Contributor: Lorena Drago MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES
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If someone had told me in 2019 that I would look forward to working out every day, I would have thought they were inebriated.
COVID-19 upended our lives, but it also eliminated my awfully long work commute. I was also faced with closed gyms and canceled workout classes. I had to find alternatives to keep moving, and one friend mentioned a YouTube walking class. Walking at home? It piqued my curiosity, and the next day, I typed walking exercise in the YouTube search box, and in a few seconds, I was rewarded with a plethora of walking workout videos. And that was the genesis of my YouTube exercise routine. A few months later, I am still enjoying my workouts and reaping the benefits. I am stronger and more agile. There was never a time when I regretted engaging in physical activity, but I have regretted not moving enough.
Remember the three Es: The word exercise has three "Es."
- For me, the first E is about enjoyment. Choose exercises you find enjoyable. If I am not enjoying the activity, it isn't easy to make it part of my life. Exercise is something I do to celebrate what my body can do, not as a punishment for what I ate.
- The second E is engagement. I need to be fully engaged in the physical activity. I like to have fun, which is why I have a hard time on the treadmill. I don't feel engaged.
- The last E in exercise is energy. I feel energized after any type of physical activity.
When is the best time to exercise?
Before COVID, my priority was getting to work on time. Exercise was relegated to evenings and weekends. Working from home gave me the chance to work out in the morning, and that was my sweet spot. When I scheduled my workouts in the afternoon, I was not consistent because my afternoon energy level was low most of the time. To prepare myself to embrace exercise every morning, I set up my workout clothes the night before. The best time of the day to work out is when you can carve out time, and you can do it consistently. Consistency is key.
Here are my favorite YouTube exercise videos:
Here is my journey, and here are the instructors who have challenged me (yes, even when I'm yelling expletives at the screen), entertained me, soothed me, and showed me that exercise can be engaging, enjoyable, and energizing.
- Let the walking begin - Walking is the least intimidating of all the exercises, and that is because we already do it. Hello, Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone. At first, I thought I could never raise my heart rate over 100, but this was not the case. Leslie will make your walking experience memorable with a combination of fast-paced walking, arm movements, abduction exercises, and a dose of encouragement. If you only have 15 minutes to spare, Leslie has a short session for you. Do you want to go for a two-mile 30-minute walk? She has a class for you as well. Aerobic activity will allow you to burn calories during the duration of the exercise. She helps you keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone. https://www.youtube.com/user/walkathomemedia
- I love dancing: Do you? - I have been dancing since I was a child. I am drawn to Latin rhythms, and Latin Zumba is my jam. Abdel Baila Baila is a Cuban dancer and choreographer who is fun, and if you are a beginner, he teaches you how to dance salsa and bachata. He plays Latin rhythms such as salsa, merengue, cha-cha, reggaeton, and bachata. If Latin rhythms call you, Abdel is your instructor. He peppers his classes with a dose of humor in Spanish, but music is universal. Abdel is now offering paid classes, but there are many recorded sessions on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/user/abdel0982
- Start your morning on the right foot - Susan Day Dance Fitness is a Florida-based Zumba instructor who offers a 1-hour live class every morning around 8:45 AM from Monday through Saturday. She dances with a group of Zumba enthusiasts who have mastered the choreography and inject the class with energy. Don’t let that intimidate you. After a while, I can guarantee you that you will learn and follow along. Her routine is light, uncomplicated, and energizing. She combines Latin music, pop, disco, soft rock, contemporary, and others. You will have fun. https://www.youtube.com/c/SusanDayDanceFitness/featured
- A smorgasbord of exercise classes, choose your favorite - Popsugar Fitness has an extensive menu of different types of exercise. Just type Popsugar fitness on the YouTube search box and add whatever type of exercise interests you, and I can guarantee you will find it. I typed Popsugar fitness kickboxing and found a 45-minute challenging killer workout with Jeannette Jenkins. Popsugar fitness recognizes that we are not all at the same fitness level, so most classes demonstrate the advanced, regular, and modified version. Are you looking for something different? Try Bollywood, which I found fun to learn! Have you heard of plyometrics? It is an exercise that involves repeated stretching and contracting of muscles involving jumping and rebounding. I tried but did not enjoy it, and that was fine because there are many others choices. Explore and identify your favorites. Low impact? Total body conditioning? Just type away, preview them, and try them. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=popsugar+fitness
- Don't forget weight training: Your muscles will love you, and you will love how nimble you will become! - Caroline Girvan. She's the goddess - a 36-year-old Rockstar. Get ready to be challenged. Gloriously free, Catherine is the creator of the Epic Challenge 1, 2, and 3. And she will challenge you. Weight training is crucial for women and men. When we age, we lose bone mass. We also need to maintain our muscle mass to allow us to continue performing the activities of daily life. Have you squatted to get that pan under the sink and struggled to get up? What happens when you kneel? Do your knees sound like popcorn popping? If a pen rolls under your desk, do you leave it there because getting on your knees takes too much effort? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you need to challenge those muscles. A sports nutrition expert recommends that women living in larger bodies start with weight-bearing exercises before considering cardio. Why? Because you will become stronger, and this will make cardio much easier. Listen to your muscles; they are talking. They want to remain strong. Caroline offers high-intensity interval training (or HIIT). HIIT training burns calories in a short amount of time, and your metabolic rate remains high after you have finished working out. Caroline uses weights. Before purchasing dumbbells, I used jugs of water, water bottles, and bags of cans. Start slowly, and you will see the difference in just one month. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpis3RcTw6t47XO0R_KY4WQ
- Do you know how to breathe? - Yoga with Adriene is one of my favorites. With almost 10 million subscribers, Adriene is extraordinary. Yoga to start your day, end your day, fire you, or calm you - she has a workout for you. She has an array of videos ranging from 12 minutes to one hour. You can fit your yoga routine at any time. Grab your mat, make your selection, and enjoy her soothing voice and guidance. https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
- There is something for that special man in your life - I discovered Fit Father Project – Fitness for Busy Fathers when I had a sore knee. I wanted to continue weight training, and I needed to listen to my body and find exercises for my bad knee. I discovered physical therapist Dr. Anthony and his amazingly effective yet knee-gentle exercises. He also has a session titled “How to quiet your mind and feel at peace.” This is great to quiet my monkey-brain. Although this channel is aimed at men, I am sure you can find some classes invaluable. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKvJ_vxZZoN5yeWBU2CVGcQ
Since I can’t work out after eating, I usually exercise before I eat. It appears that doing cardio while fasting may burn about 20% more fat than working out after eating. Other studies found no difference. What should you do? Check your blood glucose before and after your exercise. Make sure you hydrate before and after. Let your body be your guide, and check with your diabetes team. Exercise should challenge you, but it should not be painful. You may need to modify if you have arthritis or have suffered injuries. For example, I don’t jump. My podiatrist recommended I stay on my knees instead, and this works well. Mix up your exercise routine, and don’t forget to allow your body to heal and rest. Enjoy the three “Es” of exercise.
Lorena Drago MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES is a multi-cultural nutrition education expert, specializing in the multicultural aspects of diabetes self-management education. She is an expert in developing culturally and ethnically-oriented nutrition and diabetes education materials. Lorena serves on the DiabetesSisters faculty as part of our Minority Initiative Program. Find her at online at https://lorenadrago.com/diabetes-counseling/, and on Facebook, Twitter @lorenadrago and Instagram @lorenadragomsrd.