This article is a four part series. Each part (Part I, Part II and Part III) has a different focus, to help you gain energy and lose weight. This weeks focus will be on physical activity.
The point of “exercise” is to simply find movement that you enjoy. This is my motto, and this is what your focus will be for this week.
If there is one thing I can stress about this particular topic, it’s ultimately to find what you enjoy doing. If you are dragging yourself to the gym and not enjoying it once your there, it’s time to find a new kind of activity! You may lose some weight and have some positive effects, but like anything, if you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to follow through with it long term. Obviously, that also means that any benefits you once gained, will not last. Plus, movement/ exercise should promote a hormonal shift that decreases your stress and anxiety. Ideally it’s “you” time that’s multi purposed. So stop forcing yourself into doing something you truly don’t enjoy.
Here are the top 5 mistakes I see people making when it comes to exercise, or lack thereof:
- Dismissing it altogether because of an injury or physical limitation of sorts
- Fear or anxiety due to body insecurity. Not wanting to exercise in public.
- Killing themselves with double classes and/or super strenuous classes (this is relative to how you perceive the effort) on a daily basis, thinking more is better.
- Thinking only about the calories being burned while exercising and how that relates to what you have or will eat. Exercising as punishment.
- Setting goals or expectations too high and feeling defeated when they’re not met.
Here are some helpful tips to overcoming these hang-ups, and get you going in the right direction
Dismissing it altogether because of an injury or physical limitations of sorts.
- Weather your current physical status is temporary or long term, it’s important to look at all the things you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t. If you’re unsure of what your options are, I suggest having a consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer so they can asses your limitations and give you safe options to choose from. Speaking from alot of experience, if you are injured, don’t set a time frame on when you expect to be resuming “normal” activity. You will only be anxious and disappointed. My mindset shifted to “I’m doing this for now until I can do more later.” No time frame, no expectation. Be thankful for what you can do, because chances are someone has it way worse than you. If you find that your options are not very appealing, consider just doing a small amount of one or more activities, rather than forcing a large chunk of time. Any activity will be beneficial vs. none at all. Focus on the benefits it will bring you. Feel the difference after doing it for a solid week.
Fear or anxiety due to body insecurity. Not wanting to exercise in public.
- I can’t make you gain confidence, but I can tell you from working in gyms for the last 6 years, that no one cares what you’re doing for a workout. People are there to do their own workout. Why would they care what you’re doing? I encourage you to either 1. Exercise in the comfort of your own home or outside, until you feel more confident, or 2. Do a thorough search for a gym, studio, or other movement option that makes you feel welcome and supported. If you don’t like it, move on to the next option. It’s like trying on a pair of jeans- totally changeable! You may also consider working with a personal trainer, who can show you what exercises to do so you will be confident in your abilities and form.
Killing themselves with double classes and/or super strenuous classes (this is relative to how you perceive the effort) on a daily basis, thinking more is better.
- Standard logic may have you thinking “if some if good, more is better,” when it comes to exercise, This is not necessarily true and can really wreak havoc on your nervous system, muscular and skeletal systems (example-tendons and ligaments), hormones, and metabolism. If you truly enjoy a good butt-whooping that is intense (example- spin class, tabatta or HIIT, sprinting, etc) that’s great, but keep it limited. Limited is relative to the person and their goals, but some general guidelines are as follows: no more than 20 mins of “all out effort” per session and 1-3 of these types of sessions is plenty. Not every workout should “kill you.” They should vary in intensity.
Thinking only about the calories being burned while exercising and how that relates to what you have or will eat. Exercising as punishment.
- This point comes back to the enjoyment of activity. You aren’t enjoying your activity, if this is your only motivating factor. That single motivator will fade with time. This line of thought also drives the stress response higher, because you’re constantly stressing over every calorie (and for no reason, I might add). Our bodies are not as simple as “calories in calories out,” even though that’s what we have been told for years. Really think about this: If it were that simple, why don’t we all just go on calorie restricted diets and lose some weight, permanently? It’s clearly not that easy. Our bodies rebel at some point. Calorie restriction is not a long term answer for weight control.
Setting goals or expectations too high and feeling defeated when they’re not met.
- I often find that clients have a good idea of the big picture goal, but have difficulty breaking it into reasonable short term goals. I encourage people to get specific on their desires and write out their options for the actions they could take to meet this large goal. They work on setting smaller goals using those actions. For example, if the long term goal is to feel better and lose 20 pounds, they may write down: get rid of fatigue and heart burn (getting specific as to what “feeling better” means), walk, stretch, see a physical therapist regarding strength training around my arthritis (actions to get active, to help lose the 20#).
- Another big point I encourage people to consider further, is their motivators. I ask people to really play out the scenario where they are (for example) feeling better and 20 pounds lighter. How would their life be different? Who would it effect? What problems might it solve? What problems won’t it solve? These questions often lead people to a stronger motivator than just wanting to lose 20#. Some common responses I hear are: I want to be able to play with my son/ grandson, or I want to be able to go up and down the stairs without pain and breathlessness, or I want to have enough energy to be physically active, etc.
More on this topic can also be found in THIS ARTICLE
I hope this article makes physical activity seem less daunting, if thats an issue for you. Don’t let fear stop you, instead, trouble shoot it and face it head-on!
Need help doing this? Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation!