Fitness and exercise can feel like too big a challenge, so let’s just push to become more active and get fit. That can mean adding in a simple stretch or a walk around the block. Any movement is better than no movement.
If you’re not fit, then you don’t need any high-pressure labels. So, let’s simply take ‘action’ by being ‘active’ in some way, every day.
Look at your schedule and see where there is time for action. You don’t think you have two hours to get to the gym, change, work out, change and get home again? Ok, let’s start small. Can you find a minute before breakfast or two minutes after work?
Just as you wouldn’t start climbing a mountain at breakneck speed, you can slowly ease yourself into action. Find a few minutes and use them to stretch. Reach to the ceiling or gently roll your neck and enjoy the feeling. Over time, try to build from two minutes of action to five.
You know you need to exercise. I know you need to exercise. Add it to your daily to-do list and do something active every day.
If you stretch before breakfast for a minute, then write it down. If you walk to the end of your street, then write it down. You’re more likely to exercise if you hold yourself accountable, and after five days you’ll have at least five minutes of exercise to show for it.
You might not be at the top of the mountain yet, but you can see you’ve made a start!
For me, my falling fitness level was tied to an increasingly busy lifestyle and stress. That taught me that it’s good to make time to breathe.
Right now, as you’re reading this, take a deep breath in and feel your chest swell. Now breathe out slowly. Try to push all the air out of your lungs.
Mindful breathing can help us focus, so find something you do every day and use it as a reminder to enjoy some relaxation and deep breathing. You might decide to breathe deeply while waiting for the coffee to brew or as you water your plants. I do it after the kids clamber out of the car for school and I have a moment before driving away and tackling the next part of my day.
You won’t get far up that mountain if you don’t take time to breathe and assess your progress.
Take a break. We’re all busy, and it feels like we just don’t have any time, but are you sure you can’t squeeze in a five-minute break from what you’re doing? Hard as it might be to believe, your productivity may go up if you step away for a moment. A break to walk from one side of the room to the other or to step outside can help you refocus while adding crucial action moments to your day.
If you do take a moment to walk around your place of work, then don’t forget to write it down. Every step takes you a little higher up that fitness mountain.
You’re more likely to stick with your daily actions if you can find a way to balance your new activities with your daily needs. You still need to do your chores, keep up your social circle and all the other things that make up your day-to-day life. No one wants to be boring, so find the right life balance. That means you need to add more action than you were doing, but don’t go over the top and become so active that it’s unsustainable.
To get all the way up that fitness mountain, you need to pace yourself.
Change won’t happen unless you make it. We can all wish and hope and dream, but we won’t get fit unless we take a first action step.
You have to be honest with yourself every day. If a day goes by and you haven’t had an action moment, then understand that you aren’t climbing the mountain. You’re standing still or even rolling back down.
Use your community to help you rebuild and get fit. Your family, friends and coworkers can help you clock up action moments and may want to join you as you steadily climb the mountain. You probably aren’t the only person you know who wants to get fit. Tell everybody what you’re trying to do, and your friends will motivate you. They’re likely to be proud of you for actively taking back control.
Climbing that mountain is easier if you aren’t struggling up alone.
None of my ABCs will help if you don’t commit to taking action. As you read this, I hope you feel motivated. Use that feeling right now: move your body in some way, stretch your arms out or take a deep breath and point your toes. If you’re feeling really motivated, then do a little wiggle and feel yourself smile!
Now that you’ve started, commit to taking a few more steps up the mountain each day. Pretty soon you’ll look back and see how far you’ve climbed.
Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness at Herbalife