Unfortunately, many of us (me included) have had negative experiences in the past that shaped how we thought of exercise and physical activity. One of the biggest challenges of beginning and expanding a sustainable personal exercise program can be between the ears. Here are a few ideas that might be helpful to get you started or back on track:
1.) Ask yourself if you really feel ready to begin a program. Sometimes it is a good idea that really does not fit for you right now.
2.) Is the program you are thinking about a good match for your physical condition, abilities and personal taste? It is important to consult your healthcare provider to make sure that you are setting yourself up for good results instead of problems. And be sure to choose an activity that you really like. Chances are you will not stay with it if you don't enjoy it at all.
3.) Start slowly. It is easy to suddenly see so much that you would like to improve about yourself that you are tempted to overdo it. A personal trainer can help you design a plan that will get you started at an appropriate level. If it is not sustainable, it is not a good fit. Trying to do too much too soon may lead to giving up altogether.
4.) Build your program into your life. Developing good exercise habits takes time. Especially if you have a history of little or no exercise, it can seem like the first thing to scratch off your schedule when life gets busy. Try adapting it instead in order to keep the “behavior” happening. For example: Not long ago I ended up staying with a family member in a large hospital for a couple of days. I didn’t get in my usual exercise, but intentionally walking the stairs several times each day helped me to keep focused.
5.) Change your program every few weeks to keep it new. This is a lifetime choice. Play, laugh, and above all, enjoy! The most important thing in starting an exercise program is making it an enjoyable habit.
From now through the first part of January most of us will find ourselves facing many more food cues than we do the rest of the year. How do we get through this season making healthy choices and not feeling deprived?