Starting out slow to reach your goals
By Jason Gilmer
Photographs by Josh Norris
Excuses to blow off a pending workout are easy to find.
Let me show you.
It’s 6 p.m., your workday was hectic with back-to-back meetings and several deadlines, but it’s finally over, and you’re tired and want to relax. See, there’s an excuse for skipping a workout.
How about these? My workout clothes aren’t clean. I’m too busy. My daughter has a soccer match. I’m too thin. I’m too fat. My iPod isn’t charged. I’ll do it tomorrow.
Excuses won’t help you live a healthier lifestyle, though.
“You have to make it a priority,” said fitness guru Clyde Norris. “Just like other people make going fishing or playing golf or doing certain things after work a priority. You have to put it in your daily activities and take the time to do it.”
A healthier lifestyle doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of energy. Norris, the owner of Clyde Fitness in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has taught many people over the years how to live healthily.
In Norris’ mind, there are three major, although completely doable, ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and none involves hours or a daily commitment at the gym.
Weights aren’t just for the super-jacked specimens who congregate around the bench press and 100-pound barbells.
No, strength training is a must for everyone, Norris said.
“It’s good for bone density, which everyone needs, because as you age you lose bone density, and with that comes osteoporosis,” he said. “It gives you the ability to carry out your daily activities, whether they are very strenuous to moderately strenuous to your daily chores.
“Weight training is great for posture. As we age, our bodies tend to lean forward, and with strength training, you can correct that.”
These can be done in your home or at the gym, and it’s easy to mix in calisthenics, such as push-ups, chin-ups, and bench dips, with your free weights.
“Some people like the idea of calisthenics because you don’t have to join a gym,” Norris said.
A new exercise regimen that includes cardiovascular exercises could be daunting to some because they aren’t accustomed to the work.
Norris suggests 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular activity. If that feels like too much, don’t worry because that duration of time should be a goal and not a starting point.
“Everyone’s lung function is different,” Norris said. “I would suggest that you increase it every week until you get to the point where you can do 30 minutes non-stop a day.
“Being in the gym for so long, I’ve seen people come in whose cardiovascular activity level isn’t at 30 minutes, and they feel tired and weak after a few minutes. You have to work yourself up to that point.”
Walking, elliptical machines and stair master exercises are types of cardiovascular exercises, but many gyms also offer classes in spinning, Zumba and other healthy activities.
This one may be the hardest for some people because food is one of life’s greatest treats, especially good Southern foods.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, there has to be some give and take when it comes to food on your plate.
“You want to make sure you take in an adequate amount of protein because protein is what gives your body the ability to build muscle,” Norris said. “Sometimes females are shy about adding protein but don’t be. That’s what gives your muscles the nutrients to build some strength and body density, along with your weight-bearing exercises.”
Vegetarians must eat items like tofu, beans, and nuts to get that protein.
But that isn’t enough, Norris said; you need carbohydrates from green leafy vegetables and root vegetables (in moderation) and some fats (which aid in digestion) each day.
To help you reach your goals, it might be a good idea to work with a personal trainer, Norris said. It’s OK, he said, to talk with several trainers before you decide who to work with.
“When picking a trainer you want to find someone who is certified and you want to talk with them about your goals,” Norris said. “Be personal with your goals and tell them what you want.”
Don’t accept a general plan of care, either. People, like snowflakes, are different, and those differences must be dealt with in the plan. Some people need more cardio, and others need nutritional help, and personal trainers can help with a wide variety of requests.
“Find out how they can put together a plan for you,” Norris said.