I swear I decide to do this every summer, but I’m impressed with myself because this is the first summer I’ve ever been totally serious about revamping my physique.
Before I began I college, I was weighing in at 120 lbs. Four years later (and half a head of grey hair later), I now weigh exactly 140 lbs. No, I’m not lying. And yes, I am so annoyed with myself. And yes, I also understand that a 20-pound weight gain isn’t the freshman fifteen, but to me, it’s still a lot and I can really feel the extra weight in places where it wasn’t really apparent at all. In January of this year (my final semester in college), I decided that it was really time I make a decision: do I want to live a healthier lifestyle or am I just going to let the snide comments about my weight fester in my soul? Naturally, I thought living a healthier lifestyle would be a little more fruitful, physically, mentally and emotionally and I resolved to shape up this summer!
So, I’ve gone back on a diet. I don’t “diet” in the traditional sense, although I have tried Weight Watchers and the Paleo diet! My problem with these kinds of programs is that they’re extremely difficult to maintain and when I was on them, although they worked, when I returned to college without the ability to make my own meals, go to a grocery store (I’m carless) and without healthier eating options, maintaining either of these two diets was slim to none. Instead, I try and make healthier choices and my diet centers itself around portion control.
The next part is the physical activity. This is the part that most people find taxing and it is a challenge. I’m not very athletic and I’m a very homey person, preferring to stay in my room with a good book and a nice up of tea. But diets rarely work without kicking your body to do something and be active! Thanks to the help of a few of these apps that I’ve found, I’m really beginning to enjoy running:
- C25K is an app that dictates when to run and when to walk and alternates you on a plan that allows for you to run a 5k (3 miles) in approximately ten weeks. It’s great for beginners because you’re not pushing yourself too hard, but the minute that you’re running for that first week feels like forever. Soon, your body falls into a rhythm and it’s fabulous!
- ASICS Running is an app that’s created and run by the ASICS sneaker company. ASICS are the only shoe that I run in. Seriously. I tried a pair of Nikes ONE TIME and absolutely was in so much pain that I decided never would I deviate from my favorite sneakers again. This app is neat in the sense that it lets your formulate a personalized running plan, makes you a calendar, tracks your progress and maps your routes!
- Pandora for those who really enjoy music on a run and the ability to shuffle radios is really great! Pandora also has some really great stations that are good for aerobic exercise. My personal favorite is the DanceCardio Radio Mix. But for those who prefer something of a different style…
- Rock My Run is an app that fuses music with a beat. It’s cool because it lets you choose mixes created by real DJs formulated specifically for running. You can specify the length of your run, how many beats per minute you want your mix to be (so how fast, slow) and also which mixes you’d like to save in your lists and which you don’t like. It tracks your steps and tells you how far you’ve gone in relation to real landmarks (like the Lincoln Tunnel)! Definitely nifty for someone who likes a little something different!
Finally, after all is said and done, you need a good warm-up and cooldown. I run twice a day, so in the mornings, I go slow and only do 2.5 miles, walking the first mile (quickly, as a warm up), running the second mile and then using the last half mile as a slow walk/cooldown. In the evenings, I do four miles, depending on my mood, I either just walk all of them at a wicked fast pace, or I mix in some light jogging to get my heart rate up.
In the end, the only true gauge of what you’re ready for is based upon how comfortable you feel. Some helpful tips:
- If you’re a little on the heavier side (like me), running initially isn’t the safest option because you could blow out your knees. Make sure to talk to your doctor and ensure your health and safety. I walked for a few weeks and lost a couple pounds before I felt comfortable enough to run. Your joints are important!
- Don’t forget to stretch! You don’t want to injure your muscles right away!
- If your town has a track or running path, use them! They’re great! I love them because I see other, more experienced runners and am able to modify my form and learn better technique.
- Work out smarter, not harder and don’t spend too much money – use what you have. There are so many things you can do just at home! YouTube channels like XHIT and other Fit channels have free videos showcasing different exercises that you can do right when you get back, as long as you have a little floor space!
- Work your core. Don’t forget to target those abs and obliques. They’re good for posture and maintaining proper alignment, which is good overall!
Don’t get discouraged if it’s difficult; trust me, I have to force myself out of bed every single day. But the end result is lovely and the more you do it, the easier it becomes!