For years I have coached people on how to get fit and intermittently encountered clients who expressed disinterest in exercising. The obese clients I helped lose weight were not fans of exercising, but desired greater mobility.
Between those clients and my experience growing up with obesity in my family, I had never heard anyone say they absolutely hated exercising –– until recently, when I began getting a younger clientele.
Many of my younger weight loss clients grew up with a technology-induced sedentary lifestyle. Where they missed out on physical activity by allowing their interactions with technology to commandeer a significant portion of their lives. Constantly being stationary when connected to it, and gaining weight, versus getting out and being active, squashed their desire to exercise.
Furthermore, my clients had a wealth of fitness “experts” subliminally pushing their “be like me, not you” products as the path to social acceptance and success. But when my clients could not transform their bodies they felt ashamed, embarrassed, and undeserving. Self-deprecating beliefs thrived, and exercise became the enemy.
Armed with these realizations, I knew I had to engage these clients differently in order to help them reprogram themselves to accept physical activity as a way of life. Fortunately for many of them, their work had them exercising quite a bit every day––albeit unknown. One had to traverse the plant floor for ninety percent of the eight hour work day. Another worked at a botanical nursery, shuffling around heavy potted plants, squatting and planting flowers, and carrying customers’ heavy plants to their vehicle. And the other, a waitress, climbed flights of stairs, managing tables on two different floors.
When I told these exercise-adverse clients that I was going to have them walk for hours, lift heavy weights, stair climb, and do lunges, they had a conniption. Yet, when I illustrated how they were already doing that exercise while working…a light went off. It was a life-changing recognition that ignited a mental shift toward being open to physical activity as a way of life.
Let’s Be Clear
Walking is exercise. Dancing is exercise. Contracting (tightening) stomach and buttocks muscles is exercise. Lugging a gallon jug or a full grocery bag are exercise. Cleaning your home is exercise. So at the very least, do yourself a favor and accept that exercising is something you do and a lot of. Just challenge yourself to do more of it.
Don’t be fooled by how society has made you fear exercising. After all, you do it all the time. The word “exercise” gets a bed rap, just like the word “diet;” and yet they both are fundamental to healthy living.
A diet is merely a food regimen. Instead of saying you are on a diet, say you have “shifted to a healthier way of eating” like cutting back on processed foods or eating more vegetables. As far as exercise, it obviously requires movement. When you lunge to remove a piece of trash off the floor, welcome the fact that you are exercising. The important thing is to accept a healthy diet and exercise as a way life.
Now, consider how mobile you are presently in your life. As a matter of fact, you are probably content that you are capable of freely moving and doing as you please. So why not increase your physical activity to improve mobility, have a healthier body, and feel better about yourself?
Don’t Make “Exercise” Taboo
Negativity towards exercise is a learned behavior that can be overturned.
When I had a fractured foot, running was out of the question. I knew if I ceased exercising for six weeks, while wearing the boot, my post-injury recovery would be long and arduous. I decided to take advantage of any moment to exercise. Doing leg lifts with the heavy boot cast. Standing from the seated position using one leg. After six weeks, when my boot was removed, I was surprised by the strength and muscle definition in both legs. My respect for calisthenics (using one’s body weight for resistance) skyrocketed after experiencing my physical change.
So the next time you lunge to pick a piece of trash off the floor, try lunging five times before you actually pick it up. In the office, use your chair and do triceps dips. Then sit and lift your legs holding them elevated for one minute. Put music on while cleaning and dance your heart out. Opt to park far away from the front door of a store. Take the stairs whenever possible. Do pushups with your toddler sitting on your back. Walk or bike instead of driving.
Simple shifts in your perspective can do wonders for your well-being. Now stop reading and tighten your stomach muscles for one minute … rest for 30 seconds … and repeat two more times. Do this every morning and night, and increase the time and repetitions when ready. May you live in great health!
Wishing you happiness.