The hidden secret to regular exercise
Exercise is often thought of as only a means for weight-loss or punishment. But you do not need to ‘earn’ your food! Shifting your thinking to how you feel when you move is more likely to motivate you to exercise and continue to keep going.
If you relate ‘dieting’ with exercise you may stop the exercising when the dieting stops. Now ‘dieting’ is not something I advocate at all and can add to the association that exercise is a punishment so you don’t learn that exercise can actually feel good!
What are the benefits of exercise apart from weight loss?
Exercise is the ultimate self-care tool. There are many non-weight benefits to keeping active such as combating stress, improving your sleep, improving your confidence and self-esteem, improving your mood which you can read a bit more here
So how do I shift my thinking?
There is a lot of evidence that shows if you enjoy what you are doing you are more likely to continue. This is based on the ‘Hedonic Theory of Motivation’ which means you are more likely to continue with activities that make you feel good! But how can exercise feel good I hear you say?? Well, learning to notice how different activities make you feel during and after the activity is a great way to start.
Think about the following:
Notice how it feels to move your muscles, how your breathing is changing how your heart is beating. If you are exercising outside you may also notice how it feels to be outside with the wind on your face, the feeling of being free away from it all!
Tune into how your body is feeling- are your feeling more motivated, proud that you have done it, does your mood changed do you feel less stressed, more energised? How does your body feel- is you heart is beating faster, are you hot etc? What about sleep? Do you sleep better or more deeply after you exercise?
How do I find an exercise or activity I enjoy?
Asking yourself a few questions can help you find out which exercise you could enjoy.
How do you like to exercise- alone or in a group? Inside or outside?
What have you tried before, how did you find it? What did you like or dislike about it?
How do you want to feel afterwards- relaxed or energised?
After answering these questions, write a list of 5 activities you would like to try. Then set a plan to try them out.
It might be a good idea to try out your activities at different times of day- try it out in the morning, lunchtime or evening to suit which suits you and your lifestyle better. You may find morning is best or lunchtime as it breaks up your working day or even in the evening as you have finished all your duties and can switch off from everything else.
So how do I keep on exercising?
To continue doing any activity long-term, it is always important to think about any motivating factors or barriers.
Consider what makes it easy to for me to be active? Is it the time of day, is it marking it in your diary like an appointment, is arranging childcare so you can actually do the activity?
Next explore the barriers to exercise -Is it lack of confidence, or lack time for exercise or it is fear of discomfort or pain? (do remember to seek medical advice before you start something new especially if you have existing health problems)
If you have identified a few barriers have a go at writing them down and exploring a solution to overcome them. You might find it useful to refer back to the list of how to find an exercise you enjoy to give you some ideas.
I hope this gives you a few ideas to find exercise more enjoyable and how to make activity part of your day to day routine which is not focussed on weight changes!
I explore this in more detail during my consultations to help you find a way to be more active, doing something you enjoy! To find out more book your call here.
The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch