starting bonus

Posted on May 22, 2007


invisible barbellsStarting a program to improve your physical health can be intimidating, so much so that some people never do it, feeling vaguely, uncomfortably guilty their entire lives. You’re to be congratulated for the steps you’re taking, including reading this blog (we’re not sure it’s doing you any good, but it makes our hearts stronger!). Now I’m going to tell you some good news.

There’s a payoff.

Beginners at any physical routine burn more calories performing those moves than experts do and experience more strength gains. People just beginning to improve their diets have immediate health gains that are larger than those enjoyed by people who already eat relatively healthily who are simply improving on a high baseline.

Would you like some examples to back that up? Here you go:

  • It’s common for overweight people going from an unhealthy high-fat, high-calorie diet to something more balanced to experience a weight loss of up to ten pounds in the first week. That’s mostly water weight, but it’s a helluva motivator and something that doesn’t come back as long as you maintain the nutritional improvements. After that first week weight loss slows down to a healthy maximum of no more than 2 pounds per week.
  • People who have been deficient in vitamins and minerals can begin to correct that immediately; changes in diet result in greater nutrient content in the blood within minutes, and the percentage nutrient gain is much larger than mostly-healthy people simply improving a fairly good diet.
  • According to a year-long fitness study from Oregon State University, the least fit 25% of participants had the most strength gain, up to 500% greater improvement than advanced exercisers.
  • Can’t lay my hand on the study at the moment, but it has been proven that beginners use more calories over a mile-long run than experienced runners, in part because they tend to make extraneous movements. Think of how smoothly an expert cyclist moves, and compare that to someone who’s just learning to ride: there are a lot more stops, starts, wobbles, and wasted energy in the beginner’s experience. All of that burns calories.

So go ahead and do something you’ve never done before.

Dare to be bad at it.

Beginner’s mind is an asset; Beginner’s body is a bonus!

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