Today, I’m excited to continue WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Today’s question is: Fitness Friday. What do you do to stay fit? Tell us about your efforts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
As I blogged about before, Pilates centers me. Since I answered a similar question in another WEGO challenge, I decided to expound on this subject with tips for staying motivated. Indeed, staying motivated can be a problem for many people, even people who don’t have chronic illness.
5 Tips on Staying Motivated:
- Focus on more than the physical: Most advertisements for exercise DVDs and gym programs center on “perfection” and weight loss. With many factors complicating weight loss (like genetics, illness, and treatment), we have to focus on something greater than perfection. I recently blogged on “4 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.” I have bipolar disorder. When I exercise to manage stress and fight depression, I stay motivated. More importantly, my moods are more stable.
- Instill variety in your exercise routine: Boredom kills motivation. After getting my autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis, I was bedridden for over a year. Once I was able to move again, I could no longer do the exercises I did before: yoga, jogging, and Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies. For five years, Pilates was all I could do. However, I kept myself from being bored by having a wide variety of Mari Winsor DVDs. I never did the same thing everyday.
- Make it visual: Every night before I go to sleep, I write my to-do list for the next day, which includes exercise. I feel successful whenever I cross exercise off my list, especially on days when it’s taken me hours to get out of bed because of fatigue and pain (I also have polycystic ovarian syndrome). One strategy that’s worked for me is posting a calendar on the refrigerator so I can track my progress.
- Get accountability: If you have hard time with internal motivation, it can help to have a partner. Whether you exercise with that friend or share your results with each other, you may see greater results. One of the things that makes staying healthy hard is that we live in a society where we eat together but rarely exercise together.
- Make modifications: There are a lot of things I can’t do but when I find an exercise I can do that’s challenging and fun, I am grateful. I know there was a time when I didn’t know if I would be paralyzed so I take advantage of my mobility, which is a gift. Some moves in my current workout require too much physical strength so I replace with them with slightly easier moves. I’ve learned not to take an all-or-nothing approach to fitness. If I’m depressed on a given day and I can only exercise ten minutes, I do the ten minutes. To find out if a workout is too hard for me, I preview it by watching a video on YouTube before purchasing anything.
- Get back up again: If you fall, get back up again. For instance, if you make a mistake and eat too many fatty foods one weekend, don’t give up. Whatever happened the day before, each day is a new start. I find that the more I exercise, the less my body craves fatty foods. The fewer unhealthy foods I eat, the more I want to exercise. It’s a cycle.
How do you stay fit?
Stay tuned! I’ll be answering more questions this month for WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
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