With Christmas and the New Year upon us, that time of making resolutions, regretting that last eggnog and feasting to our hearts' content is now upon us. It is also the time where we make resolutions and many of us will begin a crusade trying to be more active in 2020.
A story I like to share with people is one of how I started moving all over again when I was obese. To many, it would seem like I woke up one day, decided to ride a bike or go for a jog and the magic simply happened. That could not be further from the truth.
When I decided to re-discover physical activity in my life, the first thing I did was to put on a pair of trainers and confidently told myself that today would have been the day it all changes. It took me nothing more than 100 meters on the track before I keeled over and threw up to make me realise that the road I was on would be far from easy but one that would require small and simple steps instead of taking the gigantic leap of faith.
After that fateful afternoon, I embarked on a simple mission every day, which was to move as much as I could, regardless how slow or how little it was. The concept of intensity had not registered with me and truly, it was not something that I was going to be too worried about. I was at a point where everything was quite intense the moment I started moving. After all, it was not easy to be carrying 150kg around all the time.
I started with really simple daily actions and the first I remember was to begin walking. Whether it was an additional bus stop or up the stairs as best as I could, I kept walking and took breaks whenever necessary. Eventually I learnt to enjoy walking and it became a pretty big part of my life and gave me time to reflect on the day's events.
As I progressed, I incorporated more activity but they were always things that were easy to do. I did not need any special equipment to do these exercises or activities (other than a pair of shoes) nor did I sign up for any gym memberships. The idea of keeping something sustainable is to discover the intrinsic rewards of how much better it makes you feel so that we keep re-investing in the repeated action and that is something that I firmly believe in. Here are some of the daily activities that I did when I first started getting back in shape :
- Taking walks
- Wall push-ups
- Squats or sitting on a chair and standing up
- Climbing the staircase
- Bike rides (on borrowed or rented bikes)
- Jumping jacks
- Jump rope (without the rope)
- More walks (with a backpack)
- Standing on one leg (sometimes with my eyes closed)
- Wall sit
The duration of these activities were not fixed and I simply did them whenever I could daily and listening to my body if I was too tired to continue. The idea for me was that I would up everyday and attempt to do what I could.
As part of the progression, I began to incorporate slightly more challenging exercises into my regime such as burpees, planks, push-ups etc but I always believe that it was the simple act of starting simple and easy that began to shift my habit cycle in a positive manner. It took me almost 36 months before I started swimming, cycling and running (a story which I will leave for another time).
So remember, when you're starting off on a new physical activity regime, always start easy and keep it simple so that you do not need to consistently tap off mental reserves to keep going. Find what works and keeps you moving and keep at it until you feel comfortable enough to attempt something more challenging.
I hope this piece of advice reaches out to all of you and sets you on the right foot in having a healthier and more active lifestyle.