Once You Start This Habit, Don’t Stop

Take your health into your own hands. This time it’s with dumbbells in your hands, even if you have never been to the gym. Here’s why.

When you are on the rollercoaster of life, one of the significant drops is muscle mass.
No, really. When you look at a chart of muscle mass for an average individual, there’s a substantial drop, starting at 40, that just keeps going down.
Check out the chart below:

In the chart, it talks about quality of life and the disability threshold. This peak is affected by how much strength and muscle individuals have. Both men and women are affected by this drop. That drop is even more significant for women, compared to men. But, I’m here to tell you there is good news. The rate of the decline can be influenced by changing some lifestyle habits.

My lifestyle habits significantly shifted during the first year of the pandemic. I stopped going to the gym and my muscle mass significantly decreased. Decreased, so much so, that I lost 10 pounds. Not the kind of pounds I wanted to lose. I felt tired and weak. Thankfully, I got myself back to working out and I changed the direction of my rollercoaster. I changed my lifestyle habits and you can too!

Lifestyle habits to make a positive influence:

(good option) Avoid smoking/alcohol
(good option) Balanced diet
(BEST option) Resistance training

As you can see, there is one option that is the best option. It’s called resistance training, also known as, going to the gym and pumping some iron. Resistance training increases muscle strength by having your muscles work against a weight or a force (with there being weight and force involved, be sure to ask me or your trusted chiropractor what movements are best and safe for you).
This may sound daunting, especially if you’ve never stepped foot into a gym. Most people think, “Everyone is staring at me,” or “Where do I begin?” I know I had those same experiences. Instead, let’s start slow. It’s never too late to start but once you start, don’t stop.

Bodyweight Exercises

I usually recommend starting with bodyweight exercises anyway before lifting weights. Your body weight can be the weight necessary at first. Start by doing body weight exercises just in your home or backyard three times a week. Examples of body weight exercises are squats, calf raises, lunges, situps, pushups, dips, planks, and step-ups.
Starting with bodyweight exercises will help you gain confidence in yourself, get you acquainted with muscle soreness that comes with working out, and it’ll help you build foundational strength that is necessary for healthy movement patterns.

Machine stations

Once you get into a habit of bodyweight exercises and your confidence is up, it’s time to add in some machines. This could mean getting your gym membership. I would encourage you to start just by going to the gym and doing your bodyweight exercises there. You won’t be asking yourself, “Where do I begin?” because you’ve already mastered a bodyweight routine at home. Do your body weight routine for three weeks at the gym and then start adding in the machine stations.
Machine stations are individual chairs scattered all around the gym floor. You get your own space and the machine guides you through each exercise. They even have a little image and directions box, guiding you through each machine. Try one, one day. Then try two the next. Don’t be shy about watching other people move through the exercises to learn from them. Sometimes, watching is the best way to learn.

Dabble in the Dumbbells

Start with 5 pound weights first when trying new exercises. My favorite dumbbell exercises are shoulder press, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell lateral raises, dumbbell fly, and dumbbell goblet squat. Once you feel confident through those movements with 5 pounds, move up to your comfort level. I like 3 sets of 8 repetitions for all workouts.
If you have any questions about how to do those types of movements ask me or one of my trusted websites is bodybuilding.com

Here’s a few final tips to get you started:

Find an accountability partner to work out with. When you have someone to chat with between exercises, you forget that other people are there at the gym with you.
Listen to a podcast or your favorite “pump up” music to keep you distracted and energized. With podcasts, murder mysteries seem to be captivating.
If you are still feeling unsure about stepping into a gym, well, home gyms are all the rage anyway. Grab a couple dumbbells off Facebook marketplace or your local Goodwill and voila!
If home gym isn’t for you either, well I know a lot of personal trainers and health coaches that I can refer you to.

For the people that love research, here’s the articles I’ve referenced: