This article was excerpted from The Entrepreneur Diet. Buy it today from EntrepreneurPress.com.
Taking the first steps in something new can be daunting. But almost any action--no matter how small--puts momentum on your side.
While each entrepreneur has a different path to success, everyone starts with that first step forward; you must take action, even without being entirely sure of the outcome. Those who hesitate to take that step, to turn idea into deed, are forever stuck with the status quo--not risking failure but also not finding fortune.
This article is about the first step, about taking action right now, for your health and fitness. This three-prong QuickStart Action Plan targets your muscles, your heart and your nutrition. The plan is based on the same guiding principle that can build a solid company.
"Start with limited capital so you don't stress the heck out of yourself," says 1800GOTJUNK? founder and CEO Brian Scudamore. "I started with a thousand bucks, and if I lost my thousand dollars, it wasn't the end of the world.. Start small, and build the business up over time, and have patience."
That's exactly the secret to eating well and getting fit--start small and build on your successes. So now is the moment to institute healthy habits into your daily routine, easily and in a way that's time efficient. It just takes starting.
At its most basic level, exercise is nothing more than your muscles, bones, and heart working as they were designed so well to do--to move. And even with a crowded schedule, you can work physical activity into your life just about anywhere and with minimal equipment.
If you're at the office, take a 15-minute break in the morning or afternoon to complete this session--and you'll have your first workout under your belt before you go home. If you're at home, take 15 minutes before lunch or dinner to knock out the routine. The movements are unobtrusive--you can think of them as "stealth" exercises.
This first step will serve as a springboard to more fitness and dietary changes in your life. And once you learn these movements, the more challenging habit changes will be easier. But even when you become more advanced, or if you are right now, these simple exercises provide a refreshing break during the day. They can also serve as a fast workout for those inevitable times when your schedule is too hectic for longer workouts.
Still, if you do nothing with this book other than take away these exercises and this chapter's action plan, you'll be doing something powerful for your body and mind.
A note on terminology: A "repetition" or "rep" is one complete movement of a given exercise. A "set" is a given number repetitions done in sequence. Start by doing one set for each exercise--if you feel good, you can add a second set. Do two sessions this week.
CHAIR LEG EXTENSION
Muscles strengthened: Quadriceps (thighs)
Press your tailbone firmly against the back of the chair. If the chair is adjustable, move the height so your thighs are parallel to the ground. Lightly grasp the armrests or the edges of the seat pad. Keeping your back straight and looking straight ahead, slowly extend your right leg with your foot flexed toward your shin. At the top of the movement, your leg should be fully extended, but don't forcefully lock out your knee. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions, then repeat with your left leg (this is one set).
ISOMETRIC HAND PRESS
Muscles strengthened: Biceps, triceps, chest
Sitting upright in your chair, grasp your hands together in front of your chest, and firmly press them together. Make sure you continue to breathe throughout the exercise. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax for 10 seconds, then repeat four more times.
Muscles strengthened: Chest, triceps, shoulders
Stand about three feet from a wall, and place your hands flush against the wall, about shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your body toward the wall by flexing your elbows. When your elbows are aligned with your torso, push back up. Do 10 repetitions. Make this exercise more challenging by using your desk: Stand several feet away and position your hands on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width apart. Then repeat the raising and lowering of your body by flexing your elbows.
Muscles strengthened: Shoulders
Sitting upright in your chair, flex your elbows so that your left hand is in front of your left shoulder, and your right hand is in front of your right shoulder. Your elbows should be slightly flared out to the sides, just below shoulder-level. Lightly clench your fists with palms facing forward. Next, fully extend your elbows without locking them out, with your hands moving toward the center over your head. Slowly return to the starting position. Complete 10 reps. To make the exercise more difficult, use a book to press overhead.
Muscles strengthened: Mid-section
Sit upright on the edge of your chair, grasping the arm rests or the edges of the seat pad. You can also stand with your hands on your hips, feet shoulder-width apart. Next, pull your stomach up and in as far as possible--think of pulling your belly button toward your spine. Hold that position for the count of five to ten, then release. Do 5 to 8 repetitions.
Muscles stretched: Back and sides
Sit at the edge of your chair with your back straight, and interlace your fingers with your palms facing away from you. Reach your arms straight above your head, then lean to the left from the waist and hold. Next lean to the right and hold.
Muscles stretched: Upper back
Sit upright and bring your right arm across your upper body at about shoulder level. Your elbow should be slightly flexed. With your left hand, grasp under your right arm just above the elbow. Gently pull your right arm across your chest, toward the left, and hold. Don't shrug your shoulders--keep them relaxed. Repeat with your left arm across your upper body.
Muscles stretched: Neck
Sit or stand with your head upright. Slowly turn your head to the right as far as comfortably possible and hold, then turn slowly to the left and hold. Next, let your head fall gently toward your chest and hold. Avoid tilting your head backward--it weighs about 10 pounds, so this can put too much stress on your upper spine.
When doing these exercises and stretches, keep these tips in mind:
- Don't hold your breath. Keep breathing normally during each exercise; holding your breath can spike your blood pressure.
- Keep your spine in its "neutral position." To find this position, lie on your back and arch your lower back (this is called extension). Then round the lower back (flexion). The neutral position is midway between these extremes.
- Move in a slow and controlled manner. This will help avoid injury and maintain good tension in your muscles.
- Hold stretches for 15 to 30 seconds. This will allow your muscles to adjust to the increased range of motion.
- Don't bounce. This could cause a muscle to spontaneously tighten because its defense mechanism is trying to protect it from overstretching. Not only does this defeat the purpose of stretching, but it could cause a strain.
Chair leg extension
10 each side
Isometric hand press