By Michelle Pearl, CosMed Clinic’s Guest Blogger
How many times have you made a promise to yourself to start exercising and then thrown in the towel before the first drop of sweat has had time to form on your upper lip?
There are reasons why getting started with an exercise program can be so difficult, and it has nothing to do with your level of desire, or commitment, or the curse of having your Aunt Martha’s genetic predisposition for thick ankles.
It is your body that is quashing all your good intentions. Did you know that the bones in your body are constantly being broken down and restored and that, in fact, your entire skeleton is replaced approximately every 10 years? Your bones actually reshape and rebuild themselves based on the kind of external and internal forces that they are subjected to. In other words, when it comes to your bone structure, form follows function.
Picture a person who has had the misfortune of being bedridden for an extended period of time. The bones of the skeleton literally adapt to this inactivity and become frail and brittle. But this is a gate that swings both ways. Your bones will adapt to physical activity in the same way; increasing in density by laying down more bone tissue in response to the increased physical stresses caused by exercise.
Now you know why so many sedentary elderly folks suffer from broken bones when they fall. The longer they have been sedentary, the more fragile their bones become. As you get older, exercise is one of the best lines of defense that you can draw upon in your lifelong quest to stay active, mobile, and in shape.
Just like with your bones, form follows function in your muscles. Let’s say you sit while you commute to your job every morning. Once there, you sit at your desk all day, and then you sit on the commute home. You finish the day by sitting down to watch TV, repeating the routine day after day.
When the better part of your day is spent in a sitting position, you are doing a terrific job at training your gluteus maximus—your butt muscles—to lengthen, and your hip flexors—the muscles that help you pull your knee upward so that you can walk—to shorten. Your muscles will adapt and reshape themselves to accommodate the way you use them most. That is why the very act of getting up and walking after you sit for a long period can seem like such a chore. You have literally trained the muscles in your body to make you into an Olympic-class couch potato!
That is also why an exercise program can seem so overwhelming when you first get started. Your muscles are messed up, which has likely messed up your posture, which makes almost any exercise harder. You don’t have any cardio-respiratory endurance, so you get winded easily. And to top it all off, you are probably really uncomfortable in skimpy exercise clothing.
The thought of all that can be enough to make you sit down with a tub of ice cream as you toss the whole idea of exercising right out the window.
In the beginning, when everything about exercise seems so difficult, you simply have to go on faith. You have to believe that each of these discomforts will eventually disappear if you just stick with it.
Or you can keep going the way you have been with the clear understanding that you have given yourself front-row seats to the decline of your body and your overall health for the rest of your natural life.
Michelle Pearl, is an actual patient of CosMed Clinic who had reconstructive surgery with Dr. Quiroz after her weight loss. She is also a CPT, GFI, LWMC fitness expert, entrepreneur, former award-winning newspaper columnist and the author of Wake Up, You Are Probably Never Going to Look Like That; How to be Happier, Healthier and Imperfectly Fit. For more information visit: www.ImperfectFitness.com or visit her video blog at www.FedUpFemale.com