So you You Want to Work Out?
I was terrified, filled with worry that I would be the biggest, the slowest, or get left behind; I was certain I didn’t belong. On the first night, our run leader introduced herself and to my surprise, she was a plus-size athlete. Under her leadership, I realized that I could live my athletic dreams in the body I had without constantly battling with my weight. Quickly, my motives changed from trying to conform my body to a certain size to building the body I had into the strongest version of myself. It was one of the most freeing experiences of my life and it changed everything I thought I knew about fitness.
Does the first part of that quote feel familiar? If so you’re not alone. No matter how much you enjoy and appreciate being plus size, it isn’t always easy to stride into a gym full of skinny fitness freaks without feeling the pressure, feeling as though you stand out a bit too far.
If you want to work out and get yourself fit, here are some common sense tips to help build your confidence and get you on the road to success, whether success means dropping a few pounds or just toning your big, gorgeous body to its best advantage.
Forget the past
Plenty of us plus sizers have had bad experiences. Yours may have even started at school, a place where negative feedback about our weight can cause people like us to clam up and reject exercise for life. If that’s you, it’s time to throw out those old feelings and start fresh. Fitness, now you’re away from the horrors of high school, can be a really positive experience. It can be difficult, of course, but nobody else can do it for you, so open your mind to the possibilities. Acknowledge that you are choosing to exercise, not being forced into it. Know that a strong, fit body – whatever its size – is something to be proud of and, unlike actual weight loss, it’s something everyone can achieve.
Start small – Walking is amazingly effective!
Rather than hurl yourself in at the deep end with full-on jogging, running or gym work, our first tip is all about taking things a little bit easier, at least at first. A simple brisk walk is a wonderful way to get to grips with the pleasures of physical activity, and it also happens to be an excellent aerobic exercise.
Walking helps promote weight loss, improves the quality of your sleep, boosts your mood and energy levels, cuts blood pressure and cholesterol levels, even reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. And it’s free. You can do it anywhere – urban, suburban, countryside – and enjoy it all year round. You don’t need special clothing, just comfy walking shoes or trainers. And the faster and farther you walk, the better you’ll feel.
While running is more rigorous, you can achieve the same health and fitness benefits by walking. It’s particularly good if you’re just starting out on a new exercise regime, or have health issues, and as a plus size person it puts less strain on your body than running.
Walking comes with extra benefits that the gym just can’t offer: exposure to fresh air, involvement with nature in the form of the countryside, parks, or simply the gardens you walk past. In other words, plenty of distraction from the fact that you’re doing exercise!
Once you’ve built up your confidence and improved your basic fitness level through walking, you might find you feel more inclined to tackle the gym. If not, that’s cool – keep on walking every day, extend your distance and speed, and you will slowly, steadily get fitter.
Pick activities you actually enjoy
To benefit from a workout of any sort, you need to genuinely enjoy the process and want to do it every day. That’s one of the reasons simple walking is so good – it’s super-easy, very effective and something you can do any time, anywhere.
Do what feels good for you and your body. Think about what kinds of activity you might genuinely get a kick out of. Does rowing float your boat? Have you always adored tennis or badminton? Are you naturally as strong an an ox, and get a big kick from lifting awesomely heavy weights? The more you enjoy the process, the more likely you’ll be to stick to it.
Going personal with your own fitness trainer
Privacy is one big advantage of a personal trainer if you’re self-conscious about your weight. It’s also a fab idea if you’re perfectly happy being plus sized. If you can afford it, a personal trainer will tailor a special exercise routine to your unique capabilities, with your fitness goals in mind, and because it’s their job to keep your nose to the grindstone, you don’t need quite as much willpower. It can also be extremely enjoyable having a dedicated expert supporting you through thick and thin. There might even be a specialist plus size personal trainer in your area – Google it and see.
Getting fit with a friend
Another reliable way to motivate yourself is to do exercise with a mate. If one of you feels like not bothering, the other can gee things along. But if you’d rather go it alone….
Going it alone? First, decide WHY you want to get fit
It’s tough to motivate yourself when you don’t have a goal to aim for. Even if you have a goal, if you’re only exercising because you feel you should, you’ll find it even more tricky to get going and stay motivated. It helps to know that exercise will give you more energy, make you feel happier and potentially even change your life. That level of conviction is powerful stuff, and it’ll help you hang onto your staying power. But a solid goal is even better: to be able to run up the stairs without getting out of breath, to drop five pounds, to tone up your arms, to lose a proportion of your belly fat.
Look the part to feel the part
You don’t need special gear for walking. But when you look the part it definitely helps you feel the part, so grab yourself some proper gear. The right exercise clothing will also stop chafing, stop your clothes riding up and keep your wobbles comfortably under control. If you can’t find anything you like for plus size fitness freaks on the high street, there’s plenty online.
Measure where you’re at
If you get worn out after a ten minute walk around the block the first time, by the tenth time you go out for a brisk walk you’ll perform a lot better. It’s good to notice your progress because it spurs you on, and otherwise you’ll never know whether or not you eventually achieve your goal. Make a spreadsheet of stuff like how long it took you to walk a mile the first time, second time, third time and so on if you like. When you start to see the difference, no matter how small, it’ll really encourage you to carry on.
Celebrate your success
The minute you set a goal and get cracking, you’ve embarked upon the journey. Every time you take exercise you’re moving closer to your goal… so celebrate it. Pat yourself on the back. Consciously appreciate how much better you feel after taking part in physical activity, how sparkly and fresh your mind feels, how pleasurably tired your muscles feel, how well you sleep, how happy you feel, and how much fitter you are. Celebrate your success each and every day…. as a BBW or BHM, you’re worth it!
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