Two Doses, Not One

 

Wonder why there are two doses of the COVID vaccine, separated by a few weeks? One shot in the arm would make it a lot easier, right?

It’s Hans Selye’s fault.

What happens if you give a mouse a toxic dose of a drug? That was the question posed by Hungarian endocrinologist Dr. Hans Selye in 1950, who discovered that laboratory animals exposed to various stressors, like drugs, cold, or surgery, and individuals with various chronic illnesses, like tuberculosis and cancer, display a common set of symptoms and pattern of responses. From his observation of the stress response pattern, Selye developed the General Adaptation Syndrome, which represents the chronologic development of the response to stressors when their actions are prolonged.

For the first time in the history of science, Selye was able to elucidate the process of adaptation. That’s big-time Science with a capital S. Selye discovered that giving a rodent a small dose (one-quarter) of an alarming/toxic stressor (e.g., drugs, cold, exercise) prior to a full, alarming dose of the same stressor protected the rodent from the alarming/toxic dose.

And that’s why there are two doses of the COVID vaccine.

It’s also one of the secrets to becoming a better runner. Introducing a small dose of a specific type of workout is beneficial for adaptation before introducing a larger dose. The first time you do a new workout in a new phase of training, do just a small amount of that workout before doing more.

You Look Like You’re Faster Than That

 

 

“You look like you’re faster than that.”

It was both a compliment and an insult at the same time. It was the summer of 1994, I was 21 years old, and living in Boston for an internship with the Boston Athletic Association—the event management team and host of the Boston Marathon.

Every Saturday that summer, I ran a 2.5-mile race around Fresh Pond in Cambridge. It cost 50 cents to race and they handed out popsicle sticks with finishing places written on it as each runner crossed the finish line. No medals, no T-shirts. The good old days.

At one of the races, Olympic bronze medalist Lynn Jennings showed up to run the race as a workout. Her coach, John Babington, was looking around the start line area for someone to pace Lynn in the race. He approached me while I was warming up. “What pace are you running today?” he asked. “About 5:30 pace,” I responded.

“You look like you’re faster than that,” he said, moving on to find someone else who could pace his prized athlete.

We ran the race, I ran 5:35 pace, and Lynn was ahead of me the entire time.

From a young age, I realized that it’s not what your muscles look like that matters; it’s what they can do. That is such an important concept to me that I have returned to it in many of my writings and have devoted much of my life to the study of muscle function. Even my master’s thesis a long time ago examined motor unit recruitment during eccentric contractions. (That was fun, because I got to electrically shock my subjects.)

It’s hard to not focus on what our muscles look like. After all, the human experience is physical. And the visual medium of social media amplifies the perceived importance of our physical appearance. Although I never was (and still am not) as fast of a runner as I wanted to be, I look the part, as Coach John Babington not so subtlety pointed out to me with his comment at Fresh Pond in Cambridge in the summer of 1994. His comment has stuck with me for 26 years.

But it’s not what your muscles look like that matters; it’s what they can do. Train them to do amazing things.

 

Current Pace vs. Goal Pace

 

I once coached a runner who ran a 19-minute 5K who told me she wanted to be trained like a 17:30 5K runner. So, I told her to run a 17:30 5K and then I’ll train her like a 17:30 5K runner.
It seems logical that if you want to run a race faster, you should practice by running at that faster pace. But, there are a few problems with this way of thinking. For starters, what determines goal pace? A runner’s race time goals are often arbitrary and not in agreement with what is realistic. I have coached many runners over the years who had unrealistic goals. If I had prescribed them workouts at their goal race paces, those workouts would have been way over their heads, and they would have run themselves into the ground trying to accomplish them.
 
Secondly, running at goal race pace represents a future level of fitness. Doing workouts now at that future fitness level means that you’re doing workouts faster than what you need to run to meet the desired purpose. For example, if that 19-minute 5K runner did her lactate threshold workouts based on a 17:30 5K, her workouts would no longer have been purely aerobic; they would have become anaerobic, which would have changed the desired purpose and the stress of the workouts.
 
Thirdly, running at goal race pace moves you away from targeting the specific physiological factors that dictate running performance. You’ll no longer be training at lactate threshold pace to train lactate threshold, or VO₂max pace to train VO₂max. It’s better to target physiological factors than to train at arbitrary paces. Run only as fast as you need to meet the purpose of the workout.
 
This doesn’t mean you should never train at goal pace, but do it sparingly, only for psychological reasons to give you confidence, and only when the goal is realistic for that season.

Confusion vs. Habituation

 

If you ever were taught how to play an instrument, did you learn how to play simple pieces before learning more complex pieces? Did your music teacher constantly change the piece and complexity of the music that you practiced, or did he or she have you practice the same piece of music until you mastered it?

After repeated or prolonged presentation of a specific stimulus, you become habituated to it, and your body decreases its response to that stimulus. Confusion, on the other hand, keeps your body guessing by constantly varying the stimuli. While “confusing” your body can be useful to avoid plateaus in fitness and performance, variation to cause confusion must be balanced with mastery of the skill. On one hand, you must vary your training often enough to adapt and improve fitness, while, on the other hand, you must repeat the same training a number of times to master the volume and intensity (or to master the skill of a specific type of workout) so you can progress with your training, having each workload build on what came before.

Habituation, a learning process that leads to mastery of a skill or workload, is a more effective training method than confusion, as long as the same stimulus is not repeated for too long that the physiological response begins to decrease. Give yourself enough time to absorb and adapt to the training before changing it. Forty miles per week should become a normal experience for your body before increasing to 50 miles per week. Change the stimulus just as habituation occurs so that you continue to increase your response. Most runners would benefit from changing the training stimulus every few weeks.

Tips for The Spectacled Runner

 


Picture found at Pixabay – License CC0

I’m lucky that I never have had to wear glasses. Being able to see where you’re going when you run is pretty important. If you wear glasses, that means having to run while wearing them, which can be a bit tricky and even inconvenient.

Treat Your Lenses

No one wants glasses to get foggy. Fogging is caused by the difference in temperature from the air around your glasses and the lenses themselves.

There are a variety of defogging products on the market. The best ones are usually those that have been designed to be used on the inside of motorcycle helmets or safety goggles.

If you don’t want to spend money on defogging products, one trick is to smear shampoo or cleaning fluid on the lenses to prevent them from fogging while you’re running. However, it’s probably best to try this out on an old or spare pair first. Luckily, if you shop online at sites like Eyeglasses.com, you can get new frames and lenses without having to pay much, which means you can afford to try this hack on your old pair without needing to worry.

Choose Appropriate Headgear

Another excellent way to stop problems with your glasses when running is to pick the right headgear to wear along with them. Baseball caps are incredibly useful, because they both shield your eyes from the glare of the sun and provide protection from rain on your lenses. You can even get some rain-resistant sports caps that will keep your head and your glasses dry.

If you tend to get hot, a cap could mean that the extra heat generated from your head fogs up your glasses. Some runners choose to use visors instead of caps so the crown of your head is uncovered to dissipate excess heat, but your eyes and glasses are protected from the rain and sun.

Consider Contacts

Instead of wearng glasses when you run, you can wear contact lenses. Of course, the prime concern with contacts is avoiding infection when you put them in and take them out, something you may not always have control over during a race. According to webmd.com, if you get an infection in your eye from wearing contacts, it can be hazardous to your eye health. To avoid this problem, you can use disposable contacts and throw them out after your race.

Laser Eye Surgery

Lastly, another option for the bespectacled runner to consider is laser eye surgery, during which a precision laser is used to reshape the cornea. Laser eye surgery can help rectify minor problems, such as short-sightedness, making running and other physical activities much more manageable.

This option is a somewhat more painful choice in the short term, both to your eyes and to your wallet. However, recovery time for laser eye surgery is quick. After a few days, you can expect your sight to be significantly better, and you won’t need to wear glasses when running… or at any other time.

 

 

Break Through Strength Training Plateaus

 


Source: Pexels (CC0 License)

Variation is an important concept in exercise and fitness. Plenty of research has demonstrated that exercise programs with variation produce better results than those with no variation. When you vary the duration, volume, and intensity of your training, your body never has a chance to become efficient; it is always being challenged, always being forced to adapt. The trick to variation is knowing how and when to use it, because variation must be balanced with mastery of the skill. On one hand, you must repeat the same workout a number of times to master the volume and intensity so you can move forward with your training program, while on the other hand, you must vary your workouts often enough to improve your fitness.  

