8. Try one or two new activities to discover something you may not have known that you’d enjoy.

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Two years ago I saw a flyer for a paddle expo to be held on a lake near my home. It sounded fun so I went and tried out an array of flat water (not whitewater) kayaks. I had such a good time that I bought one and haven’t regretted it one bit. I named her Selma. Get it? Selma Kayak.

In the last two years Selma and I have been on 12-15 expeditions on nearby lakes. Not as much as I’d like, but still enough to provide much needed breaks from my typical workouts. And it gives me something else to look forward to as I dream about my summer activities in the cold (or lately – warm) of winter.

About five years ago, I decided that I was going to learn to mountain bike. For 12 weeks, I hauled my mountain bike (which had previously been used primarily on a college campus) to the trails. The first 2-3 weeks were rough, but soon I was surprising myself at the ease I rolled over difficult terrain.

If you’re anything like me, then doing the same old workout routine over and over becomes boring. That’s why I like to mix it up and try new things, in hopes I’ll find an activity that’ll give me another outlet to keep my exercise fresh.

Sometimes even slight variations to your typical routine can make a big difference. Last November I ran in my first cross country running race and had a blast. I’ve run many road races, but never ran cross country. I just ran my second last weekend and hope to do more.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. You’re bound to find something that you’ll love too. Within every sport, there seems to be microcosms of variation. I’m intimately familiar with cycling. There’s all sorts of cycling. For example, just within road cycling you can race, time trial, ride up moutainsides, ride across the country (see adventurecycling.com), ride across a state, go on weekly group rides, raise money for charity (mssociety.org), you can do ultra marathons (100-200 miles) brevets (an unsupported 100-300 miles), rondo’s (300 – 500 miles), weekend tours, vacation tours, self-supported tours or simply ride around the same 20 mile circuit 2-3 times a week. And what’s more, there are numerous events throughout spring, fall and summer in my region to keep me busy – and I don’t even live in an area where cycling is remotely close to being mainstream.

Remember, whenever you try anything new, don’t be turned off by snobby insiders. Every sport or activity has their share of these people. Just be patient and persistent and you’ll be an insider others are coming to for advice before you know it. And, best of all, you’ll have another physical activity in your toolkit to keep burning calories more than a mind-numbing daily ritual.


10 Ways to stick to your New Year’s Resolution

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Click here to read my initial post on the 10 ways that you can stick to your New Year’s Resolution. I’ve elaborated on 7 of the 10 tips thus far in subsequent posts so far. Soon to come are more on numbers 8 through 10.

Thanks for reading.

7. Re-prioritize your schedule so that exercise doesn’t get pushed off the list.

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A common mistake people make when starting an exercise program is simply not making it a priority. They often stick exercise into their free-time. But, as soon as they get busy guess what’s the first to drop from the lis? Yep – exercise. Then we all know what happens. It’s hard to get back into the exercise routine then we start thinking about starting again at some far off, non-committal date…perhaps next January.

I am often faced with this dilemma – how to squeeze in exercise during the busy times. It’s amazing how creative you can be when you really want to do something. That’s why it’s so important to make exercise a high, unbendable priority. I give up sleep before I give up my exercise.

Here are some tips to make it easier to work exercise into your busy schedule:
1. ALWAYS remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. Don’t give up a potential workout session because you won’t have enough time to do your full routine. Even a little exercise is better than no exercise. And, more important, it keeps you in your routine.
2. Plan your shopping trips better (like to the grocery store) so that you can reduce the frequency of those trips and free up more time for exercise.
3. Get to bed a half hour earlier and wake up earlier and squeeze in the workout before breakfast.
4. Use the gym at work over lunch or immediately before or after work. Or walk or run during lunch.
5. Commute to work on a bike. This is great if you live within 10 miles of work, because you can often make the trip quicker on a bike than by other modes of transportation. Use baby wipes to wipe the sweat off if you don’t have access to a shower.
6. Half-commute. One of my friends has a nice system. He drives to work with his bike. Then he’ll ride home that night and ride back the next morning, and then drive home. This works well if you work in an area where your car is safe overnight.
7. Join in with a group to exercise. I ride bikes with a group on most Saturday mornings throughout the year. We ride out to eat breakfast and then come back and usually burn more calories than we take in. This way I can combine socializing and exercising and the time on the bike flies by when others are with me.
8. Do you watch any TV shows? Do you own a TiVO or DVR? Do you read magazines? I’ve found that I can catch up on my TV watching and magazine reading while cranking off calories on my stationary recumbent exercycle.
9. Get your friends or family interested in your activities. I bought a tandem bicycle several years ago and converted half the time I use to spend alone on my bicycle to time I spent with my wife. When we ride, we both get good workouts and quality time together. I’m looking forward to attaching a trailer and then a trail-a-bike to the tandem for my son as he grows.
10. Play what-if for the things on your schedule to find extra time. What-if you left work early one or two days a week to get in a work-out? What-if you went for a jog during your kid’s soccer practice? What-if you gave up one club or organization meeting each month for a work-out? What-if I jog or ride my bike to the gym instead of driving?

