By: Tricia Stefankiewicz
Today we will talk all about some ways of how to fit exercise into your life including making a schedule, anticipating obstacles, setting realistic expectations, and creating accountability.
Despite the convenience of smart phones, watches, FREE you tube videos, and activity trackers, physical activity continues to be an elusive goal that we all want but few have managed to fulfill. Life’s demands prevent us from being active despite the known benefits of moving our body. We continue to use common excuses of “I don’t have time” or “I’m too tired” after a long exhausting day at work. In some ways, it’s easier to make physical activity happen, but we can’t manage to spare 30 minutes per day doing something that will benefit our minds and bodies. Current recommendations suggest a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity throughout the week, yet few meet this goal. Instead of relying on hope and motivation to start exercising, let’s take this into our own hands and make it happen!
How do we start. Let’s talk about 4 ways to fit exercise into our schedule
Schedule it into your week
Like all things that are important in your life, exercise will need to be scheduled every week for it to happen. Thinking about working out in your head and not actually WRITING it down, does not count. You MUST take the time and add it to your physical or digital calendar or planner. It needs to come out of your head so that you can start relying on yourself to get it done, and not HOPING it will get done. Just like any appointment in your calendar, once exercise is written down, it becomes the same non-negotiable time slot as a doctor’s appointment or another appointment that is important to you. Writing it down is a way of committing to yourself that it is important. Early on, the habit of doing the behavior may be more important that the time you spend doing the behavior. For example, if you really want to walk outside for 45 minutes but you can only do 15 minutes to start – that’s OK because you are DOING the behavior itself. The fact that you started the behavior is amazing and it may be more than you did last week. You made the habit happen!!!!! The more this habit becomes a part of your lifestyle, the more you can start to focus more on the timing of the habit. Keep track of how often you do this new behavior by using something like a habit tracker or in your planner or calendar. At the end of the month, review how often you were able to keep this commitment to yourself. Reminding yourself of the progress you have made over the past 30 days will help reinforce and provide confidence that you are able to do the activity you desired.
Too tired or too many distractions at the end of the day to work out? Try a morning workout routine instead. Mix it up if sometimes mornings work better than night and vice versa. Get into your workout clothes as soon as you get home from work to minimize any distractions.
Don’t want to wake up in the morning to exercise? Think of it as alone time and a time of self-care. Plan out which exercise you will do the night before so that you can wake up, put clothes on, and get moving.
No access to a gym or your kids are watching TV and you can’t do your home workout? Set up the exercise apps for home workouts on your computer or smart phone to minimize any chance of not doing it.
Not feeling motivated. Keep sneakers and clothes in a place where you see them and feel bad if you don’t exercise. Reward your self with a phone call to a friend, book, movie, or TV show for performing the task.
Don’t know which exercise to do each day? Join a fitness challenge or a structured exercise program to minimize the choice or indecision. This can be something like a couch to 5K, monthly fitness challenge at your gym, or a structured workout routine that has a different exercise for each day.
Start where you are at and Be realistic
You may be so excited to start working out that you set an unrealistic fitness goal only to be disappointed that you haven’t kept this goal. Let’s create a realistic expectation of where you are at right NOW and where you want to be in a month.
If you can only workout 2 times this week, then start there. This may be so much better than what you achieved last week. Any physical activity is better than NONE. At this stage, it’s more about how often you can perform the task, not the amount of time. For instance, exercising 20 minutes 2-3 times per week may not be your goal but it’s the regularity that will help develop the skill to achieve the bigger goal of 30 minutes 5 days per week. As you can be more consistent with your behavior, you can add more time or days to have the exercise completed. The more regular it is the easier it will likely become. Start SLOW and go SLOW. The goal is to do the activity not for a short time – to become a lifestyle behavior. – start something that is manageable and then build upon it over time, increasing frequency and length of time
Accountability can act as a key motivator to making a behavior change. Many of us find it easier being accountable to other people than ourselves. Let’s explore some ways to obtain some accountability in your own life. Examples include walking with a friend a few days a week, joining a running group, meeting your friend at your favorite workout class, joining an online fitness community with members who share your goal. Other ways to have accountability, include posting you’re your weekly goals on Facebook or even in THIS group community – Whole Health Empowerment Project – so that you have accountability to other members who are monitoring your progress. Lastly, you can develop a commitment contract to yourself by using a website such as stickK – while leveraging money so that you follow through on your plan.
In conclusion, implement small sessions of movement each week, decide what works and what doesn’t, make changes, and then continue to build and create a foundation that works for you. There is no “right or wrong” way to do this. It’s more of what is right for you and what you can maintain over the long term. It won’t be perfect. Done is better than perfect. I don’t have it figured out, but I know I can do a better job than I am doing now. You may feel that way too. Remember to start where you’re at. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day. Be kind to yourself friends. See you next week.
By: Tricia Stefankiewicz