You’d be surprised at how fast your muscle group will adapt to a particular exercise. The intensity of the exercise can help you to overcome plateaus, but if you vary your exercise as well then you will soon find that this is even more important. Studies have shown that doing 12 weeks of varied exercises is more effective at building muscle when compared to doing the same routine.

To vary your strength workouts, you can easily find workout equipment online that you can use in your own home. Use different equipment to change the order of exercises. Doing the same exercises in the same order every time can lead to stagnation.

What Workout Starts with T So I Can Post it on Tuesday?

 

 

Runners and coaches almost always plan training using a weekly structure, but that’s only because that’s the arbitrary format humans use to schedule their lives. Whether because of racing schedules, habits, or even the influence of other runners’ social media posts, runners and coaches often get caught up in patterns.

Just because there are 7 days in a week doesn’t mean you need to plan your training that way, repeating the same type of workout every 7 days. What a coincidence it would be if human biological adaptation occurred in a 7-day pattern, in sync with the weekly calendar. Don’t always think week-by-week; instead, plan the training according to how you feel and adapt to the work. Perhaps repeat each workout or long run every 8 or 9 days. Perhaps don’t even think about time and repeat a daily pattern of easy, medium, hard, rest, or easy, medium, easy, hard, rest. Just don’t let the calendar always dictate the training plan.

Like Taco Tuesday, sharing Track Tuesday or Tempo Thursday on Instagram has become a thing. But, social media (or the workout and day of the week starting with the same letter of the alphabet) shouldn’t influence your training decisions. It’s okay if you do a track workout on Monday this week and Friday next week; it’s the timing of the workouts that matter.

Keeping Fit With a Hobby

 


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Everyone knows that I run… a lot. It seems like that’s all I ever do. My brother often tells me to get a hobby.

Hobbies are a great way to boost your happiness levels. And if you combine a fun hobby with something that keeps you active, you will have the perfect combination for increasing happiness and fitness.

Here are a few suggestions that can bring you some happiness and some fun activities in your life.

Martial Arts

One of the most fun ways to see a considerable increase in your activity levels is to take a martial arts class. There is such a wide range and something for everyone. From Jiu Jitsu to kickboxing, they all have starter classes and taster classes. You can take your children or your best friend so that you have some support while you get started.

After a few sessions, you are likely to be hooked on the endorphins you get and, after a few months, you might find that you’re at a competition and belt level.

Biking

Biking holidays are increasing in popularity. Although you may not have have been on a bike for years, you can still really enjoy a long bike ride. Start by going for a leisurely ride along the water’s edge or go to a more adventurous mountain biking area. Biking is great to do as a family or to do alone. And you might be surprised at just how far you can bike in a short time.

Gardening

Gardening is a relatively low-key active hobby. Mapping out where your plants and veggies will go, moving walls, digging dirt, and pulling weeds all give you something to do, as well as building your fitness in a calming way. Gardeners engage in 30% more exercise than non-gardeners, so if there was ever a reason to get a packet of seeds out, that’s it.

Hiking

Almost all cities have maps of great hiking trails. You can also join hiking clubs or walking groups. There are also numerous online or mobile phone app challenges that can track your progress. At first, you might not want to go on very long hikes, instead building your stamina by taking longer walks regularly.

Hobbies that get you moving are more than just a good thing. They can help expand your social circles and skill sets. As your fitness increases, you might be surprised at just how far you can go.

The Habits of Successful Weight Losers

 

                

Adapted from Lose It Forever: The 6 Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry by Jason R. Karp, PhD

In a national television interview with Barbara Walters in 2014, Oprah Winfrey confessed that not being able to maintain her weight loss was her biggest regret. In that interview, Walters asked Winfrey to finish the sentence, “Before I leave this Earth, I will not be satisfied until I…”

“Until I make peace with the whole weight thing,” Oprah replied.

Losing weight is hard; keeping it off is even harder. What is unique about those who succeed? The answer is buried deep in the archives at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island: The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest database ever assembled on individuals successful at long-term maintenance of weight loss. Founded in 1994, the NWCR includes more than 10,000 individuals who complete annual questionnaires about their current weight, diet and exercise habits, and behavioral strategies for weight loss maintenance.

