01 Jan Jogging January
January begins with jogging.
There’s nothing like a run, no matter what the pace, to get your metabolism moving again after holiday excesses. However, I recognize that hitting the trails for a jog isn’t everybody’s favourite form of activity. This month, I want to help you find the motivation to keep your body moving all year, no matter what activities you prefer!
It is easy to understand the benefits of physical activity and recognize why you should be getting more of it but many people still struggle with following through on their fitness goals. Gyms are always packed with avid exercisers in the first month or two of each new year, but soon return back to normal as the new years resolution crowd falls back into their old habits. I want to help you stay active throughout ALL of 2017 and many years to come!!
Before we get started, I want all of you to check out this awesome list of physical activity benefits from the CDC. The benefits of physical activity are infinite and include weight control, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, strengthening muscles and bones, improving mental health and mood, as well as improving your overall physical health and longevity. Unfortunately, knowing the benefits of physical activity often isn’t enough of a motivator to overcome many other obstacles to being active. If this sounds like you, continue reading to learn how to get active despite the obstacles you face!
To ensure you’re active enough to get all of these amazing benefits, your goal should be to follow the recommended evidence-based guidelines for adults. In Canada, these guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity (meaning you work up a sweat and get your heart beating quickly!) aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. How close are you to reaching these goals? Check out the CSEP website for adult guidelines, children and youth guidelines, and other age groups. Also, remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting any physical activity routine to ensure it is safe for you.
Now, let’s get started breaking down those walls that are separating you from your physically fit self! The most important question to ask yourself is: what is it that keeps me from moving my body? Consider whether it is lack of time, energy, or enjoyment, too much pain, or anything else that comes to mind. Take a few minutes to meditate on this question and figure out your unique and individual obstacles. The first step to overcoming them is to recognize them!
Identify barriers – and tear them down!
LACK OF TIME: Making a trip to the gym 5 days per week can be very time consuming! Not only do you need time for your 30+ minute workouts but also you need to budget travel and shower time. It eats a huge chunk out of your day! It’s great if you can make time for this but if this is your obstacle to getting fit, we need to find some quicker workout options. Part of the CSEP guideline listed above reads “in bouts of 10 minutes or more”. There is research showing that spreading your physical activity out into 10 minutes chunks is just as effective as one long workout. You may have heard people say that “sitting is the new smoking” because many detrimental health impacts of sitting for long periods of time are being discovered. Doing one 30-minute workout and sitting all day might actually be less beneficial for improving your overall health compared to taking 10-minute physical activity breaks throughout your day.
Ways to Be Physically Active AND Efficient with Your Time:
A) High intensity interval training. Check out the evidence-based 7-minute workout and these 3 high intensity interval training workouts. These workouts are the perfect way to get your body moving in 10 minutes! The 7 minute workout is my go-to when I’m short on time but want to sweat a bit. I promise they’ll get your heart pumping and you’ll feel like you did a full workout even though it flew by!
B) Take the stairs. If you live in an apartment building or work in an office building, you have an easy cardio workout right outside your door. Even if you just have a few stairs in your house, all you need is one stair to do a stepping workout for 10 minutes! You could even get yourself one step that you can keep in your living room and do stepping workouts while you watch TV or hangout before/after work.
C) Stretch. Instead of sitting and watching TV, stretch while you do it. Or consider starting or ending your day with a few yoga sun salutations or the circle of joy (my favourite moving meditation that I learned at my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class).
LACK OF ENERGY: This one is quite a challenge for many people and can create a vicious cycle. Lack of physical activity will perpetuate the lack of energy, whereas doing some light physical activity will often improve energy levels. This is true for mood too. It is SO challenging to get up and move your body when you’re feeling depressed but it is the best thing you can do!! This is where understanding your motivator for physical activity is VERY important. Mind needs to triumph over Mood!
Ways to Feel Energized:
A) Use it before you lose it! First of all, make sure to take advantage of your energy when you have it. Is morning your most energetic time of day but you always wait to exercise until the evening when you have no energy left? You need to find a way to make time for exercise at the time of day that is best for your mind and body!
B) Fuel up! Proper fuel is essential for energizing your body to get moving! When you’re being active, you need more calories than a sedentary person would use. It can be great to use an app like My Fitness Pal that will tell you the amount of calories you need in a day to match your energy output. However, counting calories isn’t enough! To fuel your body effectively, you must eat the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Do you ever experience an afternoon crash in energy? Many people in North America eat a very carb heavy diet, especially at breakfast and lunch, which leads to large blood sugar spikes and crashes. To keep your energy consistent throughout the day, focus on eating protein and fats with each meal. Check out Harvard’s Healthy Plate for a simple and effective way to eat the proper proportions of each of these macronutrients.
