Step 5: Daily exercise
For part three of my monologue on losing weight the Boyle way, we need to move on from the easy initial steps of setting your goals and loading up with tracking technology. The next easiest bit for me was to do more exercise. I think this is an essential part of any weight loss programme as it gives you multiple benefits. As well as the direct impact it gives from burning calories, it can also stimulate the metabolism and of course has significant health benefits over and above those from losing weight. Whilst I won’t pretend that it can be a complete solution – you do need to take steps to control your eating and drinking too, I found that it made the scale of adjustment needed much more manageable.
Once you’ve got yourself into the mindset that meeting the net calorie budget over time is “non-negotiable”, exercise becomes the safety valve for any weakness of resolve on the consumption side. A night out planned and don’t fancy drinking water all evening? Better get some extra exercise in to compensate in advance.
Although I’ve done the odd bit of running and cycling, far and away the main contribution has been from walking and time on the cross-trainer. Both of these are low impact and so don’t come with the risk of your programme being put out of action by an injury. And for me at least, I’ve found them the easiest to fit into my daily routine with the least adjustment. That is not to say with no adjustment and the real challenge to significantly increasing your exercise is making the time. I use the term “making” rather than “finding” as none of us have a spare 50 minutes a day that they can easily repurpose. So how have I managed it?
For me, cross-trainer time is a first thing in the morning activity and is something to be done every day if at all possible. Having the equipment at home makes all the difference in terms of minimising the “time overhead”. Compared to exercising at home first thing in the morning, a middle of the day gym trip means an extra shower and (unless you can walk or cycle to the gym), wasted travelling time. You are also most in control at that time too. Time can always be made as long as you get up early enough. I’ve found that squeezing in 30-40 minutes a day most days and a bit longer at the weekend is feasible. The rest of the day is more unpredictable and subject to the demands of other people.
The other great advantage of the cross-trainer is that you can do other things whilst you exercise. An iPad on a stand gives you a world of entertainment and information to keep you from getting bored. My favourite diversion is watching training videos from Lynda.com. So as well as losing weight and getting fit, I’ve been learning lots at the same time.
Walking is the other calorie burning activity that has made a significant contribution. Listening to audiobooks at the same time helps make it an activity that you look forward to rather than get bored doing. I’ve found that, weather permitting, fitting in a 30-40 minute walk during the day is possible on many days. Difficult, but possible. We are all supposed to get time off for lunch after all. And that doubly virtuous “mobile lunch” of fruit eaten on the move gives lots of points. Points which can be cashed in at the weekend in an extra glass of wine or two without busting the calorie budget.
Which is a perfect segue to tomorrow’s topic, the demon drink.