(Yoga with my friend Kat at Shine Yoga Garage. She does in-person yoga classes at her yoga studio in her garage and also offers her classes through Zoom)
We all know it is important to exercise and be active, yet we don’t do it. Exercise is the top desire in new year’s resolutions to losing weight and getting fit. However, when starting an exercise regime it can feel exciting for its “newness” at possibility of change, but is quickly replaced by the distractions of the day-to-day responsibilities, old habits, old thoughts and beliefs, and life changing events.
So how can one stay focused throughout life and all its ups and downs? I offer you some guidance into what has made me understand my failures at exercising and why I’m still motivated and excited to exercise every week even now two months into my re-commitment to consistent exercise.
Normally I write about diet and nutrition, but a large part of getting nutrients into the various cells of the body rely on other functions running well in the body. Exercising increases the availability of oxygen into your cells along with that increased availability allows the quality nutrition you are eating to also be more available to be used by your body’s various needs.
Science shows that you can benefit from exercise no matter what age you start at. Physical activity has been shown to increase the “good” cholesterol HDL, lower incidence of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, psychological impairment, colon cancer, and back injury. Research shows physical activity can also reduce symptoms in those who struggle with mental health as well.(1)
The first thing when starting a change, especially a behavior change like exercising regularly, you need to really commit yourself. Proclaim to yourself or even sign your name to your own contract that you are going to exercise X times per week to feel _______,_______, and _________. If you haven’t truly committed yourself at the beginning then old habits will most definitely keep playing out in your life. To keep up with my commitment to myself, I have a daily reminder go off in the morning that says “Body Movement 20 minutes”. No matter what I commit to some kind of movement every day, some as a class and some however I feel I need.
Know Your Why
Know why you are wanting to exercise. I mean really why are you? Go beyond the “I want to lose weight” or “I want to gain muscle”. Those can definitely be apart of it, but that isn’t what is going to anchor you when you are overwhelmed, anxious, angry, or discouraged. What is the reason you are going to stick with it? It could be I want to be able to enjoy playing with my kids or grandkids without pain or discomfort? I want to have energy to do the things I love more fully? Write it out and post it somewhere to remind yourself why you are exercising when events and other things distract your focus and commitment.
Science shows we are more likely to be happy and stay with our exercise routine longer if we feel connected with others while doing it. I’ve been to several classes and gyms that give a great workout, but the community just didn’t fit the depth of connection and spiritual connection I wanted with others while bettering myself through physical fitness. Not to say that is what everyone wants, but it is important to figure out what you need in your community to feel connected in a way that is meaningful to you.
Know How you want to FEEL
This I find to be the missing piece to any commitment for most people, especially exercise. Noticing how we feel versus how we want to feel can put focus and direction when being challenged or distracted. I notice when I have committed myself to become strong and flexible in my body I can ask myself what I need to do to feel those things in any given day. I feel more energy because I truly want to feel freedom in my body and get excited after every active movement taken when I show up everyday giving me that moment of feeling more space and freedom in my body. Getting to those feelings of excitement and freedom motivate me to continue to be active and keep building my joy around exercise. How can you build joy around exercise? How can you let the way you feel propel you forward into moving more for your body? How do you want to feel?
Know Your Excuses
Knowing what your patterns are that sabotage your desire for success are crucial to you maintaining momentum. We all have thoughts and beliefs that tell us “I don’t have time”, “I’m too tired”, “I don’t want to drive there”, “I don’t want to leave the house”....... And the list goes on. If you quit exercising before, what were your reasons? How can you work with them?
For instance, when I struggled with being consistent with exercising I would let go of the habit because of winter time either being sick, tired, or more often than not worried about the icy road conditions being unsafe for me to walk to and from the buildings. So I’ve found having the flexibility to do online workouts and in-person workouts to fit my needs. As for being sick or tired, I’ve found that simple stretches and yin style yoga to be helpful. I’ve also understood morning workouts work best for me. Even if life gets busy and I have to change my workout time I always find a time in the same week to replace my normal time. So what are your excuses? Write them out and figure out ways to work with them.
Just Move (No Matter How Small)
It’s okay if you can’t go or simply don’t want to exercise at the gym. I get that. I don’t either and I’ve tried several and still couldn’t find what I needed. To start I started with a simple 10 minute a day yoga free 30-day challenge. From there I challenged myself to move my body for 20 minutes a day, so whether its walking my dog at the preserve or setting my timer for 20 to shovel the snow the point is to move. If you’re wheelchair bound, do movements you can do sitting down or laying down on a bed. I promise there are many movements you can do no matter what mobile status you are in. Remember to check in with your body and to stop doing any movements that are painful.
Plan According to What Fits Your Life Right Now
We all are busy and have life intervene with our well designed plans, but plan for life happening. It's okay if your schedule doesn’t look the same from one month to the next. Or that something comes up on the day you’ve planned to workout and don’t show. Plan another day and time that works that week. Know yourself and know your time. Are you best and most motivated in the morning or afternoon? Do you have mobility concerns when traveling in winter? Perhaps consider doing your work out at home? Can’t motivate yourself to do a workout at home, find a community that works out online and in person so you can still keep up with your fitness schedule and connect with similar value relationships. Meet yourself with where your exercise needs and desires are right now, not with what others are doing or what you think you should be doing.
If you’ve tried all these things and still are struggling, let’s chat. I offer 30 minute Pain Breakthrough Sessions to help you understand what is blocking you and bring clarity to what your best next step is for you. Send and email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your session today!
Blessings and Love to you on your health journey,
About the Author:
Ariel Zimmerlein Beauchamp is a nutritionist, health coach, farmer, and speaker. Ariel helps get to the root cause and reverse chronic symptoms of those with chronic gut and/or brain health conditions who are often challenged by pain, digestive issues, depression, and anxiety. Ariel focuses her practice on nutrition, stress, and environmental toxins with a special interest in mental/emotional health.
She uses her B.S. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, a functional medicine approach, and her lifetime experience with chronic illness and childhood trauma to empower other to live life fully regardless of the circumstances they have been given. She runs her therapeutic farm and health coaching business, AZ Farm & Wellness. She loves to grow food for its inner and outer healing benefits.
To learn more and work with Ariel, visit her at www.azfarmwellness.com.