I'm coming off an insanely arduous work/life schedule juggling my professional leadership positions, my own kid's athletics, media demands, company growth changes and patient schedule. Last week, I confessed on social media in a random video that I hadn't worked out for over 3 months. If anyone knows me, that is a very uncharacteristic thing for me to do! All my life I've loved all kinds of fitness - especially outdoor adventuring. But recently, I got into a funk that I hadn't been in before and I didn't know why.
Now that I've come on the other side of it, I think deep down I was making sure my reason for working out was a good one. I didn't want it to be tied to fears - such as fears of gaining weight like so many people. I'm seeing more and more people with various eating and exerise disorders that feel like their in prison over health rituals due to irrational fears. It really gets you to think about yourself and your own motivations for why we do what we do. Whether I knew it or not, I may have also been testing myself in a way.
What did I learn? I did notice that I was hungry less, and I actually lost weight. If I had to guess, it was muscle. After the first month, I did notice muscle atrophy and at 45 years old, you know this doesn't help the age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) I am already experiencing! This lack of appetite did help in that I didn't need to stop what I was doing to have as many snacks - in fact, I found that I typically ate 3 meals and no snacks when I wasn't working out. In the season that I was in, that actually helped my productivity in that regard. But, the lack of exercise challenged my stress levels, quality sleep and overall energy levels the most. I was reminded in a big way how working out really helped me have the energy it took to live the life I am fortunate to live. My husband, Jeff, has definitely noticed my lack of speed getting up in the mornings (thanks for the grace, Babe!). Now that I've gotten back to running, I have noticed a severe decrease in my cardiorespiratory fitness. Before, I was able to run 5 miles without any problems. Now? I can only run one mile before having to walk for a bit. I'll get back to it, but this is tied directly into my energy levels the rest of the day when my (or your) heart is out of shape. It's crazy how relatively fast this occurs when you think about it - under 4 months.
Enough about me.
What is your motivation to exercise? Or better yet, are you lacking motivation for exercise?
Like I said in my video, we already have too many things in our lives that we have to do. Who needs one more thing? This seems to be at the core of why some cannot seem to get on a regular activity schedule. Some parents messaged me saying that they feel selfish for taking time to work out when there are so many other things that need to get done. But in all my 13+ years of counseling in wellness, I get complaints of these things from my adult clients. They have:
- A lack of energy
- Problems sleeping - falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early
- Digestive problems: constipation, diarrhea, bloating, etc.
- Overwhelming stress
- Difficulty juggling all of life’s demands
- Abnormal labs like glucose, cholesterol and even fatty liver
- A bad temper with their kids or loved ones
- Depression and/or anxiety
What my clients don't realize is that the very things they want relief from are the very things that will be helped if they are making a point to be more active. Friends, let's not wait to have energy dropped in our laps before we decide to get to a workout class, go for a walk with our dog or join your friend for their fundraiser 5k. We need to do it regardless of how we feel. (Unless you are ill, of course)
The difference between the people that get their workouts in and those that don't really comes down to motivation. Don't decide to workout because you have to do it; do it because you WANT to. Do it so it helps you live the life you want to live - healthy, energized and ready to take on the world. The other big thing I lost in my hiatus from working out is my creativity. When I ran, I would get all kinds of ideas of how to do things in my personal and professional life. Exercise literally gets the energy flowing, the blood circulating to those far-reaching vessels and get you thinking in new, interesting ways.
Challenge: If you suffer from 2 or more things listed in the bulleted area above, I want to challenge you. Will you do this with me?
Step One: Make sure your doctor says you are cleared to start an exercise regimen first. One thing I deal with is low iron levels - it's something that runs in my mom's side of the family with the women. If you feel chronically tired, make sure you get a good physical workup to make sure there are no underlying health issues.
Step Two: Decide that you will do something active at least 3 days per week for at least 30 minutes to start. Choose something that you enjoy and something that works well with your current fitness level and health history. Tell a trusted friend or family member what days you plan to do it and what time of day. Be very specific, make your goals measureable and be realistic. Make sure you tell someone that will follow-up to make sure you follow through! Write it down and put it somewhere visually to remind you of your committment. Do this for 3 weeks.
Step Three: Add a day of activity to equal 4 days per week. By now, you really should be feeling some relief from your issues. Sleep is getting deeper, stress level seems to be more manageable? It's no coincidence! We were made to move, and this American lifestyle has a tendency to work against. Nowadays, we must be purposeful in getting more activity so our bodies work the way they were meant.
Step Four: Keep it up to where you are getting at least 10,000 steps (or the equivalent, biking and swimming are often not able to be tracked in steps) in physical activity each and every day.
Need more help? One of our dietitians here would love to sit down to make very reasonable food, nutrition and exercise goals for you that you can accomplish to maximize a life well lived. Give us a call at 972-422-9180 as insurance covers most visits. If you do not live in the Dallas area, you can find a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) in your area by going to http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert.
I'd love to hear from you! What is your motivation to exercise? That critical reason is the WHY of doing it. If you are taking me up on the challenge, I want to know so I can encourage you. Let's do this together - for the right reasons.