The Daily Beet

09 May 7 Ways To Get Started With A Workout plus GIVEAWAY!

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I’m betting you love-loved Natala’s article How to Work Out When You’re Overweight. It’s always refreshing to read from Natala because she has been in them thar trenches of getting going with exercise for your health. And when it’s darn hard as an overweight person to get yourself into a frame of mind about it.
Lest you think I was always slim and trim, let me set the record straight. Though I’ve been teaching and training with health and fitness for longer probably than many E2 readers have been alive, it was not without its challenges in the weight department as remember I once weight 50 lbs more than I do at this time. I remember once teaching water aerobics from the side of the pool. There I was in all my weight-problem glory. As difficult as it was, I never let it my weight get in the way of my getting out there and moving, and getting others to do the same. Sometimes it was excruciating. Just so you know, I know what that can be like. And I was the one who was supposed to have it all together and be in great shape, right? So I’ve earned the privilege to talk a little bit to the subject of exercise and overweight.

Here are 7 ways to get started with a workout
1) Start by sitting less: If you are coming from the ranks of the sedentarists, meaning you have a long history of sitting for several hours at a stretch each day, then start by building standing breaks in to your day. At your work station, computer, or wherever it is that you spend a big chunk of your time seated each day, set a timer for every 45 minutes. You can even make it a phone alarm that rings a happy, inviting tune. The first week all you have to do is stand up for a minute. Or whatever goal you set. Make it something doable and reachable, because the whole point is not only to get you off your hmmhmm but to build success. Yay!
2) Walk. One foot in front of the other, YOU set the time goal. Something achievable (see #1) but to which you can say “Hey, I can do that!”. 5 minutes, 10. If you are already doing that, make it 20, 30. If you get 5 out of 7 days accomplished in the next week you call those 5 wins success. And you can get creative and combine #1 and #2, depending on where you are in the workout continuum, as the weeks progress.
3) Breathe. Slowed, deliberate breathing builds your willpower to do things compatible with your health goals. It also builds your won’t power to NOT do things in conflict with your greater interests.It relieves stress and enhances equanimity. You can do it during your standing breaks, or your walk schedule that you are working up as in #2. Aim for 6 breaths a minute for 3 minutes.
4) Imagine. See the big picture of YOU being active, moving – healthy, vibrant, and happy. Imagine yourself doing an activity – walking, stretching, dancing, lifting. Connect with the emotion of reaching your goal. Let yourself get excited about it! It happens on the inside, then the outsides catch up.
5) Don’t wear the dumpy stuff. Ambiance is everything. Don’t wear the ragged hole-riddled t-shirt,the baggy sweats. Unless somehow they make you feel gorgeous. Your workout time is an opportunity to build your vision of vitality and a fit, healthy, beautiful body. Build your vision in as many ways as you can. Try leggings – they come in all sizes and know how to stretch, believe me I know! I personally love a good 3/4 length sleeve, I feel 10 times more elegant than in a t-shirt.
6) Bank it. Pepper in 3 – 5 minute body breaks. Research tells us that short exercise segments accumulated during the day can reap us the same rewards as ‘all at once’. And if you are one of those people who either can’t find the time for a more extended exercise session or the idea of moving for30 minutes at once sends you straight to the couch, a shift to the ‘bank it’ idea might be all you need to turn the tide for you on activity. Mix this in with the ‘sitting less’ idea in #1.
7) Moving makes the eating easier. This little motivational nugget may be all you need to get one or more of the ideas in #1 – 6 implemented. In a recent study, the subjects were asked to make only one change in their life. The researchers found that people who made this one change were also automatically eating healthier , procrastinating less, smoking less, drinking less caffeine, spending less – just about anything you can imagine. And the researchers had asked them to do only one thing.Exercise. And for some, coming from a state of being total non-exercisers, that mean one day a week.Still the carryover benefits in all other areas were observed. Physical activity changes the brain in many of the same ways as does meditation, building neural density in the areas of the brain that are important for self-control. Next time you don’t want to move, remember that moving a little helps you makes the other big changes you are implementing in your plant-strong diet doable.
To make this even more fun, we’re adding a giveaway! Share YOUR ideas for getting started on working out. Think of someone just getting started – or thinking about getting started! Perhaps that is you now,or was you at one time. When the hurdle of being active seemed just insurmountable. Enter your suggestion below and make yourself eligible for winning the entire downloadable Fit Quickie collection.
Fit Quickies are short, 5 minutes-or-under targeted body shapers that you can pepper in throughout the day or string together for a longer workout or to target specific areas. Gorgeous glutes and hamstrings,Topless Muffins, Thigh Warriors are just a few of the fun and playful names for these winners. Set to music, the downloads are video and audio, complete with transcripts. You can see the entire current FitQuickie collection on Lani’s website here: http://www.fitquickies.com

