The Lovely Anna asks:
I wonder, maybe you can help, how does one start exercise when it's *never* been a part of your lifestyle? As much as I know I need to be exercising, it's just... I wouldn't even know where to start. And even if I did, what am I supposed to wear? Should I run, or walk? Bike? How far?
Gooooood questions. Hopefully I won't sound too "bipolar Fred" when I answer them, for what I did and what are recommended are two VERY different things.
When I first began to exercise, I literally couldn't walk around the block without becoming short of breath. I remember sitting on the curb - it took me a little while to get down there - and crying. I was, at one point in time, fairly fit and moderately active. But who can't walk around the block? I made myself go four times, which was about .25 of a mile. I forced myself to double it every week. Half mile the second week, a mile the third week. It was *torture*. I stayed at a mile for a little bit, and then added another. I did this by walking a mile "to" a place, so that I'd have to walk back. It's a little mind trick that I still use today.
Once I was up to walking about 4 miles - which was, I think, about 6 months in - I got a wild hair. Running looked FUN - seriously, everyone I see running makes it look effortless, they just glide around like swans - and so I started running a minute at a time. Gah. How incredibly heavy I felt while running, and how grounded and struggling it was for me. But I kept up and kept up, and finally got to the point where I could run about 6 miles.
And then I got injured. I tore my IT band while finishing the half marathon and was out of any type of running or walking or martial arts for three months. Almost immediately upon reentry, I broke my toe. Shortly thereafter, every time I ran, my IT ached and ached, and I didn't feel like I was doing it any good by running. So, I stopped for a while, and went back to walking - the same four miles that I'd worked up to after each injury recovery period.
THEN I had hernia surgery. THEN I had melanoma cut out of two places and I just flat out gave up. Kidding. I still run and walk but I find that I have to take it slow.
So, sorry - I made that all about me. The point was, I think that I did too much too fast and that was why I got injured. I recommend that you stick with a distance that is just beyond what you can comfortably do. Do you think you can walk a mile? Plot it off and go for it. If it's too short, you can always walk it again. You want to feel tired at the end, but not exhausted. Shoot for five days a week if you are trying to lose weight - 45 minutes to an hour is optimal, at a pace that gets your heart pumping.
What to wear? Whatever you are comfortable in. Don't go out dressed as warmly as you need to be comfy, because you want to move enough to warm up, and you'll quickly get too sweaty and start stripping. It's never comfy to walk carrying a sweatshirt and a hat and gloves. Long pants are great, but make certain that they aren't so full at the ankles that they trip you. You can spend lots of money on clothes, but that's really not necessary. Start off in whatever you have, and make a goal for yourself. Lose ten pounds and you'll buy a new fiber wicking shirt. Twenty pounds gets you a running skirt with capris. (Aren't those cute?)
The one thing I'd really recommend is that you invest in good shoes and socks. I find that cotton socks give me blisters, and I pony up the $$ and buy quality running socks. I am a HUGE fan of the DeFeet brand.
Does that help? Ask me for clarification if I rambled on too much!