In fitness, as in war, you want to be on the offensive, not the defensive and this means that rather than reacting to maladies as they occur, far better to be in good general physical condition; preventive maintenance is preferable to remedial effort every time. One general rule of thumb I use is energy is the basic coin of the fitness realm and without it is damned difficult to mount any kind of serious fitness effort. To obtain energy to power through workouts is the first order of business: if you are tired all the time, exhausted by life and unable to get it together physically or psychologically, I would suggest two immediate lifestyle changes — cut back on the amount of food and begin walking every morning. Overeating is an energy-sapping culprit. Too many calories, particularly the wrong kind, the type that cause insulin to spike or the type of nutrient that converts easily to body fat, will drain energy faster then leaving the car door open all night and keeping the lights on. Early morning walking, particularly done out of doors, is invigorating. Plus early AM power walking elevates the basal metabolic rate. The rate at which the body oxidizes calories is kicked up by cardio in general and most particularly by cardio done on an empty stomach. Another trick of the trade is to have a cup of coffee or a caffeine-laced tea before the cardio walk. Caffeine on an empty stomach taken in combination with exercise accelerates the mobilization of trans-fatty acids. After an all-night sleep/fast the body is low on glycogen, the emulsified form of carbohydrate, when aerobic activity is performed the body will burned stored body fat to fuel the cardio activity. If you ever travel to a hardcore bodybuilding gym early in the morning you’ll see all the hulking bodybuilders performing cardio. They are there to take advantage of this particular physiological anomaly and burn off body fat via pre-breakfast cardio. In addition, hitting an aerobic-style exercise session before breakfast elevates to metabolism for hours after the conclusion of the session and elevating the heart rate in a systematic fashion improves heart and lung functionality and food digestion. Perhaps the strongest rationale for early morning cardio is that by doing it 1st thing it GETS DONE! Life has a way of throwing obstacles galore in our path as the day’s events unfold and by hitting a walk around the neighborhood 1st thing, daily events and cumulative fatigue will not derail the session. Start with a comfortable walk at a comfortable pace and add one minute per session. If you power walk five times a week and start off with a 10-minute session, at the end of a month the session will be up to 30-minutes. At that point, 30 minutes five times weekly, keep the frequency and the duration and consciously seek to increase the intensity, i.e. walk faster. This creeping incrementalism eases you into the game. In conjunction with the walking, cut back on the caloric intake. After calories are reduced, clean up the food selection. Again all this flows together in a loose momentum building effort. More walking, early morning walking, fewer calories, better selection.your energy will skyrocket and the effort will unfold in a sane rational fashion. After a month or two, add in some progressive resistance training and you’ll be shot from a proverbial fitness cannon. The nice summer weather makes early outdoor walking a joyful experience and when we truly enjoy an activity we seek to repeat it — this melding of enthusiasm with exercise is the long-term secret to fitness success.
About the Author: Marty Gallagher is a former Strength columnist for washingtonpost.com. Marty’s articles have been featured in Muscle Media, Muscle & Fitness, and Powerlifting USA magazines. His website, http://www.martygallagher.com, assimilates years of accumulated knowledge from the athletic elite and makes them accessible to the common person.