Having trouble getting motivated to exercise - on the first day of the New Year? Wanting to do better in 2009 than you have in previous years? Sometimes a little thought up front -- before you get started -- can help you be more successful. So today, before you set your resolutions, spend some time thinking about what might help you move from wanting to exercise to actually doing it.
Ask yourself why you want to exercise in the first place. Exercise has many benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol; helping with weight management; and improving blood pressure, circulation and sleep, among other things. If you have diabetes, for example, you may choose to exercise to control your blood sugar because you know someone who has experienced long-term complications from the disease. A picture of that person taped to the refrigerator can be a daily reminder of the need to exercise, and it may help to keep you motivated. For many of us, the primary reason to exercise might be for weight loss. So a picture from thinner days may help give the same visual motivation. Regardless, once you know your reason for wanting to exercise, use it as a motivational tool.
Secondly, focus on a specific exercise goal. This will be different for each person, but needs to be realistic so that it’s attainable. Pick the type of exercise that best fits your likes and physical abilities or limitations, and always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you pick something that you enjoy doing, you’re more likely to stick with it, and it can be anything from joining a gym to dancing or walking around your neighborhood. If you pick an outside activity, also pick an inside activity for the days that the weather prevents you from going outside. This way you won’t fall prey to blaming your lack of exercise on the weather.
Be sure to figure out the best time for you to exercise. If you are not a morning person, then you are not likely to get up and do this before you go into work for the day. Any time is fine, but find the time that works best for you, and then pencil it on your calendar. By scheduling it into your activities, you will be more likely to carry it out.
Think about how often you are going to exercise. Even though your ultimate goal may be 30-60 minutes most days of the week, if you are not exercising now, this may not be realistic. Start off with two days a week to get yourself used to it, and then add another day a week once you have accomplished your goal and are ready to add more.
Once you have met your goal, be good to yourself with a reward, because you deserve it. Think about this ahead of time - it provides you with more motivation to meet your goal. You might treat yourself to a night at the movies, a manicure or something else you enjoy.
Barbie Haas is a registered nurse who works through the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center with patients who have diabetes. The center offers regular diabetes management classes, as well as a Diabetes Support Group. For more information about diabetes or weight management, call 865-977-5767.