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Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Winter is finally loosening its noose on the weather at my house.  I’ve actually gotten to walk twice in shorts during the last 10 days.  Nothing feels better than bare legs after a long winter.  It’s so exciting to think of all the walks ahead of me that I won’t need a coat, gloves, scarf and a hat.  I love spring and I love walking in spring.  Here’s why:

  • I know that even if the weather isn’t perfect today, a sunny and warm day is never far away like it was in January
  • I love to look at the wild flowers and flowering trees
  • I love to hear the birds sing their hearts out
  • I love to watch the new tree buds slowly unfurl into bright green leaves
  • I love to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin
  • I love the minimalist walking wardrobe of warmer weather
  • I love to people and dog watch while I am walking at the park
  • I love to feel the warm breeze on my skin
  • I love to walk the dog in the light of day after work instead of in the cold and dark of winter
  • I love that I am always motivated to walk outside on a beautiful Spring day

If the spring weather is motivating you to take a walk don’t forget to put on sunscreen and bring extra water for you and any children or dogs that are walking with you.  It’s also a good idea to keep an umbrella handy in case of unexpected spring showers.  Also, don’t put the gloves and hat away just yet.  Keep some cold weather wear in the car or work so you won’t skip a walk if the weather turns blustery.  Last, check out your local and state park spring activities calendars which will be filling up with nature hikes, wildflower hikes and educational activities for you and your children.

What do you love about spring walking? Will you be walking more frequently or taking longer walks now that we have longer daylight hours?  Has spring come to your house yet? 

Next Post:  Is Trying to Get Fit Stressing You Out?

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Routine – customary or regular course of procedure; habitual.

Routines give us predictability in our day, help us remember all of the things we need to accomplish and help us get things done more efficiently.  Take your morning routine for example.  As you start your work day you probably do the same things in the same way at about the same time every day.  This highly developed morning routine is necessary to get everyone out the door on time.  If you were forced to change up your routine every morning it would take a lot longer to get ready and you would probably forget something important like feeding the cat, giving your children their lunch money or letting the dog out.    

In much the same way that your morning tasks are easier under the framework of your morning routine, meeting your exercise goals is also easier if you assign a place for exercise in your daily routine.

Without a daily exercise routine:

  • You can forget to exercise
  • You exercise only for the time you have left rather than for the time you plan
  • You can lose sight of your fitness goals
  • It is easy to go down the slippery slope that starts with skipping a day ends with skipping every day. 

If you haven’t been successful keeping up with your exercise goals, could it be that you have not established exercise into your daily routine? 

Try giving exercise a priority status in your day like you (should) do for sleeping, eating, working, and spending time with your family.

Take it slow.  As you work to establish your new exercise routine it is more important that you exercise every day than it is for you to exercise a long time every day.  Commit to your exercise routine at the same time everyday for a minimum of 10 -15 minutes.  Nothing too strenuous.  Keep your new routine manageable as your body and your schedule adapt to the new routine.  You will have plenty of time to commit even more time and effort once your new routine is established.

I’ve been using this approach recently as I try to incorporate meditation into my daily routine.  Like most of you I need fewer things to do in the morning not more…. and that is why I rarely have time to meditate for more than 6 minutes each morning.  The important thing is that I have meditated every morning for the past two weeks.  I look forward to these precious minutes of quiet and solitude.  At some point in the future I may find a way to increase the time I meditate but I’m not worried about that now – the important thing is that I am giving meditation a place in my routine every morning.

It can also be helpful if you use a prompt in your day that will push you to exercise at that time.  I have 4 prompts in my work day that push me to walk:

  • After I park my car I walk 7 minutes to the office
  • At the start of my lunch break I walk for 20 minutes
  • At the end of my work day I walk another 7 minutes back to my car
  • When I get home from work my son and I walk my dog for 20 minutes 

Because my prompts for walking are so specific it is nearly impossible for me to forget to walk.  I have developed such strong habits for walking at these times that it is truly a part of my day as much as eating or sleeping.  As you work on developing your exercise routine try to work prompts into your day so that exercise will become an important part of your day.

Checklist for starting an exercise routine:

  • Give exercise priority status in your daily schedule
  • Find a way to exercise every day; use prompts in your day that will push you to exercise
  • Focus on the daily habit.  Don’t try to do too much too soon.
  • Keep at it even when you don’t want to – you will love yourself if you do
  • Try not to miss a day for at least the first 10 days
  • Do it for you.  Tell yourself frequently why you want to exercise every day
  • Make it real – tell your family and friends about your new exercise routine or write about it in your journal;
  • Find support in a friend, an exercise group or Walk Today

One last thought…If the thought of starting an exercise routine now, in the dead of winter, leaves you feeling blah don’t feel bad.  It can be very hard to motivate ourselves to start a fitness routine when it is cold and gray outside – maybe that is one reason our New Year’s fitness goals don’t always work out so well.  Spring will be here soon so now is the perfect time to start planning an exercise routine that you can start once the snow melts and the temperatures rise.  I hope these pictures will remind you of the warm days ahead and will inspire you to start planning a spring exercise routine today.

Chicago, IL

Henderson, KY

Gordonsville, TN

Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN

Tell me how you plan to start or change your exercise routine?  Will your routine change when Spring comes?  Does your routine change from workday to weekend?

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“It’s not the work that’s hard – it’s the discipline.”

                                    -Anonymous

There are times when I don’t want to walk.  

Sometimes when it is really hot or cold or raining or my backpack is really heavy with work stuff, I resent having to walk up the long hill to work.  I dream of a parking space right next to the door of my office building. 

Sometimes I don’t want to walk during lunch – I’d rather read a magazine or talk with my co-workers while enjoying a leisurely lunch. 

