Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

4 Ways to Find a Healthy Relationship with Exercise

We all do it. Your friend says to you, “Alright, we have three months until Jamaica! Let’s start exercising!” Both of you are on board to start an exercise regimen and are full throttle for three months straight. You are committed and neither of you have missed a sweat session since you started. You have been eating healthier, feeling great and working towards a goal. Everything is going great and then, vacation sets in.

Bam! Was all that hard work really just for week-long trip to look good in Jamaica? This is unrealistic goal setting and it can create issues with your relationship with exercise. So, how do we get into a better mind-set that exercising isn’t just getting ready for that trip to Jamaica or to have a body like Jessica Biel?

NIFS | Healthy Relationship with Exercise

#1: Change your mentality towards exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a release; a release physically and mentally from your crummy day at work or from that test you took and think you totally bombed. Maybe, the workout doesn't have to be all "go hard or go home"; what if it was a simple walk on the treadmill or outside to clear your head? Working out as a means to an end (like prepping for a trip, or a class reunion) creates a lot of self-imposed pressure and it leads to a built in stopping point. The added pressure can also increase your risk for injury if you start out too intensely. Why add that to all of life’s other stress? Finding a positive relationship with exercise may take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

#2: Find the workout that makes YOU happy.

One of your friends swears by hot yoga, but you have another social circle who only workout at their CrossFit® gym. You try both avenues and totally hate them, but stick with them because, hey, that’s what buddies do, right? WRONG. You need to find what makes you tick. If hot yoga isn’t your thing, don’t do it because it’s your BFF's favorite thing to do. Maybe, you like to just take leisure walk/jogs through the park or you enjoy power lifting. You won’t know until you try. (And this leads me into the next item on the list.)

#3: Get out of your comfort zone.

I know it’s scary, but staying in a comfortable zone doesn’t create change. It also doesn’t help us figure out what we like and it certainly doesn't help us get better. Maybe you can find a buddy to go with you to your first spin class so it isn’t so daunting. Whatever it takes, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, re-evaluate and figure out what works best for you! If you have access to a gym or a corporate fitness center, talk to staff you trust to broaden your perspective on ways to move that might be fun.

#4: Get a handle on YOUR Relationship with Exercise.

We know now that “getting the perfect body” or “getting ripped for vacay” is NOT a healthy relationship with exercise. A healthy relationship with exercise is using it as a tool to relax, to feel well, and/or to use as a life-long hobby. Trust me, you won’t stick with it if you decide three months before Jamaica you want to look like Jennifer Aniston. Your goals need to be attainable and healthy; they also need to be unique to you. 

Exercise shouldn’t be a quick fix to a problem and it shouldn't be complete drudgery each time you strap on your gym shoes. If you hate moving your body, then try another approach.  It should be a life-style choice that you find gratifying and enjoyable.

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Topics: making time to exercise exercising motivation healthy living corporate fitness programming setting exercise goals healthy relationship with exercise

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” To Make Healthy Changes: Part 3

Part 2 of this blog series focused on the importance of scheduling time to exercise and practice healthy eating. This scheduling involves setting aside time not only to exercise but also to prepare healthy meals. I also stressed how important it is to stick to the schedule as often as humanly possible.

But what do you do if you are simply dreading exercise? Or if you are dying to take a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of doing meal prep?

TIP: Write Out the Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking a Healthy Action

Contemplating the advantages and disadvantages of a decision is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique that serves as a great reminder of why you were motivated to make healthy changes in the first place. The following represents an advantage/disadvantage square. In my experience, people who fill these out often decide to make positive, healthy choices. And with practice, you can easily do these in your head!

motivation square.jpg

As you can see, the advantages of exercising before work far outweigh the disadvantages. Sometimes, simple reminders like this are all you need to feel a bit more motivated. And if you happen to have a day where your disadvantages are greater than the advantages, this is a sign that you may need to take the day off to focus on other things (which is okay…it happens to EVERYONE).

The Bottom Line

You have the power to influence your motivation levels, so don’t wait until you feel motivated to make a positive change.  

