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Healthy Game, Healthy Body

March 2, 2011
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Great, we want to be healthy! We know that exercising makes us feel great by improving our mood, gives us more energy, improves our body’s athletic performance, helps our self-control — an important quality both in a relationship and out of it — and helps us look great.

So we’re going to exercise.

But how’re we going to do it?

First, incorporate activity and movement into your daily life.  Fidget more often. Take the stairs. Run for the bus. Go out for a walk. Take advantage of any activity and any chance to move your body. Let your inner child out. Skip if you’re feeling happy. Dance when music is on. Don’t balk when physical activity is involved.

Second, you need to find exercise that you actually enjoy doing.  Most exercise can be pleasurable from the endorphin rush. However, there’re certain forms that we have more fun with. Make a regular date once a week perhaps with some kind of outdoor team activity. In my beloved London there’re plenty of courts in the parks, from tennis to football (soccer to you Americanos). It could be rock climbing. It could be salsa dancing. You need to find what’s your favoured exercise and just do it.

It is much more easier exercising when there’s a goal in mind, from having fun dancing away with your partner or doing better against a friend who has beaten you one time too many.

Third, you can form a gym workout. Commit to three times a week or so. When I feel unmotivated for a workout, I try and go to a class at the gym; I like the ones which are functional and fun, like dances or martial arts-based classes. I do try out some yoga to try and get flexibility into my stubborn ligaments.

Myself, I’m more a fan of focusing on muscle building than aerobic exercise (“cardio”). A lot of women worry that they’re going to look like some overmasculinised hulk if they work their muscle groups, which just isn’t true. It’s true only at the extremes. You’ll find it pretty difficult to build a substantial muscle bulk, because you don’t have as much testosterone as a man.

I think it’s best if you design your workout with a trained instructor, but if you’re cash-strapped, you can even do a basic routine using weights and stairs at home that you can vary by researching. I started with twenty minutes cardio in an interval style (alternating between high/moderate intensity and low). Then I did 2 sets of 15 repetitions of the following, with thirty second breaks in between each set: chest press, bicep curls, squats, side raises, tricep kickbacks, leg curls, sit ups and planks. Then I did some stretches. I tried to gradually increase my reps, after which I’d increase my weights. With us girls, its usually the lowest weight or the second lowest weight that you start at, but your mileage may vary.

The reason why I’m into muscle building over cardio primarily is because cardio doesn’t really expend that much energy practically above baseline, nor does it have much use outside the gym unless I want to indulge in extended bouts of running or endurance. Not only does muscle building expend energy during the work out but that keeps on going once you’ve built the muscle: the extra mass needs more energy. I also want some definition and tone to my body, as well as strength.

I need an objective measure of what my body’s doing; my relatives tend to think I’m constantly thinning down, and I tend to think my weight fluctuates more than it does. The objective measure I use are scales. I like watching my weight and keeping it stable; not thin, not overweight.  Buy a set of scales and watch your weight on them. Stay within the normal limits of waist-hip ratio/waist circumference(<35in)/BMI* (in order of best measures in terms of health), unless you’re working out and what you’re seeing on the mirror reflects health.

Some people find watching their weight is too much of a psychological issue. If you can accurately estimate where you are in terms of health and don’t have issues in terms of body image, then that’s fine. If you do have issues, then you need to find someone you can trust to help you evaluate where you are.

Lastly, don’t forget to increase your protein intake!

*Some measures are not so good if too much muscle is built up, which can happen and is probably more common in men. The healthy limits can change depending on the constitution given to you making you naturally of a miniscule physique by individual genetics or ethnicity.

ETA: College Slacker has a post up I just noticed on the importance of the gym for guys, and he happens to make the same point about cardio for girls as I did as an aside.

Let me just say that I love the eyecandy at the gym. I love a fit man, and more and more appreciate it as I mature. I don’t think becoming musclebound is always called for and always appreciated by girls, but a certain level of fitness helps.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Miles Anderson permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:21 pm

    Personally I would discount the trainer and learn about your own body. Also weight is not the best proxy for health although it is the one that is easist to measure. One of the apps (I’ve used and like Absolute Fitness on the ios and android) that will allow you to record data about yourself on a daily basis is an invaluable tool. The Hawthorne effect is strong. Another thing to develop is a simple workout that you can do without equipment. Wake up in the morning and do it. Build it into a habit and never let go.

    Tim Ferriss’s book _Four Hour Body_ is a bit cheesy at moments but is really good about balancing learning about and experimenting with your body and objective measurement. Buy it and read it as you incorporate pieces into your lifestyle.

  2. collegeslacker permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:53 pm

    Bhetti-

    Absolutely solid advice for girls. As someone who knows a thing or two about lifting and exercise, girls should definitely try and replicate your workout style. Key takeaway: 2-3 sets involving 15-20 reps of light weight for lifting.

    Because I love you girls and I like what you’re doing here Bhetti, I’ll offer up a bonus tip: If you have any place nearby with any sort of track available, try doing 200m sprints, walking a lap in between each run. That will get you toned like you wouldn’t believe.

  3. collegeslacker permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:55 pm

    Oh, and I’m not muscle bound. I happen to be a “fit man” :)

  4. Firepower permalink
    March 3, 2011 1:57 pm

    fitness is an amazing thing for a woman. every one of my arab gfs was into bellydancing, especially the wealthier ones

  5. Bhetti permalink*
    March 3, 2011 8:16 pm

    collegeslacker: Fit/ musclebound… it’s all manna to me, but some other girls are on different points on that spectrum as to what’s most attractive to them. I think there was a study that convinced me most like fit in the modern western world, though can’t recall the details at the moment (there’s this one I just found though, which has interesting thoughts on greater muscularity being associated with a guy who’s a short-term prospect only: http://dfred.bol.ucla.edu/FrederickHaselton-2007-PSPB-MuscularityFitnessIndicator.pdf .) I’ve seen strange androgynous preferences in terms of body type. What’s universal is that unfit isn’t attractive.

    But guys with really amazing physiques can do zero justice to them by simply the ways they hold themselves, as if uncomfortable with their body or trying to make themselves smaller.

    Anyway, I have to try your suggestion as an experiment.

    Firepower: Of course. Belly dancing’s a cultural bonding thing, a mood enhancer and makes you feel very, very female! Arab girls are forced to do it by our mothers eventually and it seems an important part of our social life to different extents depending on which part of the Arab world.

  6. Bhetti permalink*
    March 3, 2011 8:24 pm

    Miles: That’s an interesting approach. I’m more aware of using the Hawthorne effect for diet (though I didn’t know it under the name, I’m just aware that simply keeping a diet diary alters your habits.)

    I’ll give the app a try (or alternative measures that’re free like calorie counters) and I’ll try the book you quoted. It has an intriguing tagline to say the least: ‘An uncommon guide to rapid fat-loss, incredible sex and becoming superhuman: The Secrets and Science of Rapid Body Transformation ‘. Though I’m a fan of taking it slow, concentrating on making the changes permanent.

  7. anon permalink
    March 9, 2011 3:21 am

    Girls, Y/N on this fellow’s physique?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuBI5UM1bQQ

    Not overly muscular or anything, but one of the most physically powerful human beings who’s ever walked the planet and weighed only 202-207lbs.

  8. March 30, 2014 10:32 am

    It’s really great to read so much commitement on protein form someone else than boys and guys.

    Keep u the good work!

    http://www.cheapprotein.info

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