Like many of you, I’ve been making resolutions to exercise, lose weight, eat better, or get healthier for many, many years. Some years I’m more successful than others, but one thing that has been consistent is my lack of consistency. I’ve realized that I, like many others, do not start in the right place. We need to start with mind and motivation. Beating ourselves up with negative self thoughts isn’t going to help anything; in fact, it will sabotage you every time. Use what you enjoy, want, or need to motivate you down a healthier path.
The same New Year’s resolutions are on our list every year because we weren’t “successful” in accomplishing them. Maybe our goals are unrealistic or our plan to achieve them needs work. We often make things too complicated and jump into things too fast. Successful change starts with establishing new habits that move us in the direction we would like to go. It will take a lot of small changes in the beginning to get ourselves turned around and moving in the right direction but usually once we are going, the momentum helps keep us going.
I love to exercise and it’s still hard for me to create a habit of daily exercise. We often blame lack of time for our failure to do something, but that is rarely the real reason. Most of us are wasting tons of time on our phones or watching TV. For me, it was more about giving myself permission to spend time doing something for myself when I still had so much stuff on my to do list. I’m sure many of you know the familiar pattern of, “I’ll exercise once I finish x, y, z.” But then you never finish those things or you don’t have the energy to even figure out where to get started on something new.
I actually started my exercise plan in September by taking a little time every morning to read a book. I did this to start establishing a habit of taking some time for myself early in the day. Although I’m quite knowledgeable and experienced with exercise, I’m also a researcher and planner. I was delaying and procrastinating starting regular exercise because I wanted to come up with a plan. Finally, near the end of October, I just decided to start small with familiar exercises. I started doing five to 10 minutes on my exercise equipment or doing some stretches.
If you don’t enjoy exercise, then it’s going to be even harder. You need to sneak exercise into something you need, want, or enjoy. Maybe you need to save money, so you decide to walk instead of driving and paying for parking. You want to visit with your friends more, so you do it while going for a walk. If you enjoy watching a show, reading a book, or listening to music, then give yourself those perks when doing some stretches or exercise.
We all sit too much and move too little. The most important part of exercise is that we spend time everyday moving our bodies in some way. Anything more than you are doing now is a step in the right direction. Tools like tracking your steps (which you can do on most smartphones) can help motivate you and monitor your progress.
Don’t make exercise about losing weight because moving our bodies is important regardless of our weight. Go for a walk and listen to some TedTalks or podcasts on the benefits of movement and exercise. Exercise improves your mood, mental functioning, energy, sleep, digestion, immune system, skin, strength, flexibility, balance, and posture. It reduces stress, anxiety and depression, chronic diseases, blood pressure, and risk of cancer. Exercise is a magic pill.
If you are seeking vitality, health and longevity, then you also want to work on adding these things to your life: real, whole foods; time restricted eating or intermittent fasting; adequate amounts of mineral water; sufficient, quality sleep; sunlight; fresh air and deep breathing; and time in nature.