How do you start to MOVE?

Now that I’m an athlete (and I love writing that) I get comments all the time like “Sure you can do that – you’re in great shape. I could never do that.”  Well, you all know that just isn’t true. After I finish telling my story about going from being a 321 pound couch-potato to a 172 pound triathlete, I always say:  “Start where you are and go on from there.” So I’m posting a three part MOVE series so you can understand how to Move, Move More and Move More Intensely.

So. You’ve probably heard that exercise is good for you. <smile> But where do you START? Can you walk 10 minutes? Most people can, even if they think it is really slow. If this is scary, or you have any kind of pain, in particular any heart palpitations when you walk, check with your doctor – maybe have a stress test. I did when I first started. And though it was terrifying, I learned that even though I was in horrible shape, I could still walk for 10 minutes without having a heart attack. (Yes. Seriously. That’s what I was afraid would happen. Apparently this is a common fear with people who are heavy. And becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!)

So if you can walk 1o minutes, then do that every day for one entire week. Just put on your shoes, take a water bottle and start walking. After 5 minutes, turn around and head home. That’s it! See? You CAN do it!

Here’s the hard part: doing it every day. Building the habit. Changing the mindset that keeps you from moving your body. Search the “Struggle” posts on this blog to hear about my struggles for the last few years.

Have you made it a week? Awesome! Congratulations! Now, take a baby step to the next level: on the 8th day, begin to increase the time by 10%.  That means that during week 2 you will add in 1 minute for a total of 11 minutes a day.  During week 3 add another 1 minute for a total of 12 minutes a day. During week 4 add another minute for a total of 13 minutes a day. And guess what? Now you’ve done it for a month! Now it’s starting to be a habit!

Starting to see the pattern? Slow and steady. (If you were able to do more than 10 minutes your first day, look on this list to see where to start and how much to add each week until you get to 60 minutes.)

During week 5 add 1 minute for a total of 14 minutes a day.
During week 6 add 2 minutes for a total of 16 minutes a day.
During week 7 add 2 minutes for a total of 18 minutes a day.
During week 8 add 1 minute for a total of 19 minutes a day.
During week 9 add 2 minutes for a total of 21 minutes a day.
During week 10 add 3 minutes for a total of 24 minutes a day.
During week 11 add 2 minutes for a total of 26 minutes a day.
During week 12 add 3 minutes for a total of 29 minutes a day.
During week 13 add 2 minutes for a total of 31 minutes a day.
During week 14 add 4 minutes for a total of 35 minutes a day.
During week 15 add 3 minutes for a total of 38 minutes a day.
During week 16 add 4 minutes for a total of 42 minutes a day.
During week 17 add  4 minutes for a total of 46 minutes a day.
During week 18 add 5 minutes for a total of 51 minutes a day.
During week 19 add 5 minutes for a total of 56 minutes a day.

During week 20 you only have to add in 4 minutes and you will be walking for one hour a day! Think about that for a minute: going from 60 minutes a day from 10 minutes is a pretty impressive improvement and it took you 4 months (maybe less, depending on where you started).

Okay – I know, I know – FOUR MONTHS? It was always my impatience with the process that killed my best efforts in the past. It was only when I became gentle with myself and accepted that I had to move slowly but consistently that I started to make real progress. The experts appear to agree – going the Biggest Loser route and increasing your efforts from zero to a million is dangerous since we don’t have the same support teams. Adding in just 10% a week is steady and safe and gets you were you want to be.

Once you make it to 60 minutes a day – and seriously, whether it is during week 21 or takes 52 weeks – you need to celebrate this accomplishment!

This kind of gradual increase works for any exercise you choose – doesn’t have to be walking. For me it was walking, biking and swimming. I started by being able to walk, bike or swim for less than 20 minutes and then increased until I could finish a sprint triathlon!

When you are ready to crank it up another notch, check out How to MOVE More Intensely.

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