I started my weight loss journey in May, 2018, and I soon understood the importance of healthy eating combined with a good exercise plan.
Initially I concentrated on exercising purely for losing weight, and I overdid it, because I wanted to see results fast. However, I now exercise to improve my stamina and overall health, while simultaneously focusing on maintaining a healthy weight.
Nowadays with most of us working desk jobs, or being stuck at home working/studying due to the pandemic, it's extremely vital to move our bodies. This will not only help keep the weight off, but it will help improve our mood as well as prevent depression/anxiety.
There are three important factors when it comes to creating new habits (in this case, exercise) :
1. Maintain consistency.
2. Create a plan.
3. Track your progress.
To be honest, there have been months when I've hardly exercised at all, especially during examinations, or when work got too hectic. Getting back on track after those months was difficult, and that is why consistency is so important.
In a previous post titled 'Want To Lose Weight? Start Small.', I had written about the importance of starting small, each time you want to introduce a new habit in your life. Whether it is just 10 mins of cardio or 50 squats, it's better than no exercise at all.
An exercise plan :
As they say, 'Never make decisions based on your emotions', and this applies to exercise as well. Till a month ago, I used to wake up each morning and decide on what exercise I would perform, based on how I felt that day. This often led to me skipping exercise completely (and regretting it the next day), or doing cardio instead of strength training (and messing up my progress). That is why it is very important to chalk out an exercise plan, as it helps one stay consistent.
Important tips for creating an exercise plan :
1. Exercise different muscle groups on different days.
2. Keep rest days in between.
3. Listen to your body. If you are too sore from the previous day's workout, take a break from exercising, in order to avoid injury.
4. Make a plan that keeps you excited and motivated.
5. Change your exercise plan every few months, or increase the duration/intensity.
1. My exercise plan in 2018 :
Day 1 : Lower Body + Stair-climbing
Day 2 : Upper Body + Stair-climbing
Day 3 : Abs + Stair-climbing
Day 4 : Lower Body + Stair-climbing
Day 5 : Upper Body + Stair-climbing
Day 6 : Abs + Stair-climbing
Day 7 : Rest
I followed the above vigorous routine for only 2 months, in July and August, 2018. Thereafter, I started doing either cardio or HIIT/circuit training each day, not both.
2. My current exercise plan :
Day 1 : 40 to 60 mins Cardio (Cycling/Walking)
Day 2 : Upper Body + a quick Lower Body HIIT
Day 3 : Abs (Standing Abs Workout)
Day 4 : Rest
When you get into the habit of exercising regularly, you will find it hard to live without it. However, make sure that you don't overdo it, as anything in excess (including exercise) is harmful.
Since 2018, I've been tracking my habits religiously. These habits include meditation, food journaling, reading, practicing the guitar/keyboard, etc.
All you need to do, is make a table on an excel sheet, with 30 or 31 rows for the number of days in a month, and one column for each habit. Print it out, and at the end of each day, as you sit to review your day, put a tick mark against the habits you stuck to, and put a cross against those you didn't stick to.
For my exercise tracking, I have 2 separate pages, where the rows are a little spaced out (15 rows a page), as I include a little more detail in each entry. The columns include 'Exercised or not', 'Type of exercise performed' and 'Details of exercise performed'.
As with all habits, habit tracking will feel boring and tedious at first, but it is extremely helpful in the long run, as it keeps one accountable and makes sticking to habits much more easy.
Proper form :
It is important to note that proper exercise form is crucial while performing any exercise. If you exercise using the wrong posture or stance, you may end up injuring yourself.
So, before performing any exercise, make sure you watch a few videos online, or read about that particular exercise and it's form. Remember, precaution is better than cure.
Exercise videos I follow :
There are thousands of exercise videos available for free online, with some YouTube channels uploading new ones each week, but I never get bored of sticking to a few videos I downloaded many years ago.
If you find any of the below-mentioned exercises easy, you could just increase the number of repetitions or use a heavier weight.
1. For Warming Up/Cooling Down :
It is very important to stretch properly before a workout as well as at the end of a workout, in order to avoid any injury.
The following video is in Punjabi/Hindi, but I love the energy with which he speaks (the exercises start at 2:00) :
2. For Upper Body :
I have a pair of 5 kg dumbbells, which I use while working out to the video below. After the circuit training, I also do 100 to 150 arm circles.
3. For Lower Body (HIIT) :
I love doing lower body exercises. When I'm pressed for time or when I'm too lazy to exercise, I do a HIIT workout, where I perform around 150 to 200 reps each, of any two of the following exercises :
- Skater hops
- Donkey kicks
- Fire hydrants
4. For Abs :
I can never do crunches and other ab exercises without my back hurting like crazy. So, I prefer doing a standing ab cardio workout (which works out the core as good as a normal ab workout) :
As we live in an age where we have a lot of information available at our fingertips for free, a fancy gym and a personal trainer are no longer a necessity for getting fit.
Armed with proper information/research, all you need is a healthy mindset which pushes you to challenge your body each day.
Be healthy, be fit, be happy! You can do this!
Thank you for reading! Stay blessed!