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Exercise Game Planning for Dieters

If you make the wise decision of trying to get more exercise, you’ll need to figure out what you are able to do and how long you are able to do it. I’m not talking about what you could do in your glory days. I’m talking about what you can do right now. I’ll give you an example. When I was in college, I wasn’t very fat or heavy at all. I used to jog three miles a day religiously, until the day I got a job, and then I just didn’t seem to have the time for it anymore.

With a little patience and a lot of junk food, I grew to be over 60 pounds heavier than my former self. Then, out of the blue sky, I decided to take up jogging again. I bought a pair of cheap running shoes and headed for the local high school track. There was quite a variety of people walking, running, and playing soccer. I saw a few high school-aged people and even some women and men over 60 or 70 years old.

I thought, “This is great, I can look forward to 40 more years of jogging.” I remembered that I had liked to stretch before the three-mile-joy-ride, so I stretched out my thighs, calves, and any other leg muscles I could think of. I was set to go, and I couldn’t wait to get the “runner’s high” that I used to experience daily. The first ten steps were a little bit uncomfortable, and of course they would be. I hadn’t attempted to jog in seven years (and 60 pounds). “But I only need to run twelve laps,” I thought to myself. That would be three miles. I started out strong, but within the first half lap, I had slowed considerably and I was having trouble breathing. This isn’t how I remembered it. What was going on? I feared I might collapse right here on the track, and then the grandma runners would pass me up one by one and laugh.

I couldn’t let that happen. Since I could barely run, or breathe, I decided to start limping. It didn’t matter which leg I chose as long as it remained consistent. I slowly limped onto the grass in the center of the track and pretended to be assessing the damage to my leg. I was actually sucking wind quite violently. A few people stopped to ask if I was all right. All I could think to say was, “Damn, it’s the same muscle I pulled six months ago.” I’m glad they didn’t ask me which muscle. I then massaged my leg all over but concentrated most of my efforts on my left ankle. Within five minutes I was up and limping again, this time straight towards my car.

Even though I seemed to pull off the fake limping act, I still felt miserable. I hadn’t even run one lousy lap. I got in my car and raced away. I couldn’t go straight home until I had collected all of my painful thoughts and sorted them out. Instead, I headed to the one place that I felt most welcome.7-Eleven. I don’t remember what I feasted on that day, but I didn’t imagine that the clerk was laughing at me as I had imagined the other runners back at the track had been. In fact, no one really laughed at me that day, but they might have if I hadn’t been such a great actor. And knowing that they could have laughed at me, I ate like a king and queen combined, and I cleansed myself of the imagined laughter. I wanted a hug that day, but maybe what I really needed was therapy.

The story illustrates that you need to exercise at your current level of ability. If it has been five years since you’ve exercised, you cannot expect yourself to pick right up where you left off. Experiment a little and see what your body can actually do right now. Another gem I will peddle to you is the idea of starting small and building up to bigger routines as you become ready. If you decide that walking will be your favorite means of exercising, don’t try for ten miles on your first day. You can easily start by just walking around the block each day for a week. Next you can try expanding your walk to involve a few more blocks. The following week you’ll add even more blocks, and in six months or so, you just might be walking three or four miles. Make sure that you build up gradually, rather than biting off more than you can chew.


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