7 Signs That You Are Seriously Out of Shape
In case you haven’t heard, being skinny and being in shape are NOT the same thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trained thin, presumably healthy people who have thrown up in introductory, slow-paced workouts vs. the amount of overweight people who push themselves through rigorous circuits, and never get sick.
Here’s what you need to know
- Envying skinny or thin people is a thing of the past. If you like the idea of being frail and weak, that’s your prerogative, but media and popular culture are finally wising up and making “strong” the new “skinny” when it comes to desirable bodies.
- You should have some kind of cardiovascular threshold to work with. If walking down the street or up a flight of stairs gets you winded, you need to check yourself immediately.
- Suffering from constant aches, pains, pulls, and general exhaustion are signs that you are getting out of shape.
- You need to have a base of functional strength to make everyday, normal-person tasks easier. Think of things like hauling your own groceries without a cart, taking out a heavy garbage bag, moving furniture, or picking up your kids.
- If you constantly crave crappy foods your gut and hormones are off, and the chances are that you are already out of shape, and swiftly marching your way toward obesity.
Why We Are so Out of Shape
Like I said, being in shape isn’t what it used to be, and in the US, finding people who are actually in shape is becoming more of a rare thing. Even with the digital proliferation of fitness trends like fun runs, obstacle courses, kettlebell training, home workouts, calisthenics, yoga, gymnastics, Crossfit, parkour, Les Mills, Beach Body, and pilates, obesity rates are skyrocketing.
How can that be possible?
I think several different social and cultural factors are affecting our weight, but let’s just touch on a few of the major ones.
- Technology and social media
- Stress and the workplace
- Throwing yourself into trends or habits that aren’t sustainable, or that you don’t really enjoy
- Fast food and convenience eating
And the list goes on and on. Most of the time when it comes to adopting health conscious decisions into our lives, we tend to fling ourselves into a new fitness program and diet that consume a ton of our time and require a lot of radical changes from what we are used to.
That’s why the failure rate for anyone who adopts a new diet or exercise plan into their life hangs around 99.9%.
Almost everyone gives up on their health ambitions and goals after the first 8-12 weeks.
Oh well! There’s always next year.
Do You Think You May Fall into these Out of Shape Categories?
If any of this sounds familiar to you, the chances are you have already had some tell-tale signs that you are getting out of shape.
When was the last time you went for a jog, played some ball, went to the gym after work, played with your kids in the yard, helped your buddies move furniture, or even took a walk around the neighborhood?
If you have noticed that the weight has been creeping on, your pants are getting a little tighter, and your not as limber and athletic as you used to be, I am super thankful that you are reading this article.
Those are some more obvious ways that you put your health aside, but just in case you think that those skinny genes are going to save you from getting fat and out of shape, think again.
Your bad habits WILL catch up to you. It’s only a matter of time…
Here are some of the sneakier (and more obvious) signs that you are slowly or quickly getting out of shape.
*Worried about gaining weight and getting out of shape? Get my Ultimate Fat Loss Checklist here.
1) You Get Winded Easily
If you are having a little trouble catching your breath after walking up a quick flight of stairs, that’s one of the first signs that you are starting to lose your healthy mojo. I noticed recently while walking up a short, medium-grade hill with a friend of mine that they were getting winded as we were strolling to the top.
Not pushing the pace. Literally, just strolling.
As I said before, doesn’t matter if you are skinny or overweight. If you get winded walking up a small hill or a short flight of stairs, it’s time to start considering some kind of exercise program before your heart and lungs give out on you. Poor cardiovascular health puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and a slew of other health problems that you don’t want.
2) You are constantly exhausted
Chronic exhaustion is another true sign that you are getting out of shape. Sitting at a desk all day can wear you out because of the stresses at work, little to no sunshine, and virtually no movement during the day.
I’m not trying to say that you need a Fitbit or an app that is telling you to get up and walk 250 steps every hour, but you need to build some sort of movement into your routine so that you can wake up your cramping hips, weak low back, and get some blood flow to your legs.
Bottom line: if you feel like you are fatigued all the time but aren’t making a habit about doing any sort of exercise or extracurricular physical activity, you should consider starting some kind of program. Even if it’s walking 30 minutes at night or in the morning, that will help you get back into shape and overcome your waning energy levels.
3) You are frequently stressed
Another sign that you could be getting out of shape is if you are finding that you are constantly stressed or worried. If you have trouble being in the moment, and are only worrying about the fears of tomorrow, next week, or even this coming afternoon, it’s time to take a look at your activity levels.
Did you realize that can combat frequent stress with exercise? When you exercise your body produces stress reducing hormones and natural painkillers that will help lower your stress and make you happier!
