How To Make Exercise Empowering When You Are Obese

Body Positivity, Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset, Training Advice, Training Tips

By: Kim Pieper, CPT // March 8, 2019

If you are obese or overweight, exercise can be a tricky topic. Often, working out with extra weight becomes a vicious, negative cycle. Excess body weight puts stress on your joints, bones, and connective tissue, making many workouts too uncomfortable or even impossible to do. In addition, the extra weight makes you work harder than an average-sized person; so while both of you are doing the same jumping jacks, you’re breathing harder and sweat is pouring out. All of this might turn you off to exercise, make you become even more sedentary, and consider it easier to stay stuck where you are. And so the vicious cycle continues. So what should you do? How can you make exercise empowering when you are obese?


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    Start With Positive Motivation

    Obesity—or having excessive body fat—is not a simple cosmetic issue. That fat also surrounds your internal organs,  increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other health concerns. But chances are, you already know that. You don’t need another lecture about the health dangers of being overweight; you need positive motivation to make healthier choices for your own peace of mind. You don’t need societal pressure shaming you into submission—which never works, by the way. You need to feel embraced and loved for who you are right now, while being reminded that you are worthy of putting your health first. You need to get un-stuck. You need motivation to finally lose the weight and keep it off. And you’ve come to the right place. This article is written to:

    • EMPOWER you to get off your chair and move
    • ENCOURAGE you to step outside your comfort zone
    • EMBRACE a full, active life because you love yourself
    Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it. Click to Tweet

    So let’s get to it. Start with the positive mindset that you deserve to be healthy. Exercise is not a punishment, it’s a privilege. Let’s learn some tips on how to start an exercise regimen when you’re obese, and then we’ll discuss different workout options that might work for you.

    How To Start Exercising When You’re Obese

    In order to break the sedentary lifestyle cycle, you have to be brave enough to take that first step. The hardest thing for anyone searching to incorporate fitness into his or her life is just getting started. What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are some tips that have helped many other people who were once in your shoes:

    1. Schedule It

    Get your workouts on the calendar and set a reminder. It seems so simple but this might be the most important thing you do. This is now part of your day, not an optional addendum. It’s who you are. You are “fit person” not a “fat person,” and fit people make exercise a priority. Consider your workouts appointments you cannot miss.

    2. Make A Plan

    Simple, achievable goals are the only goals consistently met. “Today I will walk around the block.” Or “Today I will spend 10 minutes on the stationary bike.” Smaller is better! Once you’ve met your small goal for the week, you can add just little more to it. Write your goals for the week down and put them where you’ll see them. Check-lists are good therapy!

    3. Tell Someone Else

    Accountability does wonders. Choose someone you trust and let them know your plan. Ask them to check in on you and see how it went. Better yet, have them join you!  Don’t have anyone you trust? Join our private facebook group. You’ll find people at all different places in their fitness journey, but everyone will encourage you to keep going forward!

    4. Get Equipped

    The shoes matter more than the clothes. Find shoes that fit and support your workout. If you’re going to spend any money on this new venture, put it into your shoes. Then, make sure to get some comfy clothing that supports your movement. YES many people squeeze into tight leggings and form-fitting tanks. NO you don’t have to in order to be a success. Wear what makes you comfortable.

    Related: 13 Best Brands For Plus-Sized Workout Clothing

    5. Start Slow

    The goal is to start exercising little by little, not overdo it and end up frustrated or burnt out right away. Biting off more than they can chew is a common mistake people make when beginning an exercise regimen. Gentle, easy exercise is definitely the way to go! Just as not doing it becomes a cycle, doing simple and easy workouts will lead to success and soon you’ll be craving a little more and a little more. Before you know it you surprise yourself with things you never imagined you could do. Please also check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

    The Best Ways To Work Out When You Are Obese

    Use these tips to get started exercising when you're obese.