Habit #1: Live with Intention

 Living with intention eliminates the random approach to weight loss maintenance in favor of the systematic and methodical one that leads to results. The NWCR has shown that, when intention is behind weight loss maintenance, 21 percent of overweight people are successful weight losers.1  

The longer people keep their weight off, the fewer strategies they need to continue keeping weight off.2 In other words, weight maintenance gets easier. The longer your clients persist in their intention and behave in accord with that intention, the easier it is for that behavior to “stick” and turn into a habit.

What makes one individual persist at a specific behavior while another individual doesn’t? For starters, the persistent individual has a conscientious personality. In the most recent NWCR study published in 2020, conscientiousness was compared between successful weight losers from the NWCR and non-NWCR weight regainers.3 The successful weight losers were found to be more conscientious than the weight regainers and scored higher on measures of order, virtue, responsibility, and industriousness. The scientists suggest that being conscientious may help individuals maintain their weight loss by improving adherence to specific behaviors.

In a review of 56 studies that contained 58 health behaviors, researchers at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada and the University of Limburg in The Netherlands found that intention remained the most important predictor of health behavior, explaining 66 percent of the variance.4 In half of the reviewed studies, perceived behavioral control (believing that you have control over your behavior) significantly added to the prediction.

Habit #2: Control Yourself

Being a successful weight loser requires a lot of self-control, delaying gratification now (e.g., dessert) for the more desirable reward later (e.g., a slimmer waistline, better health, enhanced self-esteem, and happiness).

Compared to typical unsuccessful dieters, successful weight losers are better able to resist temptation, control themselves, and push back against the environment. They restrict certain foods,5 weigh themselves regularly,6,7 and use digital health technology.8

One of the key factors of self-control is disinhibition, which literally means not being inhibited. Some inhibition is good, because it prevents people from not giving into temptation and eating whatever and how much they want. High levels of disinhibition are bad, because it leads to risky behavior. Disinhibited eating is a failure to maintain control over eating. The opposite of disinhibited eating is dietary restraint. Several NWCR studies have found that increased disinhibition leads to regaining lost weight.9,10,11,12,13 Other studies have found strong relationships between a lack of self-control—impulsivity—and obesity.14,15,16

Habit #3: Control Calories

Successful weight losers consume a low-calorie diet of about 1,400 calories per day, with women consuming about 1,300 and men consuming about 1,700 calories per day. By comparison, the U.S. adult population consumes an average of 2,120 calories per day (women consume about 1,820 calories per day and men consume about 2,480 calories per day).17,18

Successful weight losers control calories several ways, including limiting how often they eat out at restaurants,19 rarely eating fast food,20 and limiting how many calories they drink.21 They are also more likely than normal-weight individuals to have plans to be extremely strict in maintaining their caloric intake, even during times of the year when it’s easy to consume calories, like during holidays.22

Habit #4: Eat a Low-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Diet       

Successful weight losers eat a low-fat, high-carb diet. NWCR members consume an average of 25 percent of their calories from fat, 55 percent from carbohydrate, and 20 percent from protein, with no difference in the macronutrient percentages between women and men.

In the early 2000s, when low-carb diets were becoming all the rage, the fat content of the NWCR members’ diet increased and the carbohydrate content of their diet decreased compared to earlier years. The percentage of NWCR members consuming a low-carbohydrate diet (less than 90 grams, which is less than 25 percent of daily calories) increased from 5.9 percent in 1995 to 7.6 percent in 2001 to 17.1 percent in 2003, although it still remains low for successful weight losers, despite the media’s attention on low-carbohydrate diets. Even with the increasing percentage of NWCR members consuming a low-carbohydrate diet, the fat content of the diet still remains far below the national average. Hardly anyone in the NWCR is consuming a very low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. The word “ketogenic” doesn’t even exist in any of the NWCR’s published studies.