Lani Muelrath is a plant-strong fitness expert! Lani is the creator of The Body Transformation Formula and Fit Quickies™ 5 Minute Workouts. She has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and over 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer. She has received awards for her instruction, created and starred in her own CBS TV Show, and her expertise in the area of health and fitness is called upon by examiner.com, as Fitness Expert for Dr. John McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, coach, Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Kickstart program, and Health and Fitness Lifestyle Expert for Vegan Mainstream.com. She is Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. She and her husband also built their house with their own hands!

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Jamie Engle
    Posted at 08:52h, 09 May

    Set small goals. When you meet goals, you feel good, so make sure the goals are attainable. The smaller you start, the more often you increase the goals. For example, if it’s walk 5 minutes today, then in two days, it’s walk 7 or 10 minutess.
    If you don’t meet your goal, don’t give up – keep trying again and again.

  • Lee Schwartz
    Posted at 09:09h, 09 May

    Great post. I am someone who swims 4 times a week, but then find myself behind a desk 8-9 hours a day, so when I get up I am stiff and find it difficult to walk for a few strides. Your idea of a timer is a great one, and one I can do right from my computer. Thank you!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 09:17h, 09 May

      Lee – let me know how it works out! How long do you plan to set a timer for? You’re not alone in the ‘active couch potato’ syndrome – where we get our workouts in but still sit a big chunk of the day. I’m working on it each day too, as I am busy writing and need to set reminders!

  • Dawn
    Posted at 13:26h, 09 May

    I have lost 150lbs…it all starts w/ that first step!!!!!!!!!

  • Sarah
    Posted at 13:33h, 09 May

    I completed a running plan to get me in 5k shape. I lost 25 lbs and feel great! I am a mother of four kids, ages four and under and I made it a priority to get in shape and eat right. The only person that can stop you from success is yourself.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 13:51h, 09 May

      Sarah, you point out something really important – the “why”. You had a goal of the race, and you are motivated by keeping up with your kids – it’s a priority to you. This is a big secret to success! Congrats!

  • Joanne
    Posted at 13:33h, 09 May

    Be a kid again!! Find ways to just “play”! Go play in the park, walk around, jump rope, hula hoop, play catch, etc. Exercise is a lot more fun when you don’t even know you’re doing it. =)

  • Jennifer Cochran
    Posted at 13:39h, 09 May

    If you’ve got little kids I think a great suggestion is to do what they do. If they’re running around the yard, run with them. If they’re skipping and jumping, you skip and jump too. Do some yoga with them. Put on some music and have a dance party. Pack some apples and go for a hike together. Run along while they ride their bikes or ride together. Go swimming together and use them for resistance training in the water. My kids love to be hauled through the water or lifted like weights. Take a cue from them and their energy and get moving!

  • Holly Ward
    Posted at 13:40h, 09 May

    I was just talking with someone about this at the dog park….jump rope for just a minute 3x aday…. Adding a little more each day

  • Tiana Duart
    Posted at 13:41h, 09 May

    Good advice I joined a gym last week and am trying to find my way around tomorrow I meet with a personal trainer.