Sometimes on the drive home from work I dread the thought of changing clothes and going right back out the door to walk my dog. 

We all have those days. 

The question is how do we motivate ourselves to get up, skip the work shuttle, spend part of our lunch hour walking and walk the dog when it’s really the last thing we want to do?  

I always have a list of reasons that I want to walk in the back of my mind that I think about whenever I’m tempted to skip a walk.  Something on this motivational list almost always gets me out the door to walk even when I rather do something else or nothing at all.  Here is my list:

  1. I know I’ll feel guilty if I skip my walk. 
  2. I know I will have more energy after I walk then before I walked.
  3. My walk during lunch will be my only ‘me time’ I have.  Why skip that?
  4. I can’t disappoint my dog.  She has waited all day for this walk.
  5. I know I will be in a better mood after I walk than I was before I walked.
  6. If I skip my walk eventually my jeans won’t fit – I hate trying on jeans.
  7. I love to walk on a sunny day in winter and a cloudy day in summer.
  8. I know if I don’t feel like walking then that means I need a walk.
  9. I’ve never finished walking and thought “I wish I hadn’t done that.”
  10. If I walk then I can eat chocolate guilt free. 

My list gets me walking about 99% of the time even on the days when I have no motivation to walk.  Are there days that you don’t want to walk?  How do you motivate yourself when you get the urge to skip a walk?  What’s on your list?

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Imagine stepping out your door, the sun is shining, big billowy clouds are casting playful shadows, a slight breeze blows and the temperature is a perfect 72.  On a day like this it’s not hard to get motivated to go outside and walk.  Once outside in the perfect sunshine your walk is effortless and enjoyable and you walk longer than you planned. 

Back to reality….like last week’s record breaking cold snap which submersed half of the country into bitter cold.  At my house last weekend the high temperature averaged 23 degrees.  Since the average high in January is a bearable 45 degrees, a high of 23 degrees is COLD!  Despite the cold and despite my threats to the contrary I managed to forego the shuttle and walk 8 minutes uphill from the parking lot to the office and, of course, I walked the dog – she even got an extra long walk on Sunday when it warmed up to a balmy 27 degrees.

Even though it is easier and certainly warmer to take a shuttle or to stay inside on a cold winter’s day, the next time you are tempted to avoid winter’s cold, grab your walking shoes instead and you will be rewarded.  Believe it or not, winter is one of the best times to walk outdoors. 

Winter Walking 

Why is winter one of the best times to walk outdoors? 

Walking outside in winter is peaceful.  There are so fewer people on the trails, sidewalks and public spaces that you often feel like you have the space all to yourself.   It is quiet.  You will notice the quiet in the park, in your neighborhood, on the sidewalks, almost everywhere…so many people avoid going outside that it offers the ones who do a tranquility that is missing during the rest of the year.  

Walking outside in winter gives you a different perspective on nature.  You will see a very different view of the landscape now that the trees are free from leaves and the ground is free from brush and sometimes covered with snow.  You will notice that on a sunny day the sunshine is brilliant and the sky is a deeper shade of blue.  If you are lucky enough to walk at dawn or dusk you will see the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets showcasing beautiful shades of pinks, purples, oranges and reds.  Amazing. 

Walking outside in winter gives you a breath of fresh air.  We stay cooped up during the winter with our windows shut tight.  Oftentimes the only fresh air we get is walking from the parking lot to a store or office.  Walking in winter will give you a big dose of fresh air and this winter air is healthier for you than the stagnant, ozone-laced air of summer.  Take in a deep breath and breathe.

Walking outside during winter keeps you away from the crowded track at the gym or community center.  Many of us start or renew our fitness goals with the New Year – we shouldn’t let weather be a barrier to reaching our goals.  A lot of daily walkers will tell you that walking outside on a cold winter’s day can be done almost every day.

Walking outside during winter will expose you to sunlight and that can help if you are prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year – most frequently in the fall and winter months when we are exposed to less sunlight.  Experts recommend treatments such as going outside and exercising as much as possible during fall and winter if your symptoms are not severe. 

Keep a Routine

It’s not always easy to motivate yourself to go outside in the cold, and sometimes dark, to walk.  One way to tackle this is to keep a routine from which you rarely deviate.  For instance, walk before work with a neighborhood friend, walk outside during your lunch break or walk as soon as you get home from work before you do anything else.  On those days when your motivation is low just tell yourself you will walk for at least 10 minutes and then you can stop whenever you want.  Most of the time you will continue to walk through your normal routine even though you have given yourself permission to stop early.

Another idea is to establish a shorter outside walking routine during the dead of winter…maybe 15- 30 minutes depending on the temperature….sometimes the most important thing is to just keep up the routine and get out there even if it is for a shorter amount of time.  Be sure to take advantage of warmer days, especially during the weekend, when you can schedule a longer walk to help make up for your shorter daily routine. 

Be Careful

You should be especially careful walking outside during the cold months of the year. 

  • Cold is relative.  Don’t try to walk outside if it is dangerously cold for you.
  • Wear a hat, gloves, scarf, wool socks and extra layers designed for cold weather.  You can always take items off if you warm up. 
  • Wear appropriate footwear for snow and ice.
  • If you walk in the dark or low light, walk in lighted areas, wear a reflective piece and keep a small flashlight in your pocket.
  • Walk in familiar and safe areas.  Stay aware of your surroundings.  Bring your cell phone.
  • Always drink water to stay hydrated.           

Give it a Try 

If you are tempted to let the cold keep you inside, bundle up instead and give winter walking a try.  Discover how enjoyable winter walking can be.  If you start an outside walking routine now, you will feel a remarkable sense of accomplishment and personal triumph every day that you conquer winter’s cold.  And just think how easy it will be to walk outside in a few short months when the weather is perfect.

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