Exercise forms a valuable part of how we can achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. But staying motivated is easier said than done.
No one knows that more than Cairns psychologist Dr Katie Richard, 45, whose weight ballooned to an unhealthy 80kg on her 160cm frame.
After two decades of binge-eating and unhappiness, Katie resolved to conquer the underlying psychological issues that sparked the downward spiral once and for all.
Through her own extensive studies and research, Katie says she finally found the answers.
She’s now 22kg lighter with a while new lease on life and teaching others the breakthrough methods in her new book Weight Off Your Mind, a step-by-step guideline to stop binge eating, lose weight and improve body image.
Below is an edited extract from the book in which she shares her secrets to staying motivated during the times you just want to slack off:
1. Just do 10 minutes
Starting can be the hardest part. This is the problem of inertia – getting going. Think about doing the housework … then do it. Was it as bad as you thought it would be? The same thing can occur with exercise. Once you get going, you’ll be fine. Never make the decision not to exercise while you’re lying in bed. If you’re going to make a decision about exercise in the morning, get up, go to the toilet, drink a glass of water, then decide to ‘just do 10 minutes’. If you’re not used to exercise, don’t do an hour walk on your first day. Do 10 minutes the first day, then build up from there even if it’s in increments of 5 minutes per day or week. I’ve seen too many people get burnt out or injured by doing too much too soon.
2. Do something you enjoy
If you didn’t like the exercise you did, try something else until you find something you like. You can also find someone in your life who likes exercise. Find out how it is that he or she likes exercise and what exercise it is. Next time you meet a friend, arrange to meet for a walk rather than for coffee or lunch.
3. Exercise outdoors
Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School found that exercising in a park, especially if it’s near water, increases people’s enjoyment of exercise.
4. Jumble up what you do each day
To maintain interest in exercise and make your workouts more efficient at calorie burning: e.g. walk one day, do weight training the next, swim the next.
5. If you prefer not to go alone
Take a dog, friend, neighbour, spouse, relative, colleague or someone who’d like to join you. You could ask at least two of your colleagues to join a team and compete against another team of 3. See if you have an employer is willing to provide a prize to the winning team. If you don’t have a work team, get together with neighbours or friends to make up a competitive team. If you prefer internet support, go to www.walkingwithattitude.com
6. Remind yourself of the benefits of exercise
Although exercise is only about 20 percent of weight loss, remember that you’re not exercising only to lose weight. You’re exercising for the other benefits too: e.g. stress relief, regulate your oestrogen, testosterone, insulin, etc – see above benefits list.
7. Think about how much you’ll regret not exercising
Research published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that this is a very powerful motivator.
8. Sign up for a charity walk or run
Good for you and good for a charity
9. Put exercise on the agenda of the day
Then make it a habit: some people do it first thing in the morning so it’s out of the way. Others prefer to do it after work to tune off from work. Exercise is best if you do it at the same time each day. For example, wake up at 6:15pm, exercise for 30 minutes, then get ready for work. If you ‘don’t have time’, do the quick exercises recommended by Dr Mosley or ensure that you change your day to fit in 30 minutes of exercise. There’s nothing wrong with incidental exercise e.g. using the stairs instead of the lifts, walking to shop, parking car furthest away, etc. I still think there’s something wrong if you do not have 30 minutes to spare in your day to exercise. Apparently, even prime minister Tony Abbott found time to exercise.
10. Stop the excuses
I’ve heard people say ‘it’s raining’ to which I reply,’do you have an umbrella?’ In my case, rain is simply not an excuse because my dog, even my cat, demand a walk despite the rain. In summer I actually like it if it rains when I go jogging as it washes off the sweat and keeps me cool. If you really don’t like the idea of walking in the rain, make sure you have a back up plan for rainy or cold days e.g. do a workout DVD at home in the comfort of your home.