  • Mary
    Posted at 13:44h, 09 May

    Started this two weeks ago at work. I have 12 hour shifts at a computer so I started by setting my timer for every hour and got up walked 5 times around my little cubicle , last week I did 10 laps around my cubicle if time permitted and if time didn’t permit I set my next timer at a half hour and got it in that way.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 15:06h, 09 May

      Awesome Mary! This is great. Where did you become inspired to do this? I’m impressed! Next stop – see if your workplace might help you out with a standing work station!

  • Annie
    Posted at 13:54h, 09 May

    I exercise a lot and those first 10 minutes still suck! I will usually tell my self just to get through the first 10 minutes and the rest will feel so much easier:)

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 20:36h, 09 May

      Annie, often that’s what it takes and you show real commitment. People think I always am motivated to exercise but in truth more often it’s connecting with the results and how I’ll feel after I’m done. Unless it’s our daily (sometimes twice) walk – that I always love and look forward to!

  • Kat
    Posted at 14:14h, 09 May

    I literally was a couch potato for years and at the same time as embarking on Engine 2 on Feb 1st i downloaded the couch to 5k app on my phone. It starts with walking and then incorporating a short jog-back to walk, jog etc- 30 mins 3 times a week. I loved it- I could go at my own pace and if i couldn’t jog i could go back to walking. On my off days i just walked. I just ran a 5K and am down 40lbs! Now i’m adding in yoga, zumba- you name it i want to do it- make up for all those years of lost activity. The small steps with the walk /jog were attainable and some weeks i couldn’t increase the jog time i just repeated the previous week. I was so unfit and i never imagined i could start running but it all begins with the first step…

  • Rick
    Posted at 14:15h, 09 May

    My wife and I just started back in February. We have three children: 13, 14 and 17. They keep us plenty busy running them all over the place. We joined an inexpensive gym and made it a priority to always go. We set aside 30 – 60 min each day to go to the gym and do something. Some days, we’re very productive: we do the arc trainer, treadmill, lift weights, walk, infinity stairs, etc. Other days we’re doing good just to get there, but once we’re there, we feel the major part of the battle is won. We work together to keep each other motivated; sometimes it is a real pain to go, but we go. We’ve missed days, but not many. The neat part of the gym is there’s always something new to try. It helps keep it exciting and fun. Our message to newcomers: Don’t get down on yourself for missing a day. Get up off your a$$ and do something. Sitting watching tv or playing on the computer won’t get it done. Find a partner, work together and keep it simple and fun.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 15:51h, 09 May

      Rick – 13, 14, and 17? And you sound so calm!

      I want to underscore your advice about not getting down on yourself. Actually, though intuitively we think if we scold ourselves we’ll ‘shape up and fly right’, it actually doesn’t work that way at all unless we’re children learning not to run in to the traffic. Thanks for the great share.

  • Leslie
    Posted at 14:25h, 09 May

    My husband and I decided collectively that we were going to get fit and change our eating habits together. Instead of gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc., we decided to save our money to get fitness equipment that we could use at home. We bought a Wii Fit and an elliptical machine that we use in addtion to our treadmill. We also bought bikes, so now we ride together. We run together, we set goals together. He is a golfer, so instead of riding on a golf cart, he now walks the course (the miles really add up!) I have made it a personal goal to “go outside of my comfort zone” and try new things…Zumba, yoga, etc. Collectively, we have lost about 80 pounds and we love our more active lifestyle!

  • Jeff
    Posted at 14:30h, 09 May

    Wake up early, I set my alarm for 5:15am so that I can go for a walk/run or workout before work. After work stuff happens and I can easily talk myself out of working out. So by starting my day off with a workout is the best thing for me. Over 65# gone and another 40 to go, one morning at a time.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 20:37h, 09 May

      Jeff, it’s so true! Our willpower gets hammered over the course of the day and it can be tough to get some get up and go late in the day. Good strategizing!

