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For most people, the reason they want to get in shape is that they want to lose weight so they can look good. But just losing weight may not equal getting in shape. In fact, losing weight for some people can actually put them in worse health than when they started. The number we see on the scale is often deceptive. It may be small but you may not have much muscle tone. It may be small but you may not be able to run for very long. It may be small but you may not be able to open your own jar of jelly. It’s important that we realize that getting in shape means giving your body all the tools and training that it needs to function optimally for whatever tasks you have set for it. So if you’re not just losing weight, and you’re not just doing it to “look good” what other reasons can you have for working out and eating healthy?
- You want to be strong – You’re tired of having to wait for your husband to get home to open that jar of spaghetti sauce. You don’t understand why you can’t move around your own suitcase. You nearly threw your back out taking the vacuum up the stairs. You’re tired of it and you want to increase your strength. While some of us may start out naturally stronger than others, all of us have the ability to increase our strength provided we put in the time and effort to train our muscles. Go to the gym and challenge yourself. Don’t worry ladies you won’t get bulky, the hormone estrogen will make certain of that. Combine weight training with some additional protein in your diet and before you know it you’ll be moving couches all by yourself.
- You want to have more endurance – Sometimes walking a few blocks is a struggle. You get tired really quickly when you do pretty much anything. You can’t keep up with your friends in that kickball league they made you sign up for. You’re tired of feeling like you’re the friend that’ll get eaten by the bear. If that’s the case it’s time you incorporate some heart elevating exercises into your routine. While functional weight training can certainly increase your heart rate (think more the way crossfitters lift), sometimes if you really want to increase your endurance you need to add some more traditional cardio. I recommend cycling, rowing, and running a couple of times a week or as warm-ups before your weight training sessions. Before you know it there won’t anything your ticker can’t keep up with.
- You want to relieve some stress – You’re stressed out. You got that big girl job and you’re convinced they’re trying to kill you. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. Sometimes you ball your hands up into fists and you want to punch someone. Look you can either workout or you can go on Prozac, the choice is yours. Take one read of the warnings and I’m sure you’ll make the right choice. Exercise of most any kind, weight training, HIIT, yoga, even dance has been shown to relieve stress and increase happiness. Thanks to endorphins and oxytocin which are released when we exercise. You can go from homicidal to happy in about 45 minutes.
- You want to get your doctor off your back – You went to the doctor and your blood pressure was a little high. Your cholesterol wasn’t quite where the doctor wants it to be. The doctor is pushing pills on you but you can’t even remember to eat breakfast in the morning. Plus you’ve heard those blood pressure meds can make you a little sluggish. Time to get in some aerobics in your life. Hop back on the cycle and train your pump. While it usually takes about 3 months to see some improvement your blood pressure, think of how great it’ll feel to prove that fancy white coat wrong. Plus combined with a healthy diet rich, in good fiber, fish, and veggies you’ll lower your cholesterol while you lower that pressure.
- Your biological clock is ticking – Okay ladies, let’s talk about it. You’ve been hearing your biological clock ticking. You know you’re gonna have to do this thing soon. Mom’s asking about grandkids. You’re feeling a pull in your uterus every time you see a baby. Your husband looks like a tasty snack conveniently every time you’re ovulating. But you haven’t stepped foot in the gym in years. Well, if you want to give your future baby the best shot possible you have to start getting in shape now. Sure, you could take up some physical activity once you become pregnant but you’ll be seriously limited in what you can do since your body won’t already be used to it. All mommas even hardcore fit mommas lose some strength and ability while pregnant. So the more you can do before you get pregnant the more you’ll be able to still do once you get pregnant. Exercising while pregnant has been shown to produce babies that are highly attentive and their neurodevelopment tends to be ahead of their non-pre-natal exercising peers. Don’t believe me, check out Nancy Anderson .
So there are lots of reasons to get fit but the best thing about each of them is that if you’re disciplined you’ll usually end up losing weight and getting some abs anyway. Unless your reason is reason #5 in which case you’ll have abs for about a month and then you’ll get knocked up. Honestly, as an over-preparer reason #5 has been something I’ve thought about a lot since I entered my 30s and started hearing my biological clock ticking like a time bomb. I got some blood test results last week looking over my overall health and thankfully the exercise and eating plan has been working. So I’m ready to take on whatever comes including the pitter patter of little feet.
Let me know in the comments your reasons for getting in shape and how you go about it. Remember to subscribe so you never miss a new blog post.