Hopefully, these tips can get you started. If you have any of your own, please post a comment or e-mail me at smcmenemy@hotmail.com.

However helpful these tips are, it doesn’t take away from the fact that your attitude is the key to making exercise a priority. If you don’t think exercise is important it won’t be and it’ll fall off your schedule, perhaps permamently, the next time you’re in a time crunch.

Simple weight projection calculation

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Many people are of the notion that weight is some pre-determined factor over which they have no control. Fortunately, they’re wrong. More likely, people get settled into their eating and exercise habits and their weight is the outcome.

If the needle has been moving on you and you wonder where your “pre-determined” weight will fall-out, as an adult there’s a simple way to project it. Estimate the number of calories that you consume for an average day. Subtract the number of calories that you typically burn in exercise. Now, divide that number by 10. That’ll be your weight, in pounds, where you’ll likely end up unless you change your eating or exercise habits.

For example, let’s say Bill consumes 2,300 calories each day and does little exercise. He’ll likely settle in at around 230 pounds (2,300 / 10 = 230 pounds).

This calculation varies depending on age and gender, but it is a good, simple rule of thumb. I don’t recommend the calculation for pre-adults because more calories are needed for the growing bodies. Also, be careful not to overestimate how many calories that you burn in exercise. Many people do this and can’t figure out why they’re overweight.

Study shows that low calorie diet takes commitment

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I read an article on Yahoo! over the weekend about a study performed on monkeys proves that a low calorie diet takes continuous commitment to be successful. Did we need a study to tell us this.

I will say that I think the phrase “low calorie” is misleading. If I eat the right amount of calories to maintain my weight (which is considered normal), I wouldn’t consider that low calorie, I consider it “right calorie”.

6. Set a goal to compete in and complete an organized recreational

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Without goals and variety, exercise can become monotonous, which decreases the liklihood that you will continue with the program. That’s why it’s important to compete or participate in a few events each year. Participating in events can bend your life toward exercise and away from overeating in several ways.

First, having an event on the calendar keeps you honest. Knowing that you are going to run a 5k in May or ride a century (100 mile bike ride) in September, gives you that extra motivation to log your base mileage in the short, cold days of winter.

Second, if you are anything like me, then you’ll find it interesting to compete against yourself in these events. For example, I like to run a local 5k race on Thanksgiving Day each year. I keep track of times from year to year and it’s interesting to see how I’ve improved, held steady or lost ground from year to year.

Which brings me to third way competing in events helps burn the calories and prevents calories from entering your mouth. There’s more to a competition than just putting in the miles and showing up the morning of. Every year I gain more knowledge on how to prepare for such races – sometimes I learn through my own trial and error and sometimes I pick tips up from others. But, the important thing is that when I’m thinking about how to improve my times and prepare for an event, I’m not thinking about the dessert on the menu of a local restaurant, which is a double bonus for my waistline.

Finally, you’ll push yourself in an event like you’ll push yourself nowhere else. The energy and excitement of being around others helps pump the adrenaline and make you do things you didn’t think you were capable of doing. Participating in an event is great training. Of course, one of the things you learn early in your event career is to calm that rush so you don’t go bust too soon.

Now that I have you convinced to set a goal to participate, go find out what events are held in your area and set your sites on one or two for this spring and summer. Chances are there are dozens of events around your home every year. Find the local running and cycling club websites for calendars. Also, charities host many events. Ask your friends and co-workers for ideas.