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Fitness for the New Year

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If you’re like many Americans, after the holidays you stare at your waistline, regretting all the extra weight you put on eating all that delicious, but really bad for you, holiday food. No worries, we’re here to help!

We’re not without our biases; we’re committed cyclists and we believe that cycling is a great way to improve your fitness (plus we run a bike shop). Here’s how to get started:

  1. Assess your current fitness level. When in doubt consult your physician to make sure you’re OK to begin a fitness regimen.
  2. Do you already own a bike? If so, you’re halfway there. Pull it out of the garage (or wherever else you’ve left it to gather dust), and bring it down to us (The Bike Palace – 1600 S Pacific Ave, San Pedro). We’ll check it out to make sure that it’s safe and fit for the road. It’s like going to an auto mechanic—we’ll check it out for free, even setting the saddle at the correct height for you. If the bike needs work, we’ll make recommendations. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more qualified mechanics than we have, and our service charges are very reasonable.
  3. Start off slowly. No need to get burned out or hurt yourself by overdoing it. If you’ve spent years living a sedentary lifestyle, don’t try to change yourself overnight. This will only lead to failure. Be patient. This will pay off in the long run. Slow and steady wins the race. You’ll find it a lot more enjoyable along the way, plus you’ll reduce the chance that you’ll “fall off the wagon” and bounce back (which is quite common with extreme diet and workout plans).
  4. Be more active. Cycling can be lots of fun, great for you, and even practical (commute to work). It can also save you money. Why pay $40 a month (or more) to a gym, when you can get out in the fresh air and ride a bike? Take a walk (see, we’re not prejudiced), spend more time doing yard work (my wife would love for that to happen). Turn off the TV one night a week, and get the family to do something active.
  5. Measure your progress. Weigh yourself, ideally using a scale that also measures your body fat percentage, such as a Tanita. The Tanita UM-081 Body Fat/Body Water Monitor is reasonably priced ($45) and will do a great job measuring your progress. You’ll also want to track your blood pressure. Omron products are good and reasonably affordable. Their upper arm blood pressure monitors are a good value.
  6. Improve your diet.
    1. Do MORE of the following:
      1. Drink more water, especially as you increase your workouts.
      2. Eat more fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts). Also: kale, kale, kale (raw is OK, slightly steamed even better).
      3. Eat more slowly. Chew your food completely. This gives your body a chance to realize that it’s getting full. Rushed meals will often result in your eating too much.
      4. Look at product labels before you buy food in the market. Through some trial and error (and maybe some change in your tastes) you’ll find that some items that are better for you taste quite good.
    2. Do LESS of the following:
      1. Drop the diet sodas.
      2. Cut back on the low-fiber carbs (white bread, most pasta, candy).
      3. Reduce your sodium intake (perhaps by a lot, depending on your current intake). Most Americans are finding this difficult. Try slowly reducing your intake:
        1. Stop adding salt to your food.
        2. Try reduced sodium versions of your current favorites (nuts, chips, etc.)
        3. Watch the processed foods, fast foods, and dinner out. These can all have outrageous amounts of sodium in their servings.
        4. Reduce your dependence on fast foods, or even eating out (the portions are too large and tend to be chock full of sodium).
    3. Join in local bike rides. Check out our online list of local rides. You’ll find our local riders very friendly (just say that Bob from The Bike Palace sent you).

    It’s very hard to take on all these changes all at the same time. Many of us, myself included, do not follow all this advice to the letter. I’m reducing my salt, but I have not dramatically reduced it. I’m moving in that direction, however. Progress is good.

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