Getting in shape may not be as hard as you think

December 31, 1997|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Getting in shape may not be as hard as you think

A college friend once said he liked to get in shape every other month. That brought a few chuckles from our group. Most of us could relate. It's easy to be overly ambitious with an exercise plan, starting out gung ho and then losing that momentum all too soon.

We want to walk before we crawl. We want the benefits without all the work.

When the approach is all-or-nothing, it's easy to fail.

So just what does "getting in shape" or "being in shape" mean?

To some, it's an hour workout six times a week. To others, it's a half hour three times a week.

Those who use the all-or-nothing approach may say, "I don't have a spare six hours, so I won't exercise at all."

Wouldn't it be better to think, "I don't have time to exercise every day this week, but I'll squeeze in 30 minutes Monday, 30 minutes on Wednesday and another 30 Saturday?"


The 30-minute image has helped me stay somewhat in shape as a working mom.

In college I would run for miles in the evening, take a shower and then make a salad or open a can of tuna at 8 p.m.

When we were first married, I'd swing by a health club, get in a workout and be home by 7.

Then my son came along, and I wanted to spend my nonworking moments with him. I did aerobics in the evening with him in my arms until he reached about 20 pounds. Now that he's an active toddler and often wants supper as soon as we walk through the door at night, evening workouts are a thing of the past.

The only thing that works now is workouts in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else is up in my household.

So I really empathize when people say they don't have time to exercise.

But it's January, resolution time, the month people think about exercise more so than any other time of the year. After all, who among us didn't have a truffle too many in the last two months? (Honest, honey, I didn't shrink your pants.)

So if your New Year's resolution had something to do with finally getting in shape, here are some things to consider:

* Set a time for exercise.

If you have a regularly scheduled time, you'll be more likely to stick with it. Figuring out when can be tough, especially for those with busy schedules. First, think about what you can cut out to fit exercise in. A survey once showed the favorite pastime in Washington County is watching television. OK, so do some crunches while you're watching "Seinfeld."

* Take it easy on yourself - physically and mentally.

If you're sore or tired and want to miss a workout, that's OK. Your body will need extra rest, especially if you haven't exercised in a while.

And if you miss a workout because you just don't feel like doing it, don't give up entirely. So what if you missed last week's workouts? This is a new week and you can start again today.

* Make it as convenient as it can be.

I'm not a morning person, but since early morning is the only time I can workout, I don't turn on the sound to my aerobics tapes. I'm not sure I could face a too-cheery voice at the crack of dawn. Decide what could make a similar difference in your exercise plan.

* Concentrate on the benefits.

You'll have more energy, look better, feel better, be healthier ....

* Talk to an expert.

Discuss your plan with your doctor to see if it's right for you. Ask him or her if you're being too ambitious.

* Make it for life.

Don't just work out until you can get into last year's jeans. Get in shape and stay in shape so you'll have the energy and enthusiasm to meet the other resolutions you make this year and in the years to come.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean is editor of Lifestyle.

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