Home LIFESTYLE GETTING IN SHAPE: Experts offer advice for choosing best diets, exercise routines

GETTING IN SHAPE: Experts offer advice for choosing best diets, exercise routines


Grant D. Crawford
Tahlequah Daily Press, Okla.

It’s been three weeks since the new year began, and many health resolutions have likely fallen by the wayside. But those with an aptitude for health and wellness know setbacks in exercise and diet routines are common, and the calendar does not dictate when a person can start living a healthier life.

Elisha Allison, personal trainer at Aerofit Healthclub, said people sometimes get consistency and perfection confused.

“There are going to be times when you mess up,” he said. “It’s more when, not if, you’re going to mess up. The most important thing is just to get back on track, and not let that one time completely derail or ruin your progress because you didn’t try again. Don’t give up.”

The two staples of getting in shape and becoming healthier are diet and exercise. While people might see results from focusing on just one, they won’t see the results those who work on both sides of the equation see.

A common mistake for those undertaking a new fitness regimen is they try too much, too soon. Those who have never really exercised, or have done it rarely, should not spend three hours in the gym from the get-go, said Allison.

“The best tip for somebody who’s wanting to get into exercise is don’t try to do a 180,” he said. “Take it one step at a time. Just change your behavior and habits slowly over time.”

Newly minted health aficionados should find the exercises that work for them. Allison recommends people be honest with themselves about their abilities. If they aren’t used to going to the gym, but would like to start, they could try it once a week.

“Then the next week, let’s try to go two times,” he said. “And then the following week, we might do three. Do the machines you’re used to. Walk on the treadmill. Anything is better than nothing.”

Not everyone can afford to go to a gym, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start exercising. A light jog or bike ride will help get the heart rate going and help tune up the body.

Heather Winn, family and consumer sciences educator for the Cherokee County OSU Extension Office, said getting out for a walk is a good start.

“Sometimes people run into problems if they start with running,” she said. “If you just walk, that’s a good start for people to get built up to exercise more. Yoga is a good way to exercise. It’s more relaxing and helps you get better balance.”

Scores of workout routines and diets can be found on the internet. While anyone can do the research and try to pick out the best path forward, it might be beneficial to find a professional who knows the road map to success.

At Aerofit, trainers take clients through a functional movement screening to assess their range of motion before giving them a routine.

“It’s hard just to look at somebody and say, this is what you should be doing,” said Allison. “It takes going in and seeing their range of motion and how strong they already are before you can start tailoring a workout for them. You have some people who have a ton of injuries and think they can’t get started because of all these injuries. It’s more about working around what they can’t do and doing what they can do, and focusing on that.”

People can run all they want, but if they don’t have a healthy diet, the results will be limited. Those looking to shed a few pounds need to remember the calories they burn must be more than they take in.

“If you’re wanting to gain weight, you’d have to put yourself in a calorie surplus, which would be taking in more calories than what you burn,” said Allison. “If you want to lose weight, you need to put yourself in a calorie deficit, so taking in less calories than you burn. As long as you have that in place, all diets will work.”

Fad diets have become popular among people looking to see quick results. While they could see results on the scale at first, oftentimes, diets that eliminate certain foods groups or require dietary supplements are unhealthy.

“A lot of fad diets have you eating low carbs,” said Winn. “It’s really not healthy to do that for a long period of time. While you’re on a diet, you may lose weight or inches, but it’s not healthy to do that forever. Our bodies need the variety of fruits and vegetables. We do need carbs, because that does give us energy, and we do need protein. Our body is like a machine, so we need a little bit of all of those things.”

Eating in moderation is a good start. Finding replacements for heavier foods will help, too. Instead of drinking whole milk, dieters will get all the nutrition they need from 1 or 2 percent milk. Winn suggests whole grains over enriched flour, and avoiding processed foods will help cut excess calories. A healthier diet doesn’t have to break the bank, either.

“People think it costs a lot of money to eat healthier,” said Winn. “While it could potentially, if you use your resources and watch the sales at the grocery stores, you can eat healthy and not spend a lot of money doing that.”

Those who aspire for a healthier diet can also start paying closer attention to food labels. Allison gave an example that included burgers one evening.

“You go and look for the lowest-calorie bread, and you’re going to save 100 to 150 calories,” he said. “Then, you do that with your meat, with your cheese, and the next thing you know, you’re saving 500 calories, and you’re still getting to have your cheeseburger.”

Finding a routine that works doesn’t take much effort, but sticking to it can be difficult.

“That consistency is where you’re going to see the results,” said Allison. “If you’re not consistent, you’re never going to see results. Everybody can start something, but those who see results are consistent for long periods of time.”


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