Thursday, January 8, 2009

Exercise for Life

Exercise is your insurance policy. It doesn’t have to cost you any money AND it will give you more time on the clock of life. As an added bonus, exercise will add quality to your life. Close your eyes and picture yourself 10 years from now with your overweight, tired, low self -esteem body lying on a hospital bed with a heart monitor and a nurse constantly checking your blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate. Your worried family is by your bedside. Open your eyes. Scary, huh? Now close your eyes and picture yourself and family on a sandy beach or out in nature with all the energy you never imagined possible due to the reconditioned body you have carved. Feels good. Doesn’t it? All of us have the ability to change our mindset and choose a different future, or a different past. Becoming fit doesn’t take years—you’ll see the benefit of exercise within a few weeks.

Does the following sound familiar? You know you’ve got to start exercising and you vow to park the car in the furthest parking space, hit the gym after work, sign up for an exercise class, and take the stairs.

But a week passes and before you know it, parking spots are opening up right in front of the stores and buildings, the elevator is already in the lobby and you’ve had an intense week of juggling work, kids and deadlines. How could you have ever thought you could fit in exercise when you have 100 things to do (including your bone density test)? Really, what were you thinking? You still have to organize the sock drawer and Tupperware cabinets. How can you exercise with those items in such chaos?

Been there? Many of us have.

So why does exercise seem so wonderful until we actually have to do it? Lack of motivation? OR is it a misunderstanding that leads us to believe motivation is something that will come to us if we wait long enough…that someday we’ll wake up and finally want to exercise. We must stop living in that fantasy. The reality of motivation—it is something we create—not something we wait for. So, stop waiting for the motivation to come to you—just do it! Make it happen today!

Here are six ways to create your motivation.

1. Don’t Count the Calories Burned
One of the ways to keep exercising is not counting the calories burned or weight lost. There are more important things transforming in your workout, such as new-found self-esteem, stress reduction, increased endorphin levels (happy hormone), improving memory and cognition and adding longevity to your life, to name a few.

2. Be Accountable
Hold yourself accountable. Mark an “X” on your calendar every time you exercise. Seeing your motivation (or lack thereof) in black and white helps to keep you focused on your goal.

3. Join Up!
Join a club, exercise class, or exercise with a buddy or a dog. Statistics tell us that we are more consistent with exercise when we do it with a companion. Just knowing someone is waiting for you to exercise helps you to show up and get it done.

4. Challenge Yourself
Sign up for a local 5K walk/run or bike trip. It will help you stay focused on your exercise goal while accomplishing a new activity. Not only will you benefit from the exercise; but, from your community involvement too.

5. Reward Yourself
Put a dollar or two in the jar every time you complete a workout. When you have enough money, treat yourself to a massage, new CD, workout outfit, session with a personal trainer, or new piece of sport/exercise equipment.

6. Motivate Your Mood
Often people will say it’s my mood that either motivates me to exercise or not. Regardless of your mood prior to exercise—exercise has been known to improve your mood. Work out your aggressions in the gym instead of at home or work. The only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. So, ask yourself what the secret to YOUR success is. Listen to your answer. Then practice it. See you at the gym or out on the sidewalks and trails!