    The first thing I have to mention is if you are going to make the decision to move your body (yeah you!), you have to also commit to a healthier eating plan. You can’t out-train a bad diet and we have lots of help on this website for you to start your clean eating journey. That being said, exercising when you are overweight or obese can prove to be a monumental challenge. Things that come easy for the averaged-size person might put too much stress on your joints causing knee or hip pain. In addition, things that are easy for an average size person to maneuver like a stationary bike or a BOSU ball may not work with your body size. Let’s take a look at some of the exercise choices that work better for overweight or obese people.

    1. Walking

    The number one choice of doctors, fitness professionals and most average people is simple walking. It’s low impact, easy to do, and accessible to anyone. You don’t need a gym membership or a trainer. Just step outside your door, or look for the nearest mall or grocery store and get some steps in. Remember to start small. Even 2-5 minutes a day for the first week is a good goal. After that, you can add another 2 minutes every third day. Want a walking partner? Not interested in walking in public? Try our GetHealthyU TV Walk & Tone Program. This is a walking workout you can do right in your own home with Chris Freytag smiling, guiding you and encouraging you every step of the way.

    2. Recumbent Bike

    A recumbent bike is another way to avoid putting too much impact on your joints. Of course, the first thing that might come to mind for an obese person (and most other people for that matter) is the obnoxiously small size of the cycle seat. But I’m not talking about a regular upright bike with the small seat. Search out a recumbent bike and take your workout to another angle. The recumbent bike leans back, taking the weight of the body off the rear end and allowing you to move your legs from a reclined position. Your feet are out in front of you which helps with circulation and no impact! In addition, the seats on these bikes are bigger so it won’t feel quite as awkward.

    3. Water Exercise

    Gravity can be a fickle friend when you’re overweight; that brings us to the beauty of aquatic exercise. The water reduces the gravitational load on your body by as much as 90 percent! This makes your joints much happier and allows for an increased range of motion. In addition, the water brings with it a big variety of choices. Water exercise classes abound and can be a fun choice for the social creature in you. Check the nearest gym, rec center or high school to see what might be available. Many communities offer classes at a low cost for residents. Would you rather do it on your own? Water walking or jogging is an excellent choice. Or maybe you have some swimming lessons to resurrect from your past. Swimming puts your whole body to work and allows a sense of freedom under the water that can’t be found anywhere else.

    4. Elliptical Machines

    A large fitness center may not be your number one choice. However, different strokes for different folks and if you aren’t afraid of entering such a facility you have a big advantage. There are a variety of exercise machines that provide a low-impact opportunity to work out. Perhaps the most popular and efficient of these is the elliptical machine. While these machines come in several varieties and all look a little different, they are in essence the same. Your legs and arms move back and forth, getting your heart rate to go up and making for an efficient use of your time. Keep the resistance low to moderate to protect your knees and move at a comfortable, easy pace for some time.

    5. Light Weights

    Strength training is important for people of every size. Building your muscle will help turn your metabolism up and shed some of that excess fat. Using light weights to begin with is all you need to get the ball rolling. Search out some 3 or 5 lb dumbbells and check out these basic strength training moves below. Click below the image for detailed instruction on how to perform them.

    Basic Strength Training Moves

    Glute Bridge

    Try a glute bridge to lose weight.

    Click here to learn how to do a Glute Bridge

    Arnold Press

    Try this exercise if you are obese.

    Click here to learn how to do an Arnold Press.

    Tricep Extension

    Tricep overhead extensions are great for when you want to lose weight.

    Click here to learn how to do a Tricep Extension

    Lateral Shoulder Raise 

    Use these moves to get in shape when you are obese.

    Click here to learn how to do a Lateral Shoulder Raise

    Glute Kicker 

    Try this move if you are overweight and want to get in shape.

    Click here to learn how to do a glute kicker. 

    Single Arm Row 

    Use this exercise to work your upper body

    Click here to learn how to do a single arm row

    Whatever workout you choose, find something you will enjoy. Make the choice that today is the day you will take care of YOU! And embrace whatever comes your way. Make mistakes. Take pride in every accomplishment, no matter how small. Be thankful your body can move—after all, that is what it was designed to do!

    READ THIS NEXT: What I’d Say To My Overweight Self


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