"A marathon begins with a single step… a lifestyle change begins with a vision and a single step." Marathon runner Jeff Galloway
We all know that exercise is good for us, but why are so many of us still sedentary? Are you the type that just can’t get motivated to start? Do you begin an exercise plan only to abandon it in a few days, weeks, or months down the road? Well, I can tell you that I have been there myself. I know the feeling of thinking that you are just not an athlete, or it’s really too late to start something now, because you were not an athlete in high school. Or, if you only had a trainer, or the right book, the right workout DVD, etc. then you could do something about it. I know how you are feeling because I’ve had all of those thoughts and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be consistently working out, or training for a marathon, but that is just what I’m doing!
If you want to be truly healthy, you need to incorporate some kind of exercise into your daily routine, but it doesn’t have to be such a chore. There are ways that you can get motivated and stay on track with your goals.
1) Find something you enjoy doing. If you like to walk, walk. If you enjoy going for a hike, find a trail and get moving. Bike riding, swimming, dance, and yoga; there are so many possibilities out there. Just pick your favorite and do it… consistently!
2) Start slowly. What had always hurt me in the past was trying to be superwoman overnight. I would have a workout plan to follow that would have some ridiculous number of miles to run or squats to do. Then you guessed it! I would be so sore the next day that I would not be able to move which would generally lead to the end of my workout plan. Don’t let this happen to you. If you do nothing else, just start walking for 20 minutes a day as often as you can. When I first got serious, I walked every day for 30 minutes to an hour for 8 months before I started running. And even then, I didn’t force myself. Running just seemed like the next logical thing to do and my body was ready. Trust me, it gets easier. Months from now you will look back and be surprised at how far you’ve come, but only if you start now. I have a poster that hangs on the wall of my classroom that reads, "Even the expert once started out as a beginner."
Gatsby and I after a morning run
3) Get a dog! Yes, you read that correctly. Now I’m not advocating buying a puppy if you do not like dogs or do not have the means to take care of one. But if you are a dog lover and were already thinking about buying that precious little pooch, then go for it. It was the best thing I had ever done for myself because I started walking in the spring of 2009 when I bought my dog Gatsby. Maybe it was the fact that I had a walking companion, or maybe just like a mother, I knew that I needed to give my dog the very best life I could, which included daily walks. Whatever helped to motivate me worked because Gatsby helped to get me off the couch and out on the streets walking. Over time it became a habit, and if I do not get a chance to go for my daily walk or run, I feel sluggish and have less energy.
If you don’t want to buy a dog, then find a friend or recruit your spouse to be your workout buddy. Besides Gatsby, my husband has also been putting his sneakers on to join me on the runs, and we motivate each other to keep going even when we don’t feel like it.
4) Don’t listen to the negative thoughts in your head. We all have them. "I’ll never get to my goals so why should I start now?" or "I’m too tired so I will start tomorrow." Now, are you going to be less tired tomorrow? Probably not. "I’m too fat, too skinny, too weak, or just don’t have enough time!" You need to toss these thoughts to the curb. The best thing is to not even give them the chance to start. For example, I really HATE the cold. Whenever I get home from work during the winter and need to get changed into my workout clothes, my mind starts saying, "What are you crazy! It’s way too cold outside. Why don’t you just put those clothes away, go downstairs and have a nice cooked meal to warm you up." Sounds tempting, but the way I combat that is to just get changed as FAST as I can and keep moving; toward putting my sneakers on, toward the door, outside, down the road etc. The key here is to not think about anything until you are on your way. Then you can let your mind wander. You are less likely to turn around and go home once you are half way down the block. Starting the workout is half the battle.
5) Eat lots of raw fruits and veggies. Food is fuel, so when you feed your body foods that contain life and energy, you will feel full of life and have lots of energy. And that energy will be what propels you to action. Try not to eat too many fat filled recipes because fats take longer to digest and can cause lethargy.
In any event, find out what is stopping you from giving your body the love and attention it needs and discover what works best for you to overcome that challenge. Try some of the tips outlined above and before you know it, you will begin to leave your former self in the dust!
Marisa Silverstein H.H.C. is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and for the past seven years has helped counsel many individuals and families on how to create a healthy lifestyle. She created Raw Food Trails to help teach others about the importance of raw foods and maintaining a healthy respect for one’s body. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in holistic nutrition.