Dr. Sheela Nambiar tells you how to start and stick with your workout schedule

This is for those of you who are not yet exercising. Who think perhaps that you don’t need to, or can’t. This is also for those who tend to take long breaks in your fitness routine ever so often on some vague pretext or the other, those who tend to keep ‘falling off the wagon’ so to speak.

I’ve heard all the excuses: I don’t have time; I don’t need to, (I am slim, I don’t have any medical disorders and so on); I have tried in the past but have always failed, so why try again?; I hate exercise, I can't find anything I like to do.

Well, here is the news flash; you have to exercise whatever your shape, size, job, family situation...

Time? I haven’t heard of anyone who has more than 24 hours in a day, so you haven’t been singled out with a shortage of time. Strangely, I find the busiest people are the ones who “find” the time to workout. No, actually they do not “find” the time; they “make” the time. It is all about priorities. You have to decide what is more important to you. Watching that TV serial or chatting for hours on the phone or getting a quick 30 minute workout. Once you make a priority list, then the hour you spend working out becomes non-negotiable. You suddenly, magically, “find” the time.

 If you can’t find anything you like, just do it anyway. Exercise is not meant to entertain you. Grow up. Sometimes we need to do what we need to do. Surprisingly, after doing it often enough, your body begins to recognise it as something you do and is able to cope with the drudgery. It is all about perspective. You start looking at it as something that makes you look, feel and BE better. Not as something you hate or can’t do.

Sometimes I think one of the reasons people do not start at all is because the goals they set for themselves are so daunting that they don’t know where to begin. They expect results overnight; they think about the terribly difficult task ahead; they imagine the struggle they face and just back off in frustration even before they start. 

They key is to set simple, realistic goals. More important, to set more than one single goal. Make sure the goals are not all focused on the weight on the scale because, that is NOT the only reason you need to exercise. 

I will workout five days a week.

I will aim to burn 100 calories more per workout next week.

I will fill in my food journal every day and pay attention to what I eat every day.

I will be more active during the day and not plant myself in front of the TV for more than 15 minutes at a time.

I will do sit-ups at every commercial break on TV.

These are all goals that you can follow and feel pleased about achieving. 

It’s not hard. Start with a 15-minute walk every day. Cover a certain distance. Increase the time to 20-30 minutes. Increase the distance you cover in that time. Add weight training to your routine at least twice a week; 20 minutes a session. Increase the intensity.

Get more active during the day. Don’t remain seated all day. Move as much as possible.

Buy a Pedometer. It clocks the number of steps you take a day. Put it on and try to cover at least 10,000 steps a day.

Find a mentor, preferably someone responsible. This could be an integral part of keeping you motivated. This is something like an AA sponsor/guide who is responsible for your progress. You become accountable to that person. You feel bad if you don’t show up for your workout. You feel guilty for letting them down. This is great to start with. It keeps you motivated, even obligated initially. After a while (hopefully) you start feeling responsible for yourself and are able to stand on your own two feet.

Gradually it becomes a habit. An integral part of your day that you are loathe to miss. You start seeing results (however slow) in your body that you appreciate and this motivates you to keep going. You try new things. Add Zumba to your cardio. Pilates for your Core. Oh yes, it CAN be fun too!