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Setting Exercise Goals

Our favorite adage about goals is to start slowly and to go quickly. Way too often, new exercisers have great expectations about their bodies. Then they pay the price for overdoing it. How about you?


A personal goal helps. Your goal might be to attain an acceptable level of aerobics and maintain it. Your goal might be to climb Mount Everest. Perhaps you want to take up a particular sport or outdoor activity. For most of us, though, just getting in shape, staying in shape, and having fun doing it are plenty.

Have you ever gone to an aerobics class at the gym and tried really hard to keep up with the person in front of you? You got an A+ for effort. You gasped for breath, and your legs shook from the exertion, but you soldiered on. The next morning and the following day, your body ached unmercifully. Simple activities such as walking and going up stairs seemed next to impossible. Boy, were you asking for it!

If this happens to you, try the following to recover the next day: stretching sore muscles, hot Epsom salts baths, Emergen-C to replenish electrolytes, and massage to remove lactic acid from muscles.

Start slowly. Gradually increase your exercise time or intensity to allow your body to adapt. Work up gradually to 20 minutes of cardio/aerobics. Ditto strength training. Ditto stretching.

You can always modify your goals if you want more, and there can be good reasons to want more. You might have a specific objective on which you want to focus. For example, we find that strength training is more helpful to fit into your clothes at 40 or 50 or even 60 years old. Plus the bone-strengthening factor of strength training becomes more significant with age.

The Scorecard


When you review your exercise scorecard, if you didn't do as well as you planned, don't become upset with yourself. Forgive yourself and do better the next week, but don't quit keeping score because you'll lessen your resolve.

Your most important scorecard is how you look and feel, plus how you fit into your clothes. Another important scorecard is how your mood and perspective are lifted as you continue your cardio/aerobics, strengthening, and flexibility program.

We also realize that keeping a tally sheet helps. A rule of thumb in business is that what you count tends to increase. The same is true of exercise. If you count clicks on a pedometer, you'll most likely jog or run more. If you count exercise sessions, you tend to do more of them. With that in mind, we suggest that you keep a weekly and monthly exercise chart.

Put a copy of your scorecard on your desk or in your daily planner. Perhaps tape it to your bathroom mirror. At the end of the week, review how well you did.

Exercise is vital to reaching your ideal size and staying there for life. It gives you energy, soothes stress, and boosts your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. The less stress you experience, the less stress eating you'll do. Plus, the more energy you have, the easier it is to eat from 0-5.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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