Cutting Corners

    It might be that time. That time when your waist begins to whisper (as mine has been doing) that maybe we've had it a little TOO good this winter. When you consider as you do that stupid little hopping motion known in some circles as the "pants dance" to pull up your jeans that it might be time to take off a few pounds.
    But you can't afford a gym membership and don't have time to use one anyway. Not to mention, exercising just sounds like so much...EFFORT.
    Fortunately, if you've read some of my other articles for this column, you know how to afford a new wardrobe.
    However, if you're extremely fond of the one you have, it might be time to exercise. Here are some easy ways to do it that only require slight rearranging of your schedule and a little bit of money (not nearly what you'd have to pay in medical bills later!).
• Exercise first thing in the morning—Studies all over the place have shown that there is in fact a most effective time to exercise...and that, unfortunately for night owls, is first thing in the morning. People who start their day with exercise not only feel more energized throughout their day, but they tend to be more consistent about it than those who wait until later in the day.
    • Do it at home—Seriously, pick up an exercise video from Wal-Mart and do it in the privacy of your home. You won't be able to use the excuse of weather or "I just don't feel like leaving the house today" to weasel your way out of it, and you won't feel judged by the other more fit people in the gym. Also, you don't have to pay an additional cost such as a membership fee!
    • Start where you're comfortable—This is really important. If you haven't been going to a gym every day for a few years, don't start with a boot-camp-like program because you think it'll get you fit faster. You're more likely to hate it with every fiber of your being, get discouraged, and quit. Start with something easy like walking or fun like dancing. There is a physical activity for everyone; find what you like, and stick with it!
    • Set your own pace—Don't feel like you have to go straight from walking for ten minutes to sprinting four miles the next day. Your body will accustom itself to this new idea slowly at first. But keep focused on it. One day you'll stop breaking a sweat over your usual workout and your weight loss will plateau. Don't panic; just change something. Maybe make it a little harder or add a new element. You stop benefitting when your body stops being surprised.
    Exercise doesn't HAVE to be a huge chore that you hate. You're much more likely to stick with it and enjoy it if you keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race!