Habit #5: Eat Breakfast     

Seventy-eight percent of NWCR members eat breakfast every day, while only four percent never eat breakfast.23 These successful weight losers lost an average of 71.3 pounds and maintained the NWCR-required minimum weight loss of 30 pounds for an average of six years. Eating breakfast every day is also common among other successful weight losers: The NWCR’s sister registry in Portugal (Portuguese Weight Control Registry) has found that daily breakfast is one of their members’ most common strategies.24

Skipping breakfast is associated with consuming more total daily calories.25 Skipping breakfast makes people hungry and therefore more likely to eat more later in the day to compensate. Breakfast skippers also tend to weigh more than breakfast eaters, and obese individuals are more likely to skip breakfast.

Eating breakfast is important for several reasons. When your clients get out of bed in the morning, their blood glucose is on the low side of normal. Their bodies need energy for the day’s activities. Since it has been many hours since their last meal, they need to break the fast, literally. The macronutrients they eat at breakfast will be used for their important jobs—carbohydrate will be used to replenish their blood glucose from their overnight fast to provide immediate fuel for their cells and to store muscle glycogen for later use; protein will be used to maintain the structural integrity of their cells and tissues and to transport nutrients in their blood; and fat will be used to provide energy, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and maintain their bodies’ temperature. Because your clients are in a metabolically needy state when they get out of bed, all those calories from carbohydrates, protein, and fat that they eat at breakfast will be used to fulfill their bodies’ metabolic demands. Skipping breakfast only serves to deny their bodies the fuel they need.

Habit #6: Exercise (a Lot) Every Day

Successful weight losers burn about 2,700 calories per day. Seventy-two percent burn more than 2,000 calories per week and 35 percent burn more than 3,000 calories per week.26,27

A consistent, high level of exercise is one of the most important predictors of whether or not someone will be able to keep the weight off.28 A major finding of the NWCR is that a large part of regaining weight after losing it is due to the inability to maintain exercise habits for the long term.29,30

While it may be easy or convenient to think that the reason why some people exercise and others don’t is because the ones who do have the time and resources, like access to a gym or personal trainer, or because they simply like to exercise, the NWCR has shown that what makes a successful weight loser exercise has little to do with these factors. Whether or not someone exercises comes down to his or her commitment and the creation of and persistence in the habit. See habit #1. Live with intention.

 

 

Lose It Forever: The 6 Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

[1] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[2] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., and Hill, J.O. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity Research, 8:438-444, 2000.

[3] Gold, J.M., Carr, L.J., Thomas, J.G., Burrus, J., O’Leary, K.C., Wing, R., and Bond, D.S. Conscientiousness in weight loss maintainers and regainers. Health Psychology, 2020.

[4] Godin, G. and Kok, G. The theory of planned behavior: a review of its applications to health-related behaviors. American Journal of Health Promotion, 11(2):87-98, 1996.

[5] Wing, R.R. and Phelan, S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82:222S-225S, 2005.

[6] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21: 323-341, 2001.

[7] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[8] Goldstein, C.M., Thomas, J.G., Wing, R.R., and Bond, D.S. Successful weight loss maintainers use health-tracking smartphone applications more than a nationally representative sample: comparison of the National Weight Control Registry to Pew Tracking for Health. Obesity Science and Practice, 3(2):117-126, 2017.

[9] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Lang, W. and Hill, J.O. What predicts weight regain among a group of successful weight losers? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:177-185, 1999.

[10] Niemeier, H.M., Phelan, S., Fava, J.L., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts weight regain following weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:2485-2494, 2007.

[11] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[12] Thomas, J.G., Bond, D.S., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(1):17-23, 2014.

[13] Lillis, J., Thomas, J.G., Niemeier, H., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts 5-year weight regain in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). Obesity Science and Practice, 2(1):83-87, 2016. 

[14] Chamberlain, S.R., Derbyshire, K.L., Leppink, E., and Grant, J.E. Obesity and dissociable forms of impulsivity in young adults. CNS Spectrums, 20(5):500-507, 2015.

[15] Fields, S.A., Sabet, M., and Reynolds, B. Dimensions of impulsive behavior in obese, overweight, and healthy-weight adolescents. Appetite, 70:60-66, 2013.

[16] Amlung, M., Petker, T., Jackson, J., Balodis, I., MacKillop, J. Steep discounting of delayed monetary and food rewards in obesity: a meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 46(11):2423-2434, 2016.

