Lots of people make new year's resolutions to get fit in the upcoming year. Bad news, there's no secret and it's never *easy* because - and I'm sorry about this - cardio will be required no matter what some book or stupid diet or friend-with-naturally-high-metabolism tells you. But it can be fun. There are ways. Speaking as someone who spent the majority of my life doing as little as possible in the way of exercise, I can tell you... it's hard to start. But here are five things that will surprise you in their ability to get you moving, seeing results, and most important - make it fun.
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This was the one I balked at for a long time (and maybe not exactly 'fun'), but as annoying as it is when you start, it's surprisingly easy to do nowadays. Calorie counting sites actually do make it kind of fun to keep track of your nutrition in a less tedious way than with a calculator and a piece of paper. And it's ridiculously effective. There are a ton of free online calorie counters out there, caloriecount.about.com is one. Once you start learning how many calories are in what... you eventually won't need the counter... you will just be more aware of how badly a single donut or an extra slice of pizza actually does affect your weight. Cutting just 1000 calories out of your diet per day will make a difference all by itself, even without working out, there will just be a plateau you reach without exercise. Try it, just count the calories you intake in one day and see what it says. It will shock you and forever change how you eat - for the better.
Join a Fitness Tracking Site
Another website to register for? Yep. This is the one, though. If you have even the tiniest hint of a competitive fiber in your body, this will turn you into a maniac. There are a number of these kinds of community fitness sites, but I'm going to go ahead and give Strava.com the edge. You can download the free app onto your smartphone or use a gps tracking sport watch that can upload to the computer. It has a one-up over some of the others because what it does is allow you track your runs or bike rides against other people in your area doing the same rides/runs. It makes it especially addictive because you can break your rides/runs up into segments - or use segments other people have already created - and match yourself against them, not just your own times. It pushes you harder, because, for whatever reason, you really want to beat those times/other people. You really want the dumb little trophies and positioning. You're rolling your eyes right now, just like I did, but I guarantee -- the first time you see your name at the TOP of a leaderboard -- you're going to be hooked.
Buy a Couple Free Weights
Doesn't have to be anything hardcore... just a couple 10lbers. Leave them by the couch and do curls while you watch TV or whatever. You don't even have to get up, and you're building muscle mass. This isn't because you want to look like the Hulk, this is because muscle EATS fat. Building muscle will actually burn fat while you're just sitting there, not even moving. If you have toned muscles they look badass, sure... but doing hammer curls on the couch isn't going to bulk you up very much. It's just a way to use downtime to keep your metabolism up. Once you start getting pretty good at curls, you're probably going to want to start doing more with your legs and your back and your abs... it's like a gateway drug, and because it's not the dreaded cardio, it's actually pretty fun. You won't be burning many calories, but you will be creating muscles that will down the line.
Sign Up for an Event
Sign up for a 5k, half-marathon or a super fun obstacle race like a Spartan or Rugged Maniac (I can't recommend those obstacle races enough, they are a BLAST). Or maybe just a Half-Century Bike Race. Find one that's in the middle of the year or maybe closer to end of summer.
That gives you a goal to strive towards... and if you are already registered for something, it's a great way to make you feel compelled to get in shape as the event looms closer.
I suppose there are some people who do ok in a gym, but those people probably aren't making these kinds of new year's resolutions in the first place... because they already GO to a gym and it's part of their routine. As for myself, I can't STAND the gym. There is NOTHING more boring than those machines. There is nothing that kills the joy of running worse than a treadmill... nothing more tedious and unfulfilling than riding a stationary bike and watching Fox News pundits kill your faith in humanity on the overhead tv. Now, I'm not saying you should go be Davy Crockett -- but go outside and do whatever you're going to do. Ride a real bike on a local bike path. Find rides in the above-mentioned Strava. Find routes to run in your neighborhood or drive to a park. Mix it up, change your running/biking/hiking routes. If you do the same thing all the time, you will get bored. The minute you get bored, you are going to stop working out. Being outside - especially early in the morning - is fantastic. It wakes you up, makes you feel good... and trust me, I am NOT a morning person.
Find trails - run them or hike them. Bring your dog or a friend. Set a date with someone else so that you force each other to not blow it off. Make it fun and fresh, and you will get in shape and it won't be a trial. You don't believe me now, but try it. It might be hard at first, but once you do it that first time, you will feel sore and great at the same time. And if you track your efforts with Strava you can get a visual of your effort. Mileage, elevation, time... it's a representation of your achievement. Just... go outside. The gym is not the answer for most of us.