A MENTAL HEALTH MINUTE – Unlocking Exercise into Your Daily Routine

Getting regular exercise can do wonders for your body and mind. Whenever I feel an onset of stress and anxiety, exercising helps me to reset. However, it wasn’t too long ago when I sometimes felt it was impossible to get myself motivated enough to even move a muscle. During that point in my life, I was on the edge of 220 lbs and had poor eating habits comprising of fast food and greasy Chinese take-out on a regular basis. In addition, I was carrying the weight of depression on my shoulders. 

With a family history of diabetes, heart problems and obesity, I needed to change my lifestyle to include a healthy dose of exercise.  

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s some tips that I used which you can try to apply: 

CREATE AN ATTAINABLE GOAL. Do you want to be able to complete a 5km run? Would you like to shed a few extra pounds off for a wedding? Do you want to build on your personal well-being and self-esteem? As a single dad, my goals were simple: I wanted to be able to keep up with my son playing basketball. In addition, I wanted to use exercise as a tool to neutralize my stress and improve my self-esteem. Whatever your goal is, keep it close by to you, so you can turn to it whenever you need some extra motivation. 

START OFF SLOWLY. About 10 years ago, I signed up for a bootcamp class at the Port Moody Rec Centre. The very first class I attended was held outside at 6 am. Needless to say, I needed to hold a mental image of my goal to get me out of bed that morning. I started slowly by going one time a week for several weeks. I then slowly worked my way up to twice a week, and eventually every day, while allowing my body to rest on weekends. To this day, I’m so glad I registered for the class because I’ve made some great friends along the way who keep me accountable in a non-competitive environment. You don’t need to sign up for a bootcamp class or Spartan Relay right away just because everyone is doing it. There’s a ton of other fun options to get yourself moving such as: walking, gardening, dancing and bike riding. 

PACE YOURSELF…IT’S NOT A RACE! I don’t believe in quick weight-loss programs, so I was happy with just dropping a few pounds every few weeks. I also slowly weened myself to a healthier diet, but never denying myself occasionally of the things I enjoyed eating, like a good old American hot dog topped with the works! It was all about moderation and knowing my limits. It’s a whole lot easier to keep with a program when you pace yourself towards your goal, rather than sprinting to get there. 

BE PATIENT. Reaching your goal takes time and patience. For long lasting results, there’s a lengthy process of hard work and commitment. I stopped comparing myself with others and worked on my personal bests. It took several months before I physically saw results and my weight fluctuated for a while before stabilizing. Each person will get different results, so remember, in addition to being patient, be kind to yourself and STOP comparing yourself to others! 

Lastly, have fun in the process! There’s a ton of apps that can make exercising more enjoyable. Exercise with friends and make sure you have a good time doing it, or it’s easy to derail and give up.  

Always remember to discuss your fitness goals with your family doctor and/or certified trainer before starting any rigorous activity. 

Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Cat

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