Uncle Bradley’s Words of Wisdom

After last weeks post, I received the following question anonymously:

I guess what I need today is some words of wisdom about how on earth do I motivate myself to get out and walk. Cannot seem to leave the house, except for briefly, or on designated chores like grocery shopping. but then I want to get back as soon as possible. Even walking around the block daily, although simple in my head, is daunting in reality. I have no idea why, but that’s unnecessary, I just need to do it.

I have prayed about it, but even that is not working. I know walking would be good for me, but sheesh, cannot take the first step. Even if I do get it together, rarely, to get out and do it for one day, and think to myself, “How good this feels,” it does not carry over into the next day.

Any words of wisdom on exercise, would be totally appreciated

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds like you have taken some great steps to try and motivate yourself to get out and walk, but none of them are going to work if you aren’t truly motivated. Perhaps walking isn’t your thing. There’s plenty of options to get out and shake your booty. Don’t keep pushing yourself to do something that is not in your nature. That only leads to self doubt and shame, which will only make it harder for you to get the exercise you need.

Since you mentioned walking, let’s stick with that first. Walking does not have to be an event in and of itself. Where do you park your car when you go shopping? Are you one of those who drives around for an hour hoping a space near the store opens up, or do you just casually park at the end of the parking lot and enjoy a brisk walk into the store? What about stairs? Do you take stairs or do you take an elevator? When the option is available I try not to take an elevator less than 2 or 3 flights. In those instances I choose to walk up the stairs. There are plenty of ways to be creative during the day and try to get some exercise in without having to “go for a walk”.

Do you like dancing? You don’t have to go to a club to dance, you can dance anywhere. The middle of your living room is the perfect place. I have a collection of songs on my iTunes called “Energy”. I can pop in energy and begin dancing away and burn a lot of calories while having a great time. It’s also something I can do while cleaning house which makes it less of a chore. Put some high energy music on and I can shake my ass while cleaning the toilet or washing dishes. Doing this not only gives me the exercise I need, but I get some chores done AND most importantly, it lifts my spirits.

Have you tried a gym? They can be intimidating, but there are plenty of cardio machines there. Is it easier for you to walk a treadmill rather than going for a walk? How about a stationary bike? Swimming?

The key is to be creative and get your body moving anyway you can. Once you get stuck in that slump and stop moving then it becomes harder and harder to get the exercise you need. Rememember it’s one day at a time. In fact, it’s one hour at a time. Remind yourself that you don’t have to exercise forever, but you do need to exercise for a little time today. That’s all. Tomorrow will come around tomorrow and that’s when you can decide if you want to do some exercise again.

I’d also like to suggest a walking partner to help keep you motivated if walking is what you want to do. If there is a mall near you, most now have walking clubs that begin about an hour or so before the malls open. Near me there is a walking club that meets on the beach each morning to start their day. I’d guess there’s something similar in your area.

Once again, I want to point out to be creative. Don’t think of it so much as “EXERCISE” that must be miserable and that I must do for a certain period of time each day. Take baby steps throughout the day. Don’t allow your body to become too stagnant. Move, move, move in one way or another. And keep trying different options to find the right kind of exercise that may work for you best.

Lastly, the tougher part of my answer. Sometimes Anonymous, you’ve just got to do it. That’s the cold hard reality. Hopefully some of the suggestions I listed will help.

Uncle Bradley’s Words of Wisdom appears every Friday. Questions can be placed on any comments section during the week or email if you prefer to be anonymous. Remember to consult your physician before beginning any type of health or fitness plan.

Finally, a reminder, that I am not a physician or therapist. I am just a regular guy giving my own opinions based upon my personal experiences.

7 comments on Uncle Bradley’s Words of Wisdom

  1. Great points, Bradley. Another thing to consider is just what it is getting in the way of exercising. In my case, I learned to be still and silent as a survival mechanism when I was an abused little kid. I have anxiety attacks when I get up and move around much to this day. So for me, it helps to work with my therapist on the issue behind it, as much as the actual issue of getting exercise. That type of thing might be something to consider or work on in therapy.

  2. One thing that worked for me, accidentally. I was given a camera and now I find I’m much more enthusiastic about going for a walk. I love to take pictures while I’m out and about, and to be out and about I need to walk.

  3. Bradley,I found your post helpful, I struggle with similar issues but have found a gym in a small town that is not intimidating. Thanks for the advice. Annie

  4. It is hard, the one rule that has helped me is.Do not beat yourself up, each day past is just that past.Keep trying, you may have to not try for a day, or so, to get the energy to try again. This is natural and needed. It took me a long time to understand this.Patience with yourself while maintaining the drive to improve is difficult. Think about it!! It’s an oxymoron, it’s okay I failed, I have to get better!! And we have to maintain this thought in our wonderful brains.I used to try to come up with tricks, and motivations, but those would only work once if at all. Realising that my past behaviour was a survival tool makes it easier to understand why it is hard to change. Survival is a big motivator and even better reinforcer. Any behaviour that is reinforced naturally by survival is going to be very hard to stop, the only way is to keep trying, do not beat yourself up and congratulate yourself for any tiny bit of success.Negative reinforcement does not work. But it is natural for us to do especially to ourselves.Just keep trying.

  5. Bradley~I gained about 100 lbs, due to psych meds. It made walking both painful as well embarrassing, as I felt extremely self-conscious. At the end of last year, my room-mate tore her ACL and underwent surgery.Which left me to walk her dog Griffin. He got half an hour in the morning, an hour before dinner and a later half an hour walk. I was depressed when I started, and worried that I couldn’t keep it up. It was truly a struggle.After about a week, my spirits lifted. I began to enjoy walking around my neighbourhood. Afterf our or five months, between the walks and following better eating habits, I’d lost thirty pounds.People in the city often need reliable dog walkers. If you have a friend who cares about their dog, they’d be happy to let it get some extra out-door time. Just one idea to toss in with all of your marvelous suggestions.

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