Are You Guilty of Situational Health?
4 Tips for busting the myth that exercise can only be done in a certain way, in a certain place, at a certain time
I know I am — guilty, that is.
But I’m getting better at recognizing the enemy, and more important, learning how to say no to temptation. It’s definitely not easy (like last weekend when I turned down a piece of double-chocolate cake at a neighbor’s birthday party.) Each time I make the effort, I mentally pat myself on the back, as if good has again triumphed over evil.
Recently, I had lunch with a friend of mine. Ron is a personal trainer at a local gym and offers his knowledge and services to novice and expert alike. In addition to developing exercise regimens for his clients, he also provides advice and recommendations on diet, nutrition, and self-care. In other words, he views — and practices — fitness as a total life commitment.
I love talking to this guy. Halfway through our lunch, I could tell something was on his mind. So I asked him to spill.
“I’m working with a new client,” he began. “He was referred to me by the gym‘s manager. Talking with him on the phone, we were able to pinpoint the areas of improvement that were important to him and how best to achieve his goals. He told me he was really looking forward to working with a trainer, to up his game and keep him on track. From the sound of it, I had the impression he followed a regular workout routine, and wanted me to help improve and enhance his training.”
From the look on Ron’s face, there was more to the story.
“How did it go?” I asked.
Ron seemed unusually irritated. “When we met at the gym, it was obvious the guy hadn’t taken care of himself. But I never judge by appearances, and suggested we start with a few stretches to warm up. The guy told me he never did that sissy stuff — always hit the heavy weights right upfront to get down to business.”
“So did he show up wearing an Iron Man Shirt?” I asked.
Ron shook his head. “As it turns out, he was on vacation and decided he’d take a few hours to “get back into shape” since he had the afternoon free. Said that’s what he usually does at home, every few months going to a gym to bring his body up to speed until the next time.”
It was obvious. Ron’s new client had fallen into the all-too-common quick-fix mindset that motivates so many to begin an exercise program, only to quit after a few sessions. Hoping an occasional tune-up with a workout video or a few sets with weights will magically kick-start their body into perfect form, they’re easily discouraged when they don’t see immediate results.
And then the priority of their physical health fades into the shadows. I thought about how many of us, myself included, allow our own fitness goals to take a backseat to what we’re convinced are more important priorities — our job, family, friends, laundry, social media, and (ug!) TV.
Why do we allow seemingly urgent, and typically unfulfilling, distractions to get in the way of making more important choices about our own health and longevity?
Here’s the Big Question: How do we turn “situational health” into daily lifestyle strategies that continue to motivate and inspire us to bring this important priority to the top of the list?
Here are a 4 tips on how I personally broke that much-too-comfortable cycle . . .
1. Work out at home. I already know what you’re thinking . . . “I don’t have time or the space.” That’s one of the great advantages of working out at home. Exercising doesn’t need to be scheduled as a regimented appointment. This came as a happy revelation to me — not having time to go to a gym was no longer an excuse.
In the beginning, I tried to plan it out (usually in the afternoon, after all the “important” stuff was taken care of.) But by the time my “workout appointment” arrived, there was always more left to do, and the idea of spending half an hour working out slid right off the schedule.
So try this: Clear your mind of the concept that exercise can only be done in a certain way, in a certain place, at a certain time. With just a few tools and guided instruction, you can start taking control of your time — and your health.
Managing your workout with minimal space. If you have a clear space on the floor, you can work out. Invest in a quality exercise or yoga mat and use it for stretching, ground-based poses, and low impact aerobic moves.
2. Grab extra seconds from your day. Growing impatient waiting for the tea kettle to boil? Do a set of squats or lunges — right there in front of the stove! (My husband has become accustomed to walking into the kitchen and finding me in various positions — your family may need a little more time . . .)
A friend of mine told me she’s building her upper body strength by doing leaning push-ups again the kitchen counter. Brilliant!
3. Use Instructional Videos and DVD’s. There are tons of them out there, each offering several “mini-workouts” for those with limited time. From them, you can learn a variety of movements and routines to utilize for those in-between moments during the day. You don’t need to commit to watching or finishing a complete workout — just do what makes sense in the time you have available.
4. Start by giving yourself the okay to re-evaluate your current work-out program or start a new one. Then begin creating mini-exercise breaks in your regular schedule to try a dozen stretches, followed by lunges, squats, or side bends. Alternate the types of movement to get the benefits of each as you go through your day.
Above all, have fun, and remember to breathe!