  • mary
    Posted at 14:32h, 09 May

    I do a walk/run program , 3 miles 4 to 5 times a week. I helps to pick a goal race to register for to get you out the door. Mine was the Walt Disney Marathon!


    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 20:38h, 09 May

      Great plan Mary! When was the marathon? I’m impressed! I’ve done a 1/2 marathon and a shortened triathlon. I think I should get extra points because the water for the swim was 55 degrees!

  • Susan
    Posted at 14:32h, 09 May

    I agree, start small, but just start! My husband, son and I went plant strong about 6 months ago. I walk -we have two dogs, and that helps get me out and going. My husband started putting on oldies music full blast and riding his exercise bike (the arms move, too) for 20 minutes a day. He has lost 40+ lbs, I have lost 15 (I am now at my goal weight). So, again, just START!

  • rebecca
    Posted at 14:33h, 09 May

    I started exercising 12 years ago, in my early 20’s. How did I start? I steped outside and started running. Of course I rarely walked let alone ran so at first I just ran to a light pole, walked to the next, ran to the next and I would repeat this pattern for about 15-30 minutes. Then, before I knew it I could run through two light poles and walk one and repeat this pattern for 15-30 minutes. The next thing I knew I could run continuously for 15-30 minutes. From there I upped my mileage and got faster. You don’t need a fancy program, just good shoes.

  • Marck
    Posted at 14:34h, 09 May

    Making little changes sure helps my mindset and keeps me going at my exercise plan. One small (okay tiny) change I made was getting a hand basket instead of a cart at the grocery store, makes me feel fit instead of lazy!

  • Joyness Sparkles
    Posted at 14:39h, 09 May

    I cannot do a “workout” anymore. I used to love it till the back injury.

    Now I work in the garden…when I am focused on the plants I do not notice the back pain so much.

    We do for family outings in State and National Parks. I walk on the flat surfaces with my family and when they go off to hike the more difficult pathways, I enjoy the serene peacefulness with my camera and/or a book.

    Shopping of any kind gets me out of the house and walking around. When I am bargain hunting, I do not notice the back pain very much either.

    After looking at the Fit Quickie collection, as long as there is no jumping around, weight lifting or sit-ups. I think I may be able to handle those. I am rather excited about this. 🙂

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 20:41h, 09 May

      Joyness, sorry to hear about your injury. What is your challenge, if I might ask?

      The FQs have no jumping, and there are weights only on the triceps (which can be done with no weights) and a couple of new ones I put together for the book. They are all Physical Therapist reviewed and approved!

  • Michelle
    Posted at 14:42h, 09 May

    While my oatmeal is cooking, I do arm exercises. Walking my small dogs on short walks and also while talking on the phone, walking around the house. Parking a little further away from a store, climbing stairs instead of taking the escalator, lots of small ways to make a difference, we must keep moving! I also practice yoga.

  • Cathy
    Posted at 14:58h, 09 May

    Love all your posts! I started exercising, weight training daily, and life style change eating habits a few years ago. Lost 30 pounds, plant strong and feel great! The 7-habits above are priceless. Keep moving forward, always, even if at times they are baby steps! YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

  • Shari
    Posted at 15:07h, 09 May

    Thanks for the tips, I am just getting started and this is just what I need to get me off the couch and walking through the neighborhood.

  • patty
    Posted at 15:16h, 09 May

    My friend who heard me speak of wanting to be more active invited me to his boot camp class. I was intimidated, but went anyway. Tomorrow will be week 4 and I’m loving it!! It’s very challenging, but the participants and leader are SO encouraging. I never liked group fitness classes but this is different. EVERYONE struggles with at least some aspect so I don’t feel so alone. It’s awesome!! Even though I have to do Epsom Salt soaks for a few days
    afterward. 😉

  • sandra
    Posted at 15:17h, 09 May

    I just love Lani and all the wisdom that comes form her blogs. Thanks for keeping my moving forward on my journey!

  • Jana Yowell
    Posted at 15:36h, 09 May

    I strongly believe that if you hire a qualified personal trainer you can be more effective and avoid injury. I see people doing the wrong things all the time. It is a fabulous investment for your health.

  • Connie W
    Posted at 15:45h, 09 May

    I will start the couch to 5k plan once I heal from oral surgery. Right now just walking.

  • Sara
    Posted at 15:45h, 09 May

    If you live near the ocean, a walk to the beach and along the coast is a great way to start or end the day! Sunrises or sunset are a spectacular motivation…:-)

  • Heather Olsen
    Posted at 16:00h, 09 May

    It sounds a bit silly, but I’ve successfully used those from-your-childhood, shiny gold star stickers for motivation. I jot down my planned workouts on a printed calendar that I post front and center on my fridge, and I put a sticker next to each when completed. Watching the page fill up with the stars gives me a boost every time I enter the kitchen, and motivates me to earn “streaks” of exercising more days than I had been before!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 10:40h, 10 May

      Heather, one of my favorite phrases is ‘star on the chart’ – and having taught for over 30 years, I still know the value of the ‘star’. I appreciate you stepping forward and sharing this always timely device!


  • Rachel
    Posted at 16:07h, 09 May

    I’ve started standing up at my computer at work! If your work environment allows for this, I highly recommend it! While I don’t recommend everyone do what I did (take apart my cubical and adjust the height of half of my desk without asking for help), you could find out if it’s possible for you to be given a sit-to-stand desk at work or just try a temporary fix like placing your laptop on top of a printer paper box on your desk or finding some work that you can do while standing (reading documents, etc) and block out parts of your day to work from that position. Once you’re standing, it’s easy to toss some quick exercises in like calf raises, side leg lifts, squats, standing stretches, etc. Since I made this transition, four of my office mates have also started standing and are loving it!

  • ANita
    Posted at 16:15h, 09 May

    Schedule it on your calendar. Every day, I workout between 3-4pm, no matter what. I only make exceptions on the rare occasion or emergency situation.

    Also, to get through periods where I DON”T see the scale moving, for motivation, I remind myself to continue on because it’s good for my body and eventually I’ll see results.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 10:46h, 10 May

      Anita, one of the values of the scale – it CAN be used for positive motivation, as you demonstrate. Sounds like you’ve got a great system.


  • Kathy Grant
    Posted at 16:18h, 09 May

    Great article. I’ve been plant strong since December and feel great. As a person who is getting older, I get discouraged when the bod doesn’t cooperate with all of the exercise I give it. Things just don’t want to firm up! But I shan’t give up.:-)

  • Renee
    Posted at 16:30h, 09 May

    I am starting slow..becoming a vegetarian and beginning the track to vegan. Haven’t had meat or chicken in months. Not seeing any weight loss yet but I am a fairly active and not too overweight. I want this as my lifestyle not only because of health but my love for animals is so great and their treatment by the industry so appaling. I am having your vegan mac and cheese tonight. Sneaking it in on my family. Smells wonderful.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 11:50h, 10 May

      Renee, one foot in front of the other! Keep moving forward and stay connected with the E2 community for ideas and support. I’ll be right over for dinner 😉


  • Alice
    Posted at 16:36h, 09 May

    I am a working college student with very little time for sleep, let alone an exercise regimen, so I try to cram little bits of exercise in where I can. Like doing squats while I wait for the microwave to finish, or lifting weights while reading a textbook. I also like to speed clean, and vacuuming as fast as you can is a great way to really get your blood pumping. I just started being plant strong and improving my physical health, so I have only lost 1 pound so far, but as long as I do something every day, even a little something, I feel better about myself and my choices.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 15:08h, 10 May


      “Like doing squats while I wait for the microwave to finish, or lifting weights while reading a textbook. I also like to speed clean, and vacuuming as fast as you can is a great way to really get your blood pumping”

      This is so cool!


