Spring Tune Your Exercise Plan
Find your fitness path through trial and error.
By Ilene Raymond Rush
April 2011 — If you watch The Biggest Loser or any of the other weight loss reality shows, you might think that the only way to lose weight and stay in shape is through draconian eating routines and torturous exercise, and that hoisting the heaviest of weights and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is the name of the game. But I'm here to offer a contrary opinion — if you want to get into shape this spring, misery doesn't have to be part of the plan.
So what is the right way to get started? After many, many years of exercising, I have to say that there might not be one perfect way, but, much like dieting, you have to find the right way for your body. Much like figuring out what foods work to give you the maximum blood sugar bang for your buck, you need to test drive different exercise options and base your final choice not only on the latest fad (zumba, anyone?), but on what feels comfortable and right for your body, your current fitness level, and your age. This can take some trial and error, not only based on how you want to look, but how you want to feel.
Exercise and exercise goals shift over time. For years, I was a runner. I found it the perfect exercise. So perfect, that I refused to do anything else, or to admit that anything else might provide the same edge. Up at six in the morning, I'd pound through my six miles before work.
There were days that were wonders, when limber and toned, my legs would breeze through the workout, emerging energetic and pumped for the day. And there were the many more not so blissful workouts, when every foot strike on the pavement felt like a sledgehammer knocking into my body. Eventually, and I can't remember exactly when, the sledgehammer days outnumbered the rainbow days, and I moved over to swimming and biking, along with heavy Nautilus workouts that I loathed but knew were good for me.
That went on for few years. Then, one day, a few years back, a friend suggested I go with her to an exercise toning class at the Y. Unconvinced that a class could do the job of my mighty Nautilus workouts, I tried it out for her sake. But gradually I became addicted to a class I would have scoffed at in my running days, and moved to my current schedule of twice a week exercise classes, plus one hour, five times a week of moderate stationary bicycle riding. To be honest, it's the lightest exercise I've ever done, but it's also keeping me in the best shape of my life. My weight is fairly consistent over a three-pound range, and my sugars are low.
So what's the moral here? Sometimes, it takes trial and error to hit upon what exercise works for your body. As we age, we need to change our routines. And sometimes it's less — not more — that gets you where you want and need to go.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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