A Kinder, Gentler, Weigh

(Other Articles: War on Fat | What's your Excuse?)

scale While some are crying havoc, and unleashing the dogs of war, others are weighing in for a kinder, gentler approach. This approach focuses more on exercise than on diet and matches exercises to personalities. This approach also makes use of what is called "functional" exercise, which strives to make exercise part of the daily routine- it is not so much concerned with going to a health club as it is in climbing stairs instead of taking elevators.

Know thyself

The first rule in "personalizing" an exercise routine is to discover what you like to do (and what you can do) and what you can't stand. Dig down and decide which type of exercise you enjoy and don't worry about what is fashionable. "Spinning" on stationary bicycles may be all the rage in health clubs, but if sitting on a bike and going nowhere doesn't do it for you, stay away! Here are some exercise "types." Which one(s) fits you the best?

The Social Butterfly

You enjoy people and interacting with them. Keeping score or determining who is good and who is not so good is secondary to you. If there is friction within the group while pursuing an activity, you are not happy and may consider dropping out.

You need to get involved in activities with others and in activities that are not competition-driven. Obviously then, stay away from leagues or groups that do "keep score." Group walkers would be a good fit, or bicycle touring. Getting involved in "low-stress" exercise classes-check community education-might also work. Finally, look for an activity where a score may be kept, but participants don't take it too seriously. This could be done with bowling, golf, or any sport with the "right people".

The Zen of Exercise

You see exercise as a way to relax and get "in touch" with yourself. You like to do things at your own pace and have time to act on your own. You can be with others, as long as the activities are "self-contained" to some degree. First, look into activities you can do on your own and in your own way. Walking is one option, as are cycling, hiking, and jogging. Working with weights on your own, as well as classes in yoga, gymnastics, or tai chi are possibilities.

The Winner's Circle

You push hard and want everyone to know it. You have an edge you want to keep sharp and you thrive during competition. On your own, you keep track of how well you are doing and mark progress. If you have a "bad exercise" day, you are somewhat disappointed. When you attain personal bests, you are thrilled.

You need activities that can be measured, either against others or against yourself. Any sort of league play-softball, bowling, tennis-would do, as well as any type of organized races. If on your own, pick exercises where you can record improvement. This means exercise that calls for speed or endurance.

An Exercise Renaissance

You can partake in any of the above; the main thing is not to get in a rut. This means you will change your style from day-to-day or week-to-week. You have no qualms about getting in a head-to-head competition, but the next day might be happy going on a solitary walk, or playing Frisbee at the family reunion.

Functional Exercise

Another avenue to exercise for those who are not fond of it is to practice what is called "functional exercise." This is simply making exercise part of your everyday routine, but not in the guise of going to the health club or jogging. To make this effective, you should get a total of about 30 minutes of exercise a day. To see if you are doing this, answer the following questions "True" or "False":

  1. I take stairs instead of an elevator.
  2. I walk or bicycle to run short errands.
  3. I do my own housecleaning and laundry.
  4. I am on my feet a lot at my job.
  5. I do my own gardening and yard work.
  6. I play active games with my children.
  7. I park far from the store, not close.
  8. I sneak in an exercise or two while watching TV.
  9. My hobbies involve physical activity.
  10. I get up and change the channel.
  11. I wash my own car.

Seven or more "True": You are probably getting your 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Less than seven "True": Get moving!

The article "A Kinder, Gentler Weigh" is reproduced with the permission of AIM International
©, 1997, 1998, 1999 by AIM International.

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