This summer has been an extremely busy time for my family. While we have routines in place to keep us on track nutritionally, physical activity has been a different story! Other than the occasional walk, I am not getting much physical activity.
I know how important it is to get enough exercise and speak with my patients about it regularly. But the struggle is real, and my lifestyle is not reflecting my values in this area.
As I reflect on ways to change this in my own life, I thought I would invite you into the process with me. Here are some ideas that we can use to make exercise a reality in our lives.
Clarifying Our Motivation
Sure we all know that being active is “important for our health,” but what is your true motivation for putting in the effort? What is it that you want to accomplish by being more active? Would you like to be able to keep up with your friends when they go hiking? Are you a competitive person who wants to be able to race? Do you simply desire to avoid the chronic pain that “runs in your family”?
Once you’ve clarified what you are hoping for visualize yourself the way you’d like to be! Picture yourself enjoying physical activity with friends without struggling to keep up. See yourself running that race. Envision yourself aging with ease. Be specific as you visualize what it will be like when you have accomplished your goals, letting yourself settle into the joy of what it will be like.
Ask yourself what is holding you back from taking the first step towards your goals. Once you identify the obstacles, you can make a plan to overcome them.
Choose Something Fun and Life-giving
You are more likely to succeed if you like the activity that you are doing, so choose something that you enjoy! Try something new or explore an activity that you enjoyed when you were younger. Swimming, yoga, cross-fit, running, rock-climbing and dancing are just a few ideas of things you could try. There are so many options for physical activity that it would be silly to force ourselves to do something that we aren’t fond of.
Choose something that is right for you in your current season of life. If you have a lot of stress in your life you may find a gentle movement like yoga beneficial. On the other hand, you may find a high intensity workout like kickboxing helps you to relieve the tension even more? Everyone is different and there are so many options for movement. Do what is right for you!
Put It On Your Schedule
Once you choose an activity, decide when you will do it. It is important to actually put it on your schedule!
“Most people don't realize how important scheduling exercise is. We go through life with so much on our plate that a lot of things get side tracked. So if you don't have your exercise days and times scheduled you will more than likely find something else to take its place. So like most things in your life that you do have schedule for, make a plan to schedule exercise and you will be giving back to your body.” -Jeff Croswell, NASM Elite Trainer
Create a Plan for Accountability
Writing down your goals and sharing them with others is a great way to increase your chances of success. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, “you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.” The likelihood of achieving your goal is even higher when you share these goals with someone who believes that you can accomplish them.
- Get a good old fashioned “Accountability Buddy.” Share your goals with a friend, co-worker, or family member that you trust to encourage you in your goals. It should be someone who you can be honest with, who will be able to challenge you to stay on track.
- StikK is a great website that allows you to define your goals and create the accountability you need. It is completely individualized and free, unless you want to put a monetary incentive down for further motivation. (For those who like a challenge or need extra incentive, you can choose an “anti-charity” that will profit if you do not meet your goals. What is an anti-charity? It is a charity of your choosing, that does NOT stand for your values!)
- Some gyms or fitness classes provide this for you naturally as you get to know the other participants and create a sense of community. This comradery creates a powerful motivation to show up and do your best!
Be Gentle With Yourself
- Start slow and don’t push yourself too hard, too fast. I focused on the motivational side of getting started, but Here’s Exactly How To Ease Back Into Working Out is a great article that offers lots of practical tips to get started. You want to use wisdom, so that this can be a good experience that will last the rest of your life.
- Create a routine. Notice what works for you and lean into that. Once you establish routines that are consistently working for you, then you can decide if you want to challenge yourself even more or if you are happy with your current level of activity.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout! Just recognize what happened, get up and try again. Celebrate your small successes and build on them.
If you come in for an appointment this summer, feel free to share with me how you are incorporating movement into your life and ask me how my movement is going!