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Not in the Mood?

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Something holds us back from exercising. The problem is not usually a lack of desire, but often the way we approach physical activity.

Think back to your last positive experience with physical activity. How did you feel? Probably content, satisfied, relaxed and even more energetic. Most of us would like to experience these good feelings on a regular basis.

Yet something holds us back from exercising. The problem is not usually a lack of desire, but often the way we approach physical activity.

There is a direct correlation between how we feel and the level of physical activity we engage in, but let's face it, if we do not feel like doing something, we are less likely to do it. This is especially true of exercise. To reap all the great benefits and feelings from physical activity, we must create opportunities that allow us to participate in these activities.

Creative Coaching

One of these opportunities involves the increasingly popular concept of corporate and personal coaching, which encourages self-awareness and personal motivation. Companies and individuals are utilizing this service under the premise that people who feel better about themselves will be more motivated and, therefore, more productive. In addition, companies are trying to encourage people to discover their passions and interests to increase their motivation. It only makes sense that people should be working at what they enjoy. Recently, a company in Western Canada spent upwards of a million dollars on a gym for its employees. The facility is free, accessible, and may be utilized during working hours. The premise is that active, healthy employees will feel better about themselves and be more productive and efficient as a result.

Realistic Goals

Creating successful experiences in your exercise routine will improve the way you feel. Avoid setting yourself up for failure, as it will often leave you feeling worse than before you started. When I hear someone say something like, "I tried workout routines and walking programs, but they just didn't work for me," I often ask what he/she had been doing prior to the program and what he/she attempted at the onset. Often, these people take on too much, too fast. Instead, they could have set themselves up for success by starting slowly and then adding to their routines. For example, start a walking program with three days a week and add to it when that becomes a regular part of your routine.

I once had a client who was extremely motivated to speed up her recovery time after a car accident, but because she was impatient, her recovery time was extended significantly. She often ignored my suggestions to slow down and take days off to heal and, as a result, an injury that should have taken four to six weeks to heal took more than double that time. The old saying, "No pain no gain" does not always hold true. Instead, my client could have set herself up for success by starting slowly, then adding to her routine at appropriate intervals.

Personalized Planning

The more you succeed at your goals, the better you will feel. It takes seven to 10 positive experiences to replace inadequate feelings from a negative experience. Also, participate in things you enjoy. Why is it that we are always trying to take on things we do not really like? If you hate lifting weights, do not do it! Just because your best friend thrives in the gym does not mean you have to, too. Recognize your differences and your individual desires. Your chances of being successful will increase drastically if you set out to do something you enjoy.

You should not wait until you feel better to start a new activity. Rather, you should start getting active to feel better. Don't put it off. That will only make you feel worse. Think about it this way: What does it feel like when you put off something such as cleaning out the garage because you are waiting for the right time to do it? Every time you drive into the garage, you get that same nagging feeling until it is done, right? When you finally do the job, you often feel better about it because you have successfully completed the task and you are pleased with the results. The same is true with exercise. However, if you are having difficulty getting started, then plan to start your day with some activity. Rather than having it hanging over you throughout the day, do it as soon as you can. It may be as simple as a 20-minute walk before breakfast. You will feel good that you did it, and you will feel more energized and more productive.

Feeling Good

When we engage in prolonged physical activities, our bodies release natural hormonal substances called endorphins. Endorphins are morphine-like substances that promote pain tolerance and a general sense of well-being. Runners talk about a "runner's high." This is directly related to the release of endorphins as a result of exercise. Furthermore, physical
activity also serves as a wonderful way to flush out negative feelings that can overwhelm us or cause more serious health concerns such as depression or mental illness. Physical activity following a stress-filled day can help reduce residual stress. Exercise is a free and totally natural form of self-care!

Lastly, do not forget to reward yourself when you start that new activity or program. Give yourself some credit and a pat on the back. Remember, you know yourself best and you know what is attainable. Be honest with yourself and with the people working with you, be it a physician or other health or fitness specialist. Your success will depend on it and you will feel a lot better, too.

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