I don’t know about you but I seriously dislike the idea of “exercising”… in the traditional sense, that is, like going to the gym and hitting the machines, hard core! Sometimes the gym feels tormenting and every minute feels like an hour. There are many forms of moving that are healthy!
Some people do enjoy the gym and taking classes; I’m just not one of them. I do, however, get really jazzed about moving my body in other ways that don’t involve the gym; walking, cross country skiing, inline skating, ice skating, roller skating, dancing around the house, workout videos at home, yoga, pilates, riding my bike outside. So for the sake of our sanity, let’s re-envision it as movement, shall we?
Movement does wonders for your physical and mental health and it’s a necessity for optimal health. It doesn’t have to be done in the gym is all I’m saying. The goal is to move in a way that FEELS GOOD….that is sustainable and makes you WANT to continue moving. Movement doesn’t have to be intense to be healthy. And yes, it does burn energy. But when we do it because it makes us feel good and strong and energized then we are doing it because of those reasons and not necessarily because it is burning calories.
Figuring out what makes us feel good, keeps us doing that action. The body generally feels better or balanced when we move as staying sedentary can make one feel weaker or stiff. The best way to get moving again is to start out slowly and gradually increase time/intensity that suits you! Getting moving might mean a 5-minute dedication per day — that’s okay. I have clients who have to start there.
You will hear all kinds of recommendations for exercise but the best one to note is the one that makes you feel good and energized. If you aren’t used to moving your body in a regular and intentional manner for strength or building endurance, start low and slow and be consistent. You might start with 5 minutes of something gentle; a short hike, sit ups, a walk, weights, yoga, dancing a jig in the living room. Whatever it is, does it feel good to move your body this way? Try different things; mix it up. You might try different body parts for your 5 minutes each day. Explore, with curiosity, what feels good. What makes you smile, feel energized or alive?
That consistency will build strength and confidence and a can-do attitude. Work up by 5 minutes from 5 to 10…then 10 to 15 minutes as time or endurance allows. Let your body guide you. You should feel a little stronger and little more energized with each intentional set of movements.
When you’re not used to movement it can be hard to get back into routine, so if your first go isn’t solid, keep trying. Set a timer or work with friends to keep you accountable. Ease into it with activities you enjoy.
Steady your pace
Movement does not have to be militant to make a difference for your health. Plus, fast-result workouts may lead to disappointment, burnout and pulled, aching muscles for many. I’ve had many clients who signed up for a hard-impact workout and quit weeks into it because they injured themselves. Let’s just shift out of the all-or-nothing way of thinking, shall we?
Movement is about making your body and mind feel good! Sometimes a previous experience has led you to believe that militant exercise is the only way to make your body feel good because it was coupled with a low calorie diet and you lost weight…but didn’t keep it off and/or didn’t continue with the exercise. We are definitely bombarded with the message that high impact + diet = health and especially in the new year. Again, a word of caution with the all or nothing approach: it can backfire and let us down because for most people, jumping into intense workouts isn’t the best place to start. If you haven’t tried starting lower and slower vs. an all in attitude…maybe try it, and see where it leads. In the process, note the self judgement thoughts that inevitably will scream at us, “you aren’t working hard enough”…”you have to feel pain to make a difference”…”no pain, no gain. Tell yourself, you are moving and trying something different this time.
Move at a pace that’s comfortable for you and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don’t force yourself beyond the limits unless you are having a good, strong day and feelin’ it. Get rid of the mentality that what works for one person will work for you. And be careful of comparing your progress to someone else’s…or your current ability to do ‘what you used to do.’ You are starting anew and that doesn’t mean picking where you left off at a different time in your life!
Small changes make big differences
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says this about tiny gains: “Improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable — sometimes it isn’t even noticeable — but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”
Focus on one goal at a time and remember that movement fuels your health AND well-being. You should be feeling refreshed and energized after movement, not drained and depleted .
Monitor your progress
Once you’ve eased back into routine start monitoring your progress – how are you feeling? What differences are you noticing in your health? Are you more energized? Do you feel stronger? What goal have you achieved? Whether it’s walking faster or moving for 5 minutes longer, small victories are allowed to be celebrated.
It’s important to cut yourself some slack! As you start building more strength, add more time and increase the intensity of your plan. On days when you feel weak and tired decrease the time and intensity.
Listen to your body’s cues and discern whether it feels right to increase the intensity of your movement routine. Are you ready to add some resistance like weights? If your body feels sore and tired don’t hesitate to take it slow.
Don’t forget to rest
Yes, staying sedentary is not healthy but neither is overexerting yourself. Rest is just as important for your body as movement. When you rest your body is given time to recover from the effects of being active. Going for a stroll instead of a fast-paced walk can be a wonderful way to recharge.
Not sure how to start moving? Check out this awesome beginners activity! If you really aren’t used to moving, do 5 minutes of it…then 10, and so on. Sometimes it is helpful to be guided through some movements and you can pick and choose which movements you like best and repeat those! Here’s Leslie Sansone’s Walking video that gets the blood flowing and time can be adjusted as tolerated. For me, if you put anything to music, I’ll move. These are just a few examples of many. Do your own search for something that suits you to get you started. If you dare, you can stand up and do 10 minutes of a video at your desk.
And next time you’re hesitant about getting up and moving, just remember how refreshed, energized and less tense it leaves you feeling! That positive feedback loop helps keep you motivated and committed.
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