I have never exercised except in grade school when I played volley ball. I am not fat 5'8 and 140 lbs, but I have no muscle tone at all, I am completely flabby. To make things worse I have no cardio stamina, I find it difficult to run a few blocks.

I have tried to do things like squats and such, but have weak knees and legs that shake only a few reps in. I have a toddler and would very much like to enjoy activities with her, but I am lathargic all the time.

I want to change this, but am unsure the best way to go about it. My biggest goals are to build cardio and get rid of the flab. I have thought of trying to run at least 15 maybe only 10 min a day to increase stamina, and maybe yoga to help with toning as this is easier on my legs pain wise than lunges.

Does anyone think this is a good plan?

  • 3
    Age makes a huge difference. – Dave Aug 3 '11 at 0:07
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    Diet also plays a big role in energy level. – Chris Pietschmann Aug 3 '11 at 0:46
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    Good Question, Describe it little more, Please mention your age here, nature of job you are doing also ask what should be dieting plan for veg/non-veg in this situation(Starting exercise at your age and never before and having no muscle ton at all). – Vaibhav Jani Aug 3 '11 at 4:06

The biggest concern with any exercise program is finding something you want to stick to. Some of that is motivation, but a big part is what motivates you. Depending on your age, you may want to talk to your doctor first (typically for people 40 and over). You mentioned doing squats, are they body weight squats? If not, I fear you may be trying to start with too much weight. So here are the basic principles to get you started:

  • Find something you enjoy. I enjoy weightlifting and martial arts. Those might not appeal to you, but do you like swimming, hiking, sports, dancing, etc.? The more you enjoy something the longer you will stick with it, and the more motivated you will be. For example, my wife thoroughly enjoys Zumba which is an aerobic dance class.

  • Define your goals. A good goal is something you can measure. If you like weightlifting, a good goal would be doing a certain lift with X amount of weight on the bar. If you like swimming, your first goal might be to get a full lap without stopping. Once you can do a few laps you might have time related goals (a lap within X seconds). You'll adjust these goals each time you reach them.

  • Concentrate on your core. No matter what you do for exercise, your core is very important. Always add some exercises to strengthen your core. You can even get creative. You mentioned having a toddler. You can find ways of activating your abs and working your core while playing with your child. The key is to be active with the child.

  • Choose to be active more often. Your body will adapt to what you tell it to do (within reason). If you tell it to sit in front of a TV or computer all the time, it will adapt to that level of "fitness". If you tell it to get up and walk around, be outside, etc. more then it will respond to make that easier. The key is to be progressive in your approach. You might not be able to handle a 10 minute run just yet. You can take a stroll with your toddler in stroller for 10-15 minutes a day just to get used to the discipline of moving. Then add a little speed to your stroll. And a little more. Eventually you will be jogging and then running. The toddler will be OK as long as they are engaged somehow. Sometimes just talking to them is enough.

Any amount of activity will help firm up your body's muscle tone. However, fat is burned in the kitchen. If you are increasing your activity, you will be burning more Calories. However, it may be tempting to overcompensate with your food. You will be hungry after being active, just try to pick healthy things to eat afterwards.


Yea! It is always great to hear of someone who is committed to getting back in shape. Walking and yoga will get you off to a great start. Here are some additional thoughts.

  1. Check with your doctor before starting on an exercise program and you will have better success. Your doctor may help you identify the cause of lethargy - inadequate rest with a toddler springs to mind, but your doctor can rule out other possible causes. Also ask for a healthy diet to follow. Diet can make a big difference in how you feel.

  2. Start walking. A pedometer will keep you motivated. Goal: 10,000 steps/day. You need to prepare all your joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cardiovascular system to get ready for more aggressive exercise like running. If you try to start off with running on weak knees, you may end up sidelined with an injury. Walking should not aggravate your knees. If you can push your toddler in a stroller that is even better.

    Just make sure that you are walking in your target heart rate zone. Goal Intensity: Moderate intensity would range from 55% to 75% or your max heart rate, or at a level of exertion of 12 to 16 (somewhat hard to hard at a steady pace) on the Borg Scale. Goal Duration: 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week generally broken down to 30 minutes per day most days per week, or 1.75 hours of vigorous exercise per week.

    Gradually work up to the Couch to 5k program for running.

  3. Yoga is a fantastic way to get back in shape. It focuses on alignment, flexibility and core strength. Plus it teaches breathing and will help you keep centered. It is great if you can take a class to assure that you have proper form and the necessary props, but you can also workout at home with a dvd. Start with one of the milder forms until you are ready for more demanding poses and practices.

  4. Since losing flab, not weight is your goal, if you can include resistance training 2 to 3 times per week, that would be good too. This can be in the form or resistance bands, body weight exercises, and free weights which can all be done in your home. Or you can head to the gym for weight machines.

    Start by strengthening your core. Body weight exercises like the plank and side planks target your abs and trunk muscles. There is a lot you can do with an exercise ball. Here is a video example of strengthening glutes, hamstrings and core with a ball. Exercise balls and resistance bands in the tv room make tv time less sedentary and more fun.

Since you aren't worried about your weight, measure your percentage of body fat to track your progress. Seeing improvements will keep you motivated to go a little farther.

Congratulations for getting started. As you improve the way you look and feel you will also be a good role model for your child. Best of luck.

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    c25k is a great program. I started it in February. It took me 12 weeks, which is more than the program says it should take, but it does work. I went from not having exercised in 12 years to doing 5k's in 30 minutes. – Mark Henderson Sep 9 '13 at 3:01
  • @Mark, Excellent! – BackInShapeBuddy Sep 9 '13 at 8:11

Sounds like you need to modify your exercise, diet and life style to get you where you want to be. It's tough being a mother to a new-born baby (congratulations) and having the energy and desire to get into shape.

It's all about maintainability - start by tracking what you eat, how much sleep you get and keep a journal of how your baby/toddler is impacting your daily routine. Incorporate simple exercises that include your baby and some that you can do while the baby is napping (I'm assuming going to the gym by yourself is out of the question at this time).

I'm a big fan of FitDeck - basically playing cards with various exercises on it that you can use to help guide/motivate you - for example, you can purchase the postnatal deck and pick out 10-20 cards to complete by end of day.

Some simple steps to take:

  • imagine/picture where you want to be - health wise - and write it down and hang it up
  • take pictures along the way so you can see the change
  • start slowly incorporating exercises into your schedule - don't burn yourself out
  • include trips to the playground, park, etc. with your baby as part of your workout, it all counts
  • track what you eat and start adjusting your diet
  • log your workout, join an on-line health/exercise community like dailyburn or LiveStrong to discuss with others

Good luck

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