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Plus-Size Fitness Excerpt from Don't Weight
Three Reasons It Is Tough to Exercise
Anyone of any fitness level at any size
How can I say such a thing? I say this because I know it is true. My life has taught me. In 1991 I was in the final negotiations for the opening of my fitness studio called "Work It Out, Inc." On my way to a meeting, I was in a car accident where I suffered a head injury. The medication they gave me to control the resulting epileptic seizures made me sleep twenty to twenty-two hours a day! (I have come to think of this as my larval phase.) I was only awake a few hours each day and I was coping with a major medical problem. I really got a chance to experience the reasons that get in the way of starting or continuing a fitness program.
Reason #1: "I have no time."
In the few hours I was awake, I did my workout first. After that, I talked and laughed with my kids while we did household tasks and ate dinner together. Then I took my medication and slept. My training as a psychotherapist and personal fitness trainer told me I really needed to take care of myself if I was going to recover. I was at risk for depression, muscle atrophy, and spinal problems. The only way I could be sure to fit my workout into my day was to do it first thing. (When I think about my clients, the ones who workout early in the day are twice as likely to maintain their fitness program than those who plan to workout at the end of a long stressful day.) Later on when I was feeling well enough, I found that making the commitment to attend a class, preferably with a friend, also helped me to fit the workout into my day. Because my friend was expecting me, I was more likely show up. It was like an appointment. I worked my schedule around my workout class.
Reason #2: "It has been so long since I exercised. I'm so out of shape, I would not know where to begin."
After my accident, I lost my muscle tone and stamina. I decided to start a walking program right in my neighborhood. When I walked just to the top of my inclined driveway, I was exhausted! I had to go back to some basic principles of fitness in order to progress from completely sedentary to fit.
Reason #3: "I have no energy. My work, the house, my family, and other obligations take all my energy."
When I was on the anti-seizure medications, I had no energy at all. This experience gave me great empathy for my counseling and fitness clients who felt overwhelmed and tired. I was glad for the empathy and understanding, but I still needed more energy to live my life and get well. That is when my logical mind took over. If I have low energy, will I get more energy by being lethargic? I don't think so. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, will I feel better by just sitting around worrying? No. I decided to begin a walking program even though I had little energy. That was one small thing I could do each day that would increase my energy and help me feel in control of something. It worked. I walked for only a few minutes at first. I was persistent. In a few months I was walking a mile. That was enough to release endorphins and other neurotransmitters that brightened my mood. My physical energy increased. I still was only awake a few hours, but I was more hopeful and energetic when I was awake.
Exercising regularly, at the proper intensity for your fitness level, gives you more energy for your work, your house, your family, and your other obligations!
I used these very same fitness recommendations in my own life when I was rehabilitating. Getting fit was like a lifeline. My workout was one of the few things I could control. I would not be the victim of my accident. I was the person in charge of my rehabilitation. I started thinking of a way to get back to work. I could work with my psychotherapy clients by phone and I could work with my fitness clients using video! If I had a seizure, I could hang up the phone or turn off the camera and come back later.
I believe that anyone of any fitness level at any size can become more fit. I have seen it happen in my life and in my clients' lives. Over the last eighteen years I have seen clients overcome many obstacles to fitness and happiness. My clients and my own rehabilitation have given me hope. Hope is contagious!
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