C) Replenish! When we workout, our muscles use glucose for energy and we also lose electrolytes through sweat. Within 1-2 hours after a workout, you should eat a snack or a meal that contains carbohydrates (to replenish the glucose that was used) and protein (to help rebuild and repair muscle damage that occurs with physical activity). This allows for proper recovery and better performance for your next workout. The other piece to consider is replenishing your electrolytes. If you sweat a lot, rehydrating with water after a workout might not be enough. We lose sodium, magnesium, and other minerals in our sweat that can be replenished with a good electrolyte replacement drink. This is especially important for those of you working out for over 1 hour at a time. Gatorade and Powerade are often used after workouts as electrolyte replacements drinks but I prefer recommending more natural options with less sugar and no artificial colours and flavours. Try Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator or Ultima Replenisher.
LACK OF ENJOYMENT: Do you dread working out because you find it boring and it feels like a waste of your time? Find your passion! Ask yourself: what do I love doing? Consider hiking, swimming, soccer, baseball, ultimate frisbee, crossfit, dancing, or any of the numerous options for being physically active. All the time I hear people say “I’m not really a gym person”, “I hate running”, “I don’t like working out around other people”, etc. Recognize these barriers and work around them.
Ways to Bring Back the Fun:
A) Find an alternative that you do enjoy! Find a yoga studio you love, an adult sports club/team, a running group, a dance class, or anything that you’ll feel excited about participating in each week. It helps if it’s a group activity with friends so that you get the benefit of social time and accountability.
B) Don’t fear the personal trainer! Personal trainers can be expensive and intimidating but it is invaluable to work with someone who can give you a safe, effective, and individualized workout for your body. There are tons of different options now (at home, online, etc.) to make it more affordable and accessible for everyone to have a personalized workout plan.
C) Don’t let your mood get you down. It can take a lot of positive thinking and energy to get yourself up and moving! This can be a challenge when you are feeling depressed or not like yourself. This is the most important time to remind yourself how good you’ll feel once you get started! Develop a couple key mantras that you can use to remember your motivation to be active, get fit, and stay healthy. It can be helpful to find another person to be your physical activity cheerleader! My husband has learned that I’m always happier after a run and this makes him the perfect cheerleader. When I feel negative towards heading out for a jog, he is full of inspiration and encouragement for me.
PAIN: Pain is often an obstacle to exercise but light exercise can improve chronic pain. You will likely experience short-term improvement in pain during exercise because it triggers your body to release endorphins, which are our natural painkillers. It is also possible that exercising regularly will improve your pain tolerance long-term. However, always make sure to check with you healthcare provider before starting an exercise program because it is important to ensure you’re choosing activities that are safe and comfortable for you. Even though we know how amazing physical activity is for our body, the wrong kind can be damaging to your body. Need extra support to manage your pain? Consider seeing a chiropractor, osteopath, physiotherapist, or naturopathic doctor to address the cause of your pain. Naturopathic doctors can address your chronic pain with diet advice, herbal and nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.
Found solutions to all of these obstacles and still struggling? The most important obstacle to consider is lack of motivation! Nobody can tell you how to be motivated because it is unique and personalized to you and you need to find it within yourself. External motivation, such as rewarding yourself with treats for finishing a workout, won’t be as effective as finding your internal motivation, the internal feeling that drives you to succeed. Think of other areas in your life, what motivates you? Apply similar motivational goals to the physical activity part of your life.
Personally, motivation was a real challenge for me when I stopped competitively swimming and had to be active without a team, set practices, and an end of the year goal. I found my motivation by finding group workout classes that I liked, setting times in my schedule to workout each week, and signing up for races to work towards throughout the year. I have enjoyed participating in 5km, 10km, and 15km runs, as well as sprint triathlons.
Here are some tips to find your motivation:
- Set personal goals, both short-term and long-term.
- Sign up for a race or event to work towards. Consider signing up with a friend!
- Find a sport to join that has team accountability and competitions/shows.
- Find a buddy to keep you accountable and keep it fun.
- Ask yourself why you want to be healthy – for your kids, partner, or quality of life, and write down this reason. Remind yourself each time you’re deciding whether or not to work out
- Design a schedule for yourself instead of deciding each day whether you want to work out that day. It is helpful to know that you always work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for example, whether you’re in the mood or not.
- Encourage your family to get active with you instead of feeling alone in your activities. Encourage each other to play outside, go for walks, etc.
What will keep you motivated? And not just for a week or a month or even a year but what will be manageable for you for the rest of your life!