Getting Over the Hump
Written on May 6, 2008 by Dr. Laurie
Seth popped in to my office today and told me how frustrated he has been feeling about not exercising.
"I feel sluggish," he confided.
We spent some time on our podcast going over ways to jumpstart an exercise routine, and I want to emphasize a couple of key points for all of you who are berating yourselves for not exercising "enough."
#1 – Physical activity makes you feel better.
Note I didn't say "exercise." That can be such a daunting word. It sounds big and demanding.
"Physical activity" is an easier word. It means "moving around." Lots of things promote physical activity. Taking the steps instead of the elevator, gardening, playing golf, walking around the block once or twice. See how easy that is?
Make your own list of easy physical activities that you enjoy, and give yourself credit when you do one or two each day.
#2 – Activities that you enjoy are much easier to do than a planned exercise regime.
Obvious, isn't it? But most of us think about an exercise "plan" and we don't give ourselves credit if we take a stroll to the post office, or play a game of catch with our niece.
When I talk to people I know, they admit they don't do the Exercise Program. Or, they start and do it once or twice … and then quit.
So think about activities that are inherently enjoyable to you. Allow yourself to do them. Make time in your schedule.
It's far healthier to do something — even something small — than to think about a big serious plan and never start.
#3 – A little activity goes a long way.
Just get started.
When you add a little stretching or walking, or lift a small weight in the morning before your shower, you will begin a trend. A little movement will invite more movement.
When we tell ourselves, "I should do something really big or it isn't going to help me," we are stopping ourselves before we begin.
Beginning creates a cascade of good feelings. We feel more positive because we're doing something. Our brains get in on the act and release those feel-good chemical endorphins.
We find it easier to move more. We discover we miss it, or feel sluggish when we have to stay still for too long.
#4 – Activity helps your arthritis.
How many times have you heard that? But something gets in the way. Maybe all the emphasis on "shoulds" and "ought."
Try a different, gentler tack with yourself. I know, it's bad enough that you have arthritis and now you have to do even more than the next person to take care of your health. But you could also look at this as an excuse to enjoy yourself.
A friend of mine has arthritis and it is getting more painful by the day. She has heard all the admonitions to get moving, and none of it motivated her.
Recently, she had the opportunity to join a beautiful spa club. There are five kinds of saunas, plus two pools, and it's beautiful. She decided to give herself the treat of all that beauty and she spent the not-insignificant amount of money on a membership.
She is enjoying herself — not making herself do something unpleasant. Some days she goes just to sit in the sauna. She tells people she "has" to go to the club, and she takes friends — like me!
It's a win-win for her. See if you can imagine a win-win for yourself.
I've got Seth working on that and would love to hear from you. Tell me: what works for you?