[17] Wright J.D., Wang, C.Y., Kennedy-Stephenson, J., Ervin, R.B. Dietary intake of ten key nutrients for public health, United States: 1999-2000. Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics, 334:1-4, 2003.

[18] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Energy intakes: percentages of energy from protein, carbohydrate, fat, and alcohol, by gender and age. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2015-2016, 2018.

[19] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[20] Thomas, J.G. and Wing, R.R. Maintenance of long-term weight loss. Medicine & Health Rhode Island, 92(2):56-57, 2009.

[21] Catenacci, V.A., Pan, Z., Thomas, J.G., Ogden, L.G., Roberts, S.A., Wyatt, H.R., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Low/no calorie sweetened beverage consumption in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity, 22(10):2244-2251, 2014.

[22] Phelan, S., Wing, R.R., Raynor, H.A., Dibello, J., Nedeau, K., and Peng, W. Holiday weight management by successful weight losers and normal weight individuals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(3):442-448, 2008.

[23] Wyatt, H.R., Grunwald, O.K., Mosca, C.L., Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity Research, 10:78-82, 2002.

[24] Santos, I., Vieira, P.N., Silva, M.N., Sardinha, L.B., and Teixeira, P.J. Weight control behaviors of highly successful weight loss maintainers: the Portuguese Weight Control Registry. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40(2):366-371, 2017.

[25] Farshchi, H.R., Taylor, M.A., and Macdonald, I.A. Deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(2):388-396, 2005.

[26] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[27] Catenacci, V.A., Odgen, L., Phelan, S., Thomas, J.G., Hill, J.O., Wing, R.R., and Wyatt, H. Dietary habits and weight maintenance success in high versus low exercisers in the National Weight Control Registry. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 11(8):1540-1548, 2014.

[28] Thomas, G., Bond, D.S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. The National Weight Control Registry: A study of “successful losers.” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 15(2):8-12, 2011.

[29] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Lang, W., and Hill, J.O. What predicts weight regain among a group of successful weight losers? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:177-185, 1999.

[30] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

Sticking to an Exercise Routine During a Pandemic

photo credit

The last few months have been crazy. We’ve been working from home, homeschooling our children, some of us have unfortunately lost our jobs, and many of us have been living in some form of lockdown, unable to see our loved ones or do the things that we enjoy. All that disruption can be unhealthy, even if you haven’t actually been ill.

When it comes to exercise, things have been tough. Most gyms have been closed. You may not have been able to work out in your usual locations, or even go running or cycling with usual exercise buddies. At some point, even those of us with the best of intentions have lost motivation. We’ve let standards slide, we’ve got out of our usual routines, and so our stamina and strength have suffered. You may have gained body fat, and your fitness levels might not be what they were.

Maintaining an exercise routine isn’t just about keeping your fitness levels up. Having a routine and burning off some negative energy can be a great way to boost your mental health and mood. It can give you something stable in this crazy world and, if you were to catch COVID-19, being fit and healthy may help lessen your symptoms. Here are some tips to help you stick to a routine.

Get into Flexible Habits

We don’t know what the coming months may bring. We don’t know if there will be more lockdowns or restrictions. We don’t know if we’ll always be able to go to the gym. So, while a routine is important, you need to be flexible. It’s ok if you lift at home using one of the best sit up benches, but it’s also ok to do it at the gym. Running outdoors is great, but treadmill running is good, too.

Stock Up on Supplies

photo credit

Make sure you’ve got everything that you need to work out at home or outdoors. You don’t need to spend a fortune on gym equipment. If that isn’t an option for you right now, you can still get a great workout with a pair of running shoes and your own body weight.

Stick to Workout Days

Schedule your workouts in your diary. Choose days that you will work out and write them down. Stick to these days, and even times, if you can. Don’t let yourself make excuses. Have a shorter workout if you need to, or even just go for a walk. On your workout days, make sure you do some exercise instead of letting yourself make an excuse.

Set Yourself Targets

Things might be far from normal right now, but setting exercise goals will still help you to stay motivated and focused. Keep them small and attainable, and make changes when you need to. Build up to your goals slowly, and don’t be disappointed if you aren’t as fit as you used to be. But, make sure there’s always something that you’re working toward.

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