  • Carolyn L
    Posted at 16:58h, 09 May

    I take my doggies for a walk, and I try to get up and walk up and down my back stairs every hour or so! I tend to sit for hours and not realize so setting the timer on my phone will be a great addition!

  • Suzan Marie
    Posted at 17:03h, 09 May

    Wow! This is exactly the motivation I needed today! Thank you! Why put off till tomorrow what can be started today – and on that note, I’m gonna get off my booty and go for a walk! Good luck everyone!!! 🙂

  • thatcrazyvegan
    Posted at 17:22h, 09 May

    Little changes over time produce great results.

  • Lor Quick
    Posted at 17:29h, 09 May

    This is my 4th day on E2 plan. I feel good. I know I need to add more exercise into the mix as well though.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 18:05h, 09 May

    Find a friend or family member & do it together. Knowing someone else is planning to go on a walk with you, or whatever, helps encourage you to do it. And if THEY bail, you can go anyhow and will feel extra proud of yourself.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 18:07h, 09 May

    I find that the thing that motivates me best is others. I always let people know my plans and what I am doing because I have then inadvertently created an accountability partner. That helps to keep me on track and motivates me to do better every day with my workouts. And never get frustrated if you can’t do what someone else is doing. Baby steps is where it starts. For the longest time I pushed myself to do as well as everyone else around me. When I realized what works for them doesn’t work for me right now and found a workout that caters to what I can do right now, it made me feel so much more accomplished. And now I find myself able to work towards bigger workout goals.

  • Lisa McCann
    Posted at 20:03h, 09 May

    Have been plant strong for 2 months. Feel great, losing weight. But i am a night person, who has a hard time with morning routines. (cant blow myself out of bed). I used to work out after work but that put me getting home around 6:30 then by time i had dinner ready it was 7. Not really working for my family. Going to try to begin weekend workouts. Any suggestions.

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 21:44h, 09 May

    Make a personal list of what you will gain through moving (health, energy, look good in jeans, sleep better, etc). Then read the list periodically, but especially on days when you don’t feel like moving. Give yourself 15 minutes of exercise on those days. Your perspective will change. It’s about retraining and renewing the mind.

  • BH
    Posted at 01:08h, 10 May

    Yes, you are right, I did love Natala’s post re: working out overweight. Thanks

  • Monica
    Posted at 10:39h, 10 May

    While I’m not new to exercise, there are those days or periods of time when my mind wants to come up with every excuse in the world as to what is more important (and truly nothing is). What I’ve found to help most during those days is 1) having a workout ‘buddy’… while my husband and I don’t work out together, we go to the gym together and just knowing that we’re going at X time is helpful, 2) I mix it up; my cardio may consist of spin class, finding a run that includes lots of stairs, dividing my time into three equal parts of step mill – treadmill – rowing, and often I will have my weight workout interspersed with high energy moves, I also throw in lots of high intensity intervals. 3) change up my iPod playlist; I have multiple play lists that I alternate to keep it more interesting 4) most importantly I try and remember the “why” of exercise…. while it’s great to look good while at the beach, my real motivation comes from a place of well being and health!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 11:49h, 11 May

      Monica, intervals are BIG when it comes to saving time and mixing things up. You’ve got a whole fleet of solutions here. Thanks for sharing!


  • Alaura
    Posted at 14:13h, 23 June

    I am 37 years old and weigh about 105lbs. I’ve been suffering from Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis for 11 years now, and been on a few oral medications and just got started on a IV infusion treatment. The question I am wanting to ask is if this diet would be safe for someone as slim as me to go on?
    Can anyone help me with this answer?

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