January 18-24 is Healthy Weight Awareness Week!

Categories: Physically Active

I am rolling my eyes while I type this title … after all, who isn’t “aware” of his or her weight? The real question is: How do we find and maintain the healthiest weight for our individual body types, heights and genders? (And before we answer, check out these famous paintings recreated to represent fashion model proportions.)

All the different ideas about weight control make me want a snack. One thing I’ve come to rely on is simply how I feel. What is my energy level? Am I able to do the things I want to do?

Healthy eating and physical activity – or exercise – are hands-down the best and healthiest way to control our weight. For diets, I subscribe as best I can to Michael Pollan’s manifest from, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  In other words, I have never been able to stick to a prescriptive diet. When it comes to physical activity, I’m partial to simply walking more but every once in a while I like to mix it up.

Ways to Jump-start Your Exercise Routine

There are many ways to jump-start your exercise routine — and the internet offers many opportunities for those of us with gym-phobia.

This month I’m trying out Self Magazine’s “Tone It Up Challenge”… my goals in participating in the challenge (which you can join for free here) are to rebuild my overall strength and to be strong enough to enjoy telemark skiing,  my physical activity of choice in the winter.

So far, I’ve enjoyed the workouts and the online support and look forward to completing the whole challenge. They are easy to do at home if you have a few hand weights and 20 minutes to sneak in before breakfast.

There are other ways you can get the motivation to begin and continue exercising — whether it is to tone up or help you lose weight. Here are some online sources:

  • My Fitness Pal A free ongoing healthy behavior tracker to use at anytime. Many people are addicted to this tracker which has apps for your smart phone and many groups you can join to provide additional motivation. You can also add friends, so you can help motivate each other!
  • Fit Bit A high-tech pedometer and healthy eating/activity tracker.
  • SarahFit: Many fun videos on Youtube ranging from advice to simple workouts.
  • Tara Stiles: One of my personal favorites – find yoga routines and simple recipes on her Youtube channel.
  • Tracy Anderson #GYBG (Got Your Back Girl) Challenge (33-day friendship fitness challenge, $90 for 33 days) A little pricey- but I just love the #GYBG hashtag!
  • Let’s Move-Family Activities: An online tracker for the whole family.
  • USDA-Indoor Physical Activity Resources: More printables and ideas to keep active for all ages and abilities.
  • Physical Activity for Everyone (videos): The CDC brings us safe and effective exercises for strength training at home or at the gym.

How to Make Exercise a Lifelong Habit

Think of this month, January, as your kick-start month. Whatever you do now can be the start of a lifelong habit that will help create a healthier you. As the month comes to a close, and the challenges are over, keep these tips in mind:

  • Think 10,000 steps per day. It is recommended that people take 10,000 steps per day — that’s walking about five miles — for optimal health. How can you squeeze in that many steps per day? It’s easy if you park your car farther away from your destination, walk your dog, take a midday walk with a friend, do yard work or housework, or even jog in place while brushing your teeth!
  • Exercise even if you don’t feel like it. Make it a priority. Remember, you can always find excuses not to go to the gym, or take a walk, or do an online challenge. In your mind, exercise should be like eating or sleeping … make it non-negotiable!
  • Log your progress. Either through an online program (such as Fitness Pal) or in a journal. Take body measurements and weight. Also, log in how you feel as you progress on your fitness journey … you may find you sleep better, have more energy or can concentrate better at work. Write it down!
  • Give yourself a reward. Set goals for yourself. Did you walk 10,000 steps every day for a week? How about going for a massage or facial, or allowing yourself to sleep in on a Sunday morning? You deserve it!

Creating a daily healthy exercise routine for yourself does not need to be grueling, but do make it challenging! And track your progress. You will be amazed how you will feel (and look!) in just 3-6 months time. You will be very aware of your healthy weight progress … and will be proud of it!

Photo Credit: Titian, Danae with Eros, 1544. Be sure to see the article on Take Part to  see how these famous paintings were photo-shopped to represent contemporary body ideals.