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Take the Longer Road

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We see stunning makeovers of average people on television and hear and read testimonials about the latest and greatest piece of equipment or program that transformed the regular Joe into a "chick magnet.

We see stunning makeovers of average people on television and hear and read testimonials about the latest and greatest piece of equipment or program that transformed the regular Joe into a "chick magnet."

These claims may seem like the ultimate solution but if it was that easy, we would not see rising obesity and disease rates. If the claim seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Convenience Affects Our Health

We are a society of drive-through, automatic devices and conveniences designed to make our lives easier. As a result we are less active. The repercussions this inactivity include an increased obesity rate, heart disease, diabetes, poor body image, low energy, and joint problems. We have surrounded ourselves with convenience and it is negatively affecting our health.

We have already made a choice for more convenient lifestyles but now we need to make choices to reintroduce activity into our lives. Recreating regular activity has proven to be extremely difficult for many. In general, the media is not helping. We are drawn to advertisements promising a complete body transformation with very little inconvenience. The solution is not the fabulous diet plans, specific equipment, or pills.

The main message we need to understand is that it does not matter how you move, as long as you are moving. Move anyway you can as often as you can. In the fitness industry we call this incidental exercise-activities like vacuuming, raking the leaves, walking to the store for milk, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. We need to make a plan and focus on developing the habit of moving more.

Your first goal is to move out of your current pattern of inactivity, and into a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Developing An Exercise Habit

There are five stages to successfully develop an exercise habit:

Stage 1: "Many of us hold negative associations toward movement - it's work," "it's hard," "it's not fun," "I'm not good at it." These perceptions need to change. Movement does not need to be structured, costly, or skill oriented. Just do something you enjoy.

Stage 2: Once you have chosen something you enjoy or something new you want to try, believe the fact that you need it, and that it will help you succeed in your personal exercise and movement goals. Focus on the positive rewards you will receive-increased energy, productivity, and higher self-esteem.

Stage 3: Harness your enthusiasm and make a plan. What are you going to do? Who are you going to do it with? When and for how long are you going to do it? What are your exercise goals? It is common to skip stages one through three; however, without all these stages your chances of creating and sustaining a new exercise habit drop considerably.

Stage 4: Act on your plan. Once you start implementing your plan you have created a behaviour. Reinforce your behaviour with positive statements and rewards.

Stage 5: Repeat your new behaviour and you will develop a habit. Depending on various factors, a new habit can develop in 21 to 90 days. Focus on incorporating movement everyday. If, for whatever reason, you don't follow through with your plan, refocus for the next day. Don't let a few bad days affect the big picture.

Making a significant lifestyle change is not easy and many factors may become obstacles along your journey.

Make moving a habit, do activities you know, and try new things. Remember-it does not matter how you move, just move!

Seven Elements of a Successful Lifestyle Change

To be successful, be sure to incorporate these seven required elements:

  1. Make a plan. Decide how much time, effort, and money you are willing to commit and follow through with it.
  2. Embrace change. Step out of your comfort zoneand try something new forvariety and challenge.
  3. Give and take. Replace your bad habits and expect some short-term discomfort. It will soon be replaced by long-term benefits.
  4. Progression. Set detailed short-term goals and objectives which lead to your ultimate goal and evaluate them along the way.
  5. Be persistent. Make your activity purposeful and enjoyable to keep you motivated.
  6. Be accountable. The possibility of success or failure is in your own hands.
  7. Believe. Think success to be successful.
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