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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How do I stay in shape?

As a former long distance runner who used to compete at provincial level, I can offer my insight on staying in shape (although I am not a professional athlete). When it comes to being in shape, although there is no "quick fix", it does not mean that you have to spend at least 2 hours a day/7 days a week in the gym and eat next to nothing. If that were the case, then I would have given up on being in shape a long time ago ;)

Now, back when I ran competitively, I used to train 6 days a week and have one day of rest. My training routines consisted of tempo runs, plyometrics, sprints, weights, timed runs (which give you a sense of racing), and extra long runs. I followed this routine for about 4 years. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and saw no negative effects on my body. The reason for that was because: 1. I was younger and young people naturally have faster metabolisms and 2. I trained very hard, and thus used all the calories I consumed.

However, it's been a couple of years since I last raced and/or seriously competed in athletics. I currently watch what I eat and try to get at least 3 workouts per week. MY goal is to mostly maintain, though.

As of right now, my exercise routine consists of:
*The occasional 25 minute jog
*Going on the elliptical trainer for 45 min in the gym
*Using the X-Country Skiing Machine for anywhere between 30 min-1 hour at a time
*Weights, squats, and ab work

I try to vary what I do each day to avoid getting bored of exercise. Before, when I worked out with the track team, there was no chance of getting bored because I had company/exercise buddies and the coach gave us direction. Now, I have to direct/motivate myself, but I still reap the benefits of the valuable lessons that I learned from my coach.

Some things that I learned:
*The moment an exercise routine gets boring will be the moment that exercise will be forgotten/abandoned.
*If you have an opportunity, have an exercise buddy
*Don't get discouraged when you don't see the results of your workout routine within 1 week (that's too little time, no matter how you put it)
*Once you get past the "I hate exercise because it's painful" phase, you'll reach the "I love working out and I don't want to miss it" phase.
*The more work it takes for you to get into the condition that you are happy with, the more likely you are to continue with your exercise routine, because you wouldn't want to have your previous body back.
* When doing a Body Age Assessment, don't be discouraged when your body's age turns out to be older than your actual age. It is reversible!!!!
*Start out with shorter/lighter workouts and then build up. I'm still shocked by the number of people who go too hard, too fast too soon and end up with injuries.
*There is no need for extreme calorie cuts in order to maintain (or even lose weight), especially if you are exercising regularly.

In my next fitness article, I will talk about how to separate the Fad Diets from Plans that you can actually maintain.

Until then...

Let's see what photographer Tom Gore has to say about the craft in his interview.

Stay tuned,

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