Since living healthy and fit is a long-term commitment, we must own a wardrobe that reflects this aspect of our lives. As an attorney who spends a significant amount of time in court, I need to have the appropriate suits, blouses and shoes in my wardrobe. As a minister, I need the appropriate clothing, vestments, etc. that reflect my status in ministry. There’s a pattern. My investment in acquiring items for the various areas of my life reflects the priority of those areas.
The following list contains must-have items to BEGIN your new healthy and fit lifestyle. These items are the basics. If you already own any of the items on the list, do not feel pressured to buy something that’s new and shiny. You do not need to impress anyone with fashionable exercise gear. Resist the urge to spend for the sake of spending. As you progress with your regimen, you will need multiples of certain products. If you find an activity or sport that speaks to you, you may need to acquire activity-specific products. In my effort to be a good steward, I endorse sales, clearance racks and coupons. The clearance rack is always my first stop. Also, I do comparison research on the internet and signed up to receive coupons via email from some of my favorite stores. More about that later.
1. Athletic Shoes. Quality athletic shoes are a must. Don’t mess with the feet. The array of options can be overwhelming. Running shoes, walking shoes, cross trainers… However, a store that specializes in selling athletic shoes can evaluate your feet and recommend the best shoe for your feet and your activity. The Running Company, for example, will also perform a gait analysis to help you purchase the correct shoes. Side note: COLORS DO NOT MATTER! You do not need to coordinate your shoes with your outfits.
2. Sports Bra. A quality sports bra is key. I am a fan of the Moving Comfort brand. The two types of sports bras are encapsulation and compression. Encapsulation bras support each breast individually. Compression bras support the chest and breasts as a unit. The four levels of control are light, moderate, firm and maximum. Buy the level of control that is recommended for your activity. Additionally, the larger a woman’s breasts are, the more vital it is for her to get proper support. Ideally, you should try on the sports bra prior to your purchase. Do a few jumping jacks in front of the mirror in the fitting room. The less bounce and movement side-to-side, the better the bra is for you. If you cannot try on the bra, make sure you find out the store’s return policy. There is nothing worse than wearing an uncomfortable sports bra while exercising. No bueno.
3. Sweat Pants, Capris, or Shorts and T-Shirts or Tank Tops. Your choice of clothing depends on the weather and your level of modesty. The quality that you select is purely a personal choice. You should consider buying garments that are made of moisture wicking fabric. This is an important feature, so the garments will be clearly labeled so you will not have to guess. Moisture wicking fabric will absorb the perspiration from your body so that you won’t feel yucky. Your skin stays dry longer than if you were wearing non-moisture wicking fabric.
4. White Cotton Sweat Socks. Cotton is important because it is a natural fiber. Cotton breathes. Yet, cotton retains the perspiration. White is the best color choice because you will not have to deal with any effects from or allergies to fabric dye. Moisture wicking options are available and are usually a better option than cotton because the perspiration will be drawn away from your skin.
5. Cotton Panties. In addition to the points listed in #4, you should choose briefs, hipsters or bikinis that do not constrict movement. Moisture wicking options are available. Avoid wearing thongs while exercising.
6. Sweatshirts and Jackets: During the fall and winter months, outerwear is essential if you are exercising outdoors. If you exercise at night, purchase a jacket with reflectors so that you can be seen by oncoming traffic. Layering several thin tops is better for you than wearing one bulky sweatshirt. Ideally, the thin layers should be made of moisture wicking fabric.
7. Lock. If you join a gym, you will need a lock, either combination or key, in order to use the lockers. This is a small item, but if you forget to bring it with you, prepare for a headache.
If you decide to workout three days per week, make sure you have at least one week’s worth of clothing on hand. Do not delay starting your exercise regimen because you do not have one full week of garments. We must strike while the iron is hot! You may need to do a few small loads of laundry every couple of days until your inventory grows. The end of the season is a great time to invest in your fitness wardrobe and increase your inventory. You will know about the sales because you will have signed up to receive emails for coupons and sneak peaks from your favorite retail outlets. If you have a favorite brand, you can go directly to that brand’s website and submit your email address. I am going to help get you started by providing links to some of the larger retailers. Here are a few suggestions. Feel free to share your favorite retailers in the comments section.
In all of your investing in your fitness wardrobe, be a good steward. Stay encouraged.