Actually it's five little secrets and one big secret.
I can't take credit for the five little secrets because they are a combination of advice that I received from friends who are personal trainers and nutritionists. But I discovered the big secret on my own.
Here are the little secrets for getting in shape:
1. Make a commitment. I don't mean make a decision or a verbal commitment, you need to make a big commitment. For me, that meant getting an elliptical machine. I found one that was absurdly cheap (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS.../3fatchionadie
) but it doesn't really matter what your commitment is as long as it's not easy to disregard. Paying a few hundred dollars and having a big piece of exercise equipment in the house is not easy to ignore!
In the past, I have ignored expensive gym memberships as well as equipment that was under $100 and easy to stow away so I wanted something different. I also didn't have much luck with workout buddies because their lack of motivation would affect mine. I am against paying too much for overpriced equipment and training CDs. And finally, I chose an elliptical over a treadmill because they are better for the knees and give a better workout.
2. Eliminate your excuses. Having the elliptical machine in my house eliminated the "I don't have time to go to the gym" excuse for me. For those of you who prefer gyms, sign up for one that is located somewhere your work and home so you'll have to see it on the way home, thereby eliminating the "it's out of the way" excuse.
3. Watch what you eat. You don't have to overdo it and drive yourself mad but just make a conscious decision about what you eat and try to make it healthy 90-95% of the time. I like fruit so I try to snack on fruit and drink lots of water. I try not to walk past the vending machines at school anymore.
4. Reverse your negative thoughts. Every time you say, "this won't work" or "I'm fat", say the opposite ("this is working great!" or "I'm on my way to being thin!"). It may feel like you are lying but your subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between true and false self-talk so it's better to give it positive messages so it can help you rather than negative self-talk that actually will hinder you.
5. Exercise every day. This is surprising but it's easier to exercise a little everyday than it is to exercise more just a few days per week. The reason is that if I decide to exercise 3-4 days per week, I keep feeling like today's busy and I'll get to it tomorrow but then tomorrow's busy too and at the end of the week, I've only exercise one or zero times.
By exercising everyday, you are forced to find the time today, even if it's just 10 or 20 minutes. You can't procrastinate if it's everyday. I tried to exercise between 20-45 minutes every day. A couple times I exercised for an hour per day and the first few times I exercised for 10-15 minutes per day to gently break myself into the new routine.
Obviously you want to check with your doctor before implementing any new exercise routines.
And finally, the BIG SECRET to successful exercise and weight-loss:
(drum roll please...)
Make it fun! While I don't particularly like exercising, it's really the boredom that makes me not want to do it. This was a huge revelation for me because I always thought it was the exercise itself that I hated. Just as you couldn't put your iPod on and sit still on the couch for an hour without feeling bored, your mind will be bored just listening to music for 30-60 minutes on a treadmill. And the garbage TV shows at the gym don't count as entertainment either.
So the big secret is to find a suspenseful show or audiobook (your library has lots of them) and ONLY watch or listen to it when you exercise.
Personally I like to watch The Apprentice on the Internet and listen to Harry Potter audiobooks. Then I look forward to finding out what happens next and I can only find out if I exercise. It's super important not to indulge your curiosity during non-exercise times because then you actually look forward to exercising to find out what happened. You can watch the Apprentice here (http://apprentice.tv.yahoo.com/trump.../episodes.html
) and get audiobooks from your library or from audible.com.
Once I started this routine, I went from flabby to (almost) having my old smokin' body back in just five weeks. It's surprising to pass my goal so fast and to be setting up new goals. And I'm rather clumsy and uncoordinated so if I can do it, you can too!
Send this link to your loved ones and give them the gift of health. So many health problems can be avoided with exercise and this makes it easier.
If anyone has any secrets to add to this list, I welcome them. I'm especially interested in how to maintain the motivation over the long-term so please share if you have found something that works well. Also, if you try this, I'd love to hear about your progress so please post how you are doing.