Meditating or blocking out set times in your day to relax and clear your mind are other great strategies for combating stress. You don’t need an hour per day to see results. As little as 10-20 minutes 1-2 times per day will make all the difference.
4) You are getting a belly or love handles
This is a fairly standard sign you are slowly or quickly getting out of shape. How many times have you seen an old friend from high school, college, or work gain 20-50 pounds since the last time that you saw them…2-3 years ago!
Getting a belly or love handles is usually caused by a few different things…
- Eating poorly and overeating
Maybe your belly or sides have started creeping out over your belt or your waistline in the last few months or gradually over the last few years. You have to make the change to fix one or all of the factors mentioned above to make that gut disappear.
5) You get injured easily or suffer from chronic aches, pains, pulls, and strains
This is a less obvious, and extremely painful sign that you are out of shape. Just to give you a visual of how chronic or frequent pain starts, let’s take a look at the posture that commonly produces these nagging strains.
Most of us work from a desk or seated position for 8-10+ hours per day. As active as I usually am, I typically spend 50 hours per week sitting in the kitchen or at a coffee shop working.
So what does all that sitting do to your posture?
- Pulls your shoulders forward, tightening your chest muscles and anterior deltoids
- Weakens your hips, low back, and abs.
- Loosens the muscle groups in your back and the posterior region of your shoulders.
Sitting for most of the hours of our waking day is causing us a lot of postural damage. This leads to the lengthening, tightening, and imbalance of muscle groups and sides which will inevitably lead to the aches, pains, and pulls that you may already be feeling. If your muscles aren’t at the proper length, your bones and joints will, in a way, start repositioning themselves to adapt to your most common physical state.
Why do you think it is so common that workers who sit for a living suffer from chronic low back pain?
6) You Crave Crappy Foods
On the surface, it makes sense that the more crappy food you eat, the more you get a taste for it. Unfortunately, this issue goes much deeper than conditioning your palette to want Taco Bell and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Your gut is full of bacteria that aids in digestion by getting you all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need from food. When you eat processed starches and sugars, your body starts to develop obesogenic bacteria which makes you crave those crappy foods. They will also make you feel deprived or depressed if those cravings aren’t satisfied.
These bacteria are going to make you more prone to gaining fat and clinging to it, AND increase your chances of becoming overweight and obese.
The good news is that there is a fairly simple and straightforward way to get rid of those nasty, craving-causing bacteria. Starve them.
By feeding your body real foods like proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds you will starve and eliminate those nasty gut bacteria, and foster the growth of healthy bacteria.
7) Struggling to Lift and Carry
I think that most people view “out of shape” as someone who is pudgy and has no endurance for simple tasks like taking the stairs. Most people are right in those regards, but most people wouldn’t say “a lack of functional strength” is even in the top 5 characteristics of someone who is out of shape.
Personally, I would put functional strength in the top 3 indicators of whether someone is relatively in shape, or out of shape. Here’s why…
If you struggle with routine physical tasks like carrying all of your groceries to the car, hauling a laundry basket downstairs, taking out a heavy trash bag, moving furniture, picking up your kids shoveling snow, pushing a wheelbarrow, dragging 100 pounds of mulch, piggy-backing a friend, or flipping your mattress, I think you are in SERIOUS danger of being out of shape.
Strength is about being capable and independent. The most important lift you can do is picking yourself up off the ground when you fall or get knocked over, AND being able to get to safety.
Basic Ways to Get Back into Shape
If you read this and think that you might be seriously out of shape, the good news is that it doesn’t take that much to get back into shape!
Here are some simple ways that you can start.
- Take the stairs: The more often you climb them the easier it will get. Climbing enough stairs in a day is an awesome cardiovascular workout, and helps build strength in your legs.
- Park at the back: One thing that I’ve started doing recently is parking at the back of parking lots. I do this for a few reasons which include avoiding fighting for a close parking space, keeping my car safer from door dings and dents, and adding more steps to my day.
- Relax for 10-20 minutes per day: One of the best ways to reduce stress, get in better shape, and lose belly fat is to practice relaxation. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Give it a shot!
- Stretch your legs! Get up from your desk and stretch or take a little walk every 1-2 hours. I understand when you are in the zone and you want to keep going, but see if you can stand up from your desk to stretch or walk for 5-10 minutes, every 1-2 hours.
- Make small, healthy changes to your diet. Pick one thing that you can do to eat healthier and keep it simple. You’ll be blown away by the power that one habit has. Habits I often recommend are
- Start lifting things and get stronger: Whether it’s doing a little work around the house, rearranging your furniture, doing the yard work you’ve been putting off, or challenging yourself to lift and haul all of your groceries from the store to your car, without help from a cart, every small thing counts. Lifting weights or doing some bodyweight workouts around the house.
RELATED: Check out these simple weight lifting programs that will help you lose torch fat and get into shape.
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