Wavell Starr Column

The first time I lifted weights was in my friend’s basement in my elementary school days in grade 5. We did arm curls and pull ups because that was really all we knew how to do. Soon after that, I would start my day with the Hulk Hogan workout routine complete with the equipment and music! This was my first exposure to what has become a lifelong interest in physical fitness and I try to influence other First Nation people to do the same. I believe inactivity, obesity and poor eating habits are issues of concern within the First Nation community.

I hope the information I share, which I have acquired through experience as a professional athlete and a lifetime in sports, can help readers become motivated to make a plan and follow through. Whether you are a beginner with no experience, or a lifelong athlete, now is the time to take charge of your physical health or take it to the next level! Please remember to always consult with your physician before attempting to start any fitness or training routine.

It’s one thing to work out hard for a short period to lose weight or fit clothing for a day, but it’s an entirely different thing to remain active for the long term. There are two major pillars that ultimately lead to lifelong fitness.

Firstly, establish a general, daily routine that works for you. Try to follow consistent times for when you go to sleep, when you wake, what times you eat, what time you train, etc. Some of the greatest athletes/ trainers are creatures of habit.

Secondly, remain consistent. It’s ok to make adjustments to the daily routine from time to time as needed, but it’s important to consistently stick to a daily routine. For example, I usually train at the gym at noon in the spring and summer, and then I switch to evenings in the fall and winter.

There are four basic steps that I believe are the best ways to get started for the person that has no experience with physical fitness.

Cut out the sugar and white bread. Sugar and processed flour are some of the worst, if not THE worst items you can consume for a couple of reasons. First, they can make you gain fat. Second, the fat gain can lead to a plethora of other health problems such as diabetes and heart problems, which are both major issues within the First Nation community. If you are a regular coffee drinker that normally uses sugar in your coffee simply stopping to use it in your coffee will drastically improve your capacity for improving your physical fitness. Switching to whole wheat bread is another healthy step.

Implement a cardiovascular component to your routine. Doing “cardio” will aid in improving heart health, as well as lead to fat loss. There are numerous ways to do cardio without having to join a gym. Walking at a brisk pace for 20 minutes is a good start but be mindful not to push yourself too hard if you are just beginning. It is natural that you will feel fatigued and out of shape if you start training after being inactive for years, but if you remain consistent it will get much easier!

Start doing some weight resistance exercises. Your muscles need to be trained by making them perform their function with resistance. Again you don’t need to join a gym to start but it would be great to get rubber resistance bands so you can train anywhere and everywhere. Examples of resistance exercises for the upper body include pushups, chin ups, rubber band arm curls and triceps extensions, wall pushes, sit ups and planks. For lower body you can do wall sits, squats and lunges with your bodyweight, climbing hills or stairs. Examples of how to perform these exercises are readily available through a Google or YouTube search.

I hope that these basic points are enough to get you started in the right direction. I look forward to offering advice and insight on fitness in the coming issues. To end this initial column, I am going to share one of the best pieces of advice that was ever shared with me: “sometimes in life the only thing that you can control is how fit you are.” It’s time to take control!

Keep up with the latest news from Wavell Starr on twitter @wavellstarr and “like” his page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheWavellStarrShow

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