Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).
Let’s face it – working out isn’t always something we look forward to. In fact, for some of us, it’s just not on our list of top priorities. If it isn’t, it should be. There are incredible health benefits of a regular fitness routine, like a reduction in the risk of developing diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Mentally, there is nothing better than a good workout to burn off excess chemicals and replace them with good ones that can decrease anxiety and depression.
It’s not difficult to change your attitude toward fitness; it’s all about looking at things from a different perspective. Consider the following:
Turn healthy actions into habits.
Each day, we make choices – lots and lots of choices. What to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What liquids we consume. What time we go to bed and rise in the morning. Who we interact with. How we spend our time. You may not realize it, but this gives us an incredible amount of power over the short-term (daily) and long-term (our lifespan). Spend the day tomorrow really considering how your choice of what to eat might affect your energy levels, body weight and overall health. Look into how much (or little) sleep you’re getting and whether the people you choose to spend your time with are encouraging or depleting you. Opt for the healthy choice in each situation, put those decisions into action and soon it will be second nature to choose an apple over chips and an extra hour of sleep over one more episode on Netflix.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is a terrible trap, but, at some point, we all look at others and wonder what we’re doing wrong. Why are they reaching their goals and celebrating successes while the results of our diet and fitness routine have plateaued? Why do they seem to be well-rested and stress free? Why is he/she seeing a target number on the scale, while your number is significantly higher. The secret to overcoming this natural tendency? First, take a good, long look in the mirror and make a list of all your incredible attributes. Turn to a trusted friend or loved one and ask them to offer a few kind descriptive words so that you can see how others see you. Next, apply the suggestions from our first point, “turn healthy actions into habits.” But make these decisions for what is best for you. We are all unique, with very different body types. To reach our fitness goals, it is important to take a personalized approach and realize that what is best for one person, may not be the ideal workout or diet for another.
Change your thinking.
Don’t see a good workout as punishment for bad behavior; see it as a way to boost your confidence and learn to love your body. All too often we tell ourselves, “I had that piece of pie for dessert,” so that means I’ll need to work out XX minutes longer. Or, “I enjoyed that backyard picnic a little too much, so now I’m going to have to spend X amount of time on the treadmill.” A good workout routine should be something we enjoy doing. There are so many possibilities when it comes to planning a unique fitness routine. Don’t see exercise as a way to punish your body for enjoying something sweet once in a while; turn it into something that you do because you love the way you feel after a great workout and because the benefits of regular physical activity means more energy, more confidence and a longer lifespan.
Do it because you want to, not because you have to.
Just like working out should not be used as punishment, it is equally important to understand exactly how physical activity can benefit your overall health and wellness. If it’s more energy you need, working out can eliminate the body of excess chemicals, while encouraging a natural sleep routine (which can lead to more energy). If you’ve gained some weight over the years, exercise can help you slim down and firm up. If you want to spend more time with a friend or loved one, but can’t seem to find an activity that both of you enjoy, take up hiking, swimming, biking or other sports. The possibilities are endless, but it’s up to you to find the one that works best for you. Make it fun and meaningful and you’ll find yourself actually excited for the next workout!