/fitness habits? How do you make changes that truly impact your lifestyle long term? Crash diets are not my thing. I want to make changes I can stick with.
Our friend Michelle left a comment yesterday (Hi, Michelle!) mentioning this website: My Fitness Pal
It looks fabulous. I'll definitely check it out.