I have seen memes talking about fitness as something along the lines of “fitness” this donut in my mouth… And, well, that’s funny. I mean who doesn’t like donuts? Or nachos. Oh how I love nachos. But really, why do we think that eating food we like is mutually exclusive with being fit?
I’d like to think that in general I am now fit. I still eat nachos. And today I ate cookie dough for lunch. #forrealz
It’s taken me a whole year to really feel fit. Last June I started kickboxing which led to starting Tang Soo Do a month later. Let me just tell you that I just about died that first night I took a kickboxing class. Literally. ALMOST DIED. Two days of rehydration later I went back thinking I was nuts but I didn’t want to be the mom just sitting on the bench looking at my phone while the kids did fun stuff. Call it pride but I’m so glad I went back.
How do you measure fitness exactly? Good question!
Let me ask you this: Do you get winded running upstairs? Or dashing out to your car to grab something? Are you able to get out of the chair on the first try without difficulty? How about getting off the floor? How many REAL pushups can you do? Sit-ups? Can you squat down and stand back up without pushing or pulling yourself back up? Can you touch your toes? Can you stand on one leg? (Provided you have 2 of them of course)
These are real, everyday activities that we should all be able to do. In fact, getting up out of a chair is a test we do on the elderly to see how frail they are. The greater the number of tries, the more frail and at risk of falling a breaking a hip that person is. Also, not having diabetes or obvious heart or lung disease does not make you fit. You can probably also be a little bit overweight and still be fit too. So it’s not weight dependent. What I am talking about here is the ability of your heart, lungs and muscles to keep you upright and to move about without falling or becoming winded for all normal activities. It means having good range of motion and balance. This requires muscle tone and strength.
This is key: your diet does not make you fit. Only physical activity can make you fit. So here is my suggestion: First, if you have any medical conditions or have never been active, talk to your provider to make sure there is no reason not to work toward fitness. the answer is most likely no. Just about everyone except maybe high risk pregnancy women should and can start to get fit. Those with cardiac or pulmonary (heart or lung) issues may need a specialized program though. So ask first.
Next, get moving. If you were once fit but are no longer (like I was) and have no special issues you can pick any activity you enjoy to get started. Just get moving. If you’ve never been fit or you are obese or get winded walking around the block, start walking. It’s free and most of us can do it. Work your way up to walking for 30-60 consecutive (in a row) minutes a day. Now you are meeting the US recommendations.
Finally your goal is to surpass those. I think there are 4 essential moves that everyone should work on to get stronger and achieve better balance.
1. Pushups- to pass black belt testing I will need to do 50 pushups in a minute. I am definitely not here yet. Aim to be able to do 20 in a row. No time limit.
2. Sit-ups- helps build your core. My goal is also 50 in a minute. Shoot for as many as you can do and keep increasing them. Check Pinterest for “fancy pushups” and planks once you get beyond being able to do 10.
3. Squats-this is an essential movement that we should all be able to do through our entire life if we don’t want to end up on the floor with a broken hip. My knee squeaks when I do these wrong. Proper form is essential. Look up proper squat form on YouTube or ask a fitness instructor. You don’t want to hurt yourself. I am up to being able to do 100 in a row. I haven’t timed it.
4. Jumping Jacks- these not only help with cardiovascular fitness but also balance and coordination. You have to lift your hands over your head while jumping. Try to clap at the top. Also try not to fall over. Do as many as you can.
I like to do these as “AMRAP’s” or As Many As Possible resting for 1 minute in between. That’s it. You can do this anywhere, anytime, no special equipment needed and you can get it done in under 15 minutes most likely.
As you may know, I am not a fitness instructor, nor am I a physical therapist. I fall a lot because I am a klutz but I have learned to “fall with style” so to speak. Well, kind of. I am able to get up and keep going. So, this is just my advice. It’s what I have essentially done to get back in shape. It’s what we do in our martial arts and kickboxing classes. I know it works. It’s definitely more fun doing it with other people so if you can find a partner or a class, do so! If you have joint replacements or old injuries that limit range of motion, seek out a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine to help you.
Last, keep a journal so you can see your progress. It’s fun to look back after a couple of weeks or months to see how far you’ve come! Join MyFitnessPal to log your progress and share it with others too. It’s always nice to have a “team.” Now let’s go!
ps-don’t you love the look on my daughter’s face? LOL