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Topics: motivation healthy eating goal setting exercising healthy choices

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 2

ThinkstockPhotos-652753748.jpgIn part 1 of this blog series, I emphasized the following points:

  • It’s natural to feel unmotivated. Many of us are juggling complex family and work lives, making it even harder to find motivation to exercise and eat healthy.
  • Don’t berate yourself for not feeling motivated. This type of negative self-talk can be counterproductive; Saying you are “lazy” or “bad” can decrease motivation.
  • Don’t wait until you feel motivated to make healthy changes. You could be waiting for a very long time.

If lack of motivation is the most common barrier to healthy eating and exercising regularly, then lack of time is a very close second. My next blog emphasizes the importance of having a consistent schedule when it comes to making healthy choices about exercising and eating.

TIP: Make a Schedule That Makes Your Goals a Reality

Someone once told me, “The difference between success and failure is your schedule. You need a schedule that makes your goal a reality.” Orienting your goals around your schedule is key to achieving success, primarily because the more consistently you exercise and eat healthy, the more results you will see. And the more results you see, the easier it will be to stay motivated.

Here are some tips on how you can maximize your schedule.

  • Identify the time of day that you are most consistently able to schedule exercise. This might be 5am before work or during your lunch break. Or perhaps the only extra time you have is while you wait for your kids to finish soccer practice. Regardless of the time, make it a point to schedule exercise on those days and STICK TO IT. Even if you can only fit in 20 minutes of exercise, those 20 minutes are better than no exercise at all.
  • Make time to do meal prep. I think this is THE most important factor when it comes to weight loss. After all, weight loss is achieved in the kitchen, not through exercise. Set aside time to prepare your meals for the week. Pre-preparing meals allows you to control portion sizes and have options readily available for days when you can’t control your schedule (like when your child gets sick or when there is a work-related emergency). It also makes it less likely that you order takeout.
  • Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice. You may need to shuffle your priorities to find time in your schedule to exercise. For example, how much time do you spend watching TV or surfing the internet? According to a recent report by Nielsen, the average American spends 4.5 hours watching live TV (not DVR-recorded shows) per DAY. If you have time to watch TV or surf the internet, you have time to exercise or do meal prep.

The Bottom Line

Create a schedule that will promote your success and stick to it as often as possible.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy eating exercising healthy choices

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 1

When I ask people what prevents them from exercising and practicing healthy eating, one of the most common responses is, “I just don’t feel motivated.”

I’m here to tell you that you will never see the results you want to see if you wait to “feel” motivation.

I’m not saying this to be cruel or insensitive. I’m saying this because—in my experience—this is the reality of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis is HARD. It’s even harder when you factor in how much time and energy you already dedicate to your family, work, and other personal pursuits (like educational or volunteer efforts). If you wait to feel motivated to make these healthy changes, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

Are there people out there who naturally feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise? Of course, but I’d be willing to bet that most of them had to learn to motivate themselves. How do you teach yourself to feel motivated? In this blog series, I share my thoughts about the links between motivation and healthy lifestyle choices. I also share a few tips and tricks on how to teach yourself to feel more motivated. Here is my first tip:

TIP: Give Yourself Permission to Feel Unmotivated

ThinkstockPhotos-829414944.jpgThat’s right, it’s okay to feel unmotivated! After all, it’s a natural feeling that extends to many aspects of our lives. How many of us really feel motivated to fold that last load of laundry? Or make our beds in the morning? Or write that last report of the month? At some point, we all struggle with motivation.

Many of my clients have expressed guilt or shame because they don’t feel motivated to exercise or eat healthy. I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling this way. Most of us aren’t skipping gleefully up to the front doors of the gym, bursting with excitement at the opportunity to sweat and push ourselves to our physical limits for a 60-minute spin class. Most of us are thinking about how tired we are, how we’re going to get our kids to finish their homework without a fight, how the house is a mess, or any of the five million other things that need to be done in any given day.

The same can be said for eating healthy: Most of us aren’t drooling in anticipation when we order plain grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli, especially when there are other savory options like hamburgers and pizza and French fries.

The Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel unmotivated, but you are not “lazy” or “bad” for feeling that way. What matters is how you address that unmotivated feeling. Watch for part 2 for more tips on how a schedule can help you feel more motivated.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy eating exercising healthy choices