11. Unlearn your old ritual
Bear in mind that if you haven’t engaged in a particular activity (like jumping out of bed the minute the alarm goes off), it will be difficult to change that ritual. Fortunately, ANY activity you do, can be unlearned. I use the word ‘unlearned’ because if you stay in bed after the alarm goes off, it’s probably because you’ve trained yourself to do so for many weeks/months/years. The training initially involved you finding evidence for your behaviour e.g. ‘I’m too tired, it’s too cold, just a few more minutes to relax, it doesn’t matter if I stay in bed longer, I won’t enjoy it, etc.’ The way you unlearn this behaviour is to find reasons for the opposite behaviour i.e., jumping out of bed the minute you wake up. The first few days will involve you having to force yourself to do this together with evidence as to why it’s good to do this e.g. ‘it’s not worth it to waste time in bed, it’s cold anyway, I have to get up anyway, etc.’ After a few days, you will notice that you will do this automatically. Some people find that giving themselves a penalty for getting out of bed late helps e.g. having a cold shower. Others find that giving themselves a reward for getting out of bed helpful e.g. buying a new pair of shoes.
I personally programmed myself to wake up without an alarm many years ago (I very rarely set it ‘just in case’) I get out of bed within 5 minutes of waking unless I have not slept well (e.g. dogs barking, lightening, excitement about something, etc). I walk my dog for 30 minutes, then do my formal exercise (about 38 minutes) and then only am I ready to start the day.
12. Keep going
If you have one day when you slip back into your old ritual, don’t engage in ‘all or nothing’ thinking i.e.,’ I didn’t exercise today, so I just can’t do this.’ Instead remind yourself, ‘it’s just a little lapse’ and get right back on track. Just do 10 push ups or sit ups while watching TV – something is better than nothing at all.
13. Reward yourself
Each time you overcome a hurdle e.g. buy a new pair of shoes once you’ve gone to your first gym session
14. Overcome morning fatigue
Most of my clients identify not having time to exercise due to feeling too tired to wake up earlier in the morning. Typically, morning fatigue can be due to a variety of factors including stress, dehydration, vitamin B deficiencies or iron deficiencies. If this applies to you, ensure you drink enough water, discipline yourself enough to go to bed (rather than sit up watching TV til late) and are nutritionally taking care of yourself.
15. Prioritise success over temporary embarrassment
Some people say to me they want to go to gym but ‘feel too embarrassed about being so fat or sweaty’ to even go to the gym. To this I say,’what’s more embarrassing: being fat or going to the gym to stop being fat? What’s more important: your goal of managing your weight or your pride? In addition, for how long do you think you will feel embarrassed: 10 minutes, 30 minutes? How many other ‘fatties’ do you think you’ll encounter? Do you really think you will be the only person in the gym who is not skinny? Will other people really be as bothered about you being fat or sweaty as much as you are? Even if they thought you look sweaty or fat – does it matter?
16. Find an exercise that fits your budget
If it’s an issue of money, make sure that you choose an exercise that fits your budget. Find out if your library has exercise DVD’s, or go to garage sales to pick up exercise equipment (in working order), shop around for equipment online, or shop around for gym membership costs at various different gyms in your area (work or near home). Some gyms provide a two week free trial membership. Bear in mind that walking and running are FREE (apart from buying running shoes). If you don’t like equipment or gym visits, try the fitness app body-weight workout PT in my pocket.
17. Get feedback
Keeping track of calorie burn or steps with a pedometer may help you stay motivated. Tap dancing burns 400 calories an hour, polka 540 and swing dancing 300 per hour. Running burns 600 calories per hour. Be aware that certain cardio machine readouts are not accurate – according to the US Naval Health Research Centre.50
18. Exercise with your favourite music
Some gyms have treadmills and cycles with TV screens with regular TV channels as well as other interesting scenery on them e.g. countryside of France.
19. Monitor your progress
Noting how you track between date A and date B, can have a significant impact on your commitment. Different activity trackers are available: for example, the Trackfit (by Fortis) tracks not only steps, distance as well as calories; the Pulse O2 (by Withings) checks heart rate in addition to steps. If you don’t want a tracking device, a simple pedometer will keep track of how many steps you take (this can be stored on your mobile too). For example, a 30 minute walk is about 3000 steps. Or, you can note down how many push-ups or sit-ups, lunges, etc you do at week 1, 2 , 3, etc.
20. Wear something great
Wear clothing that not only fits but also makes you feel good. If you go to gym wearing an old daggy baggy tracksuit, you’re unlikely to feel good. It need not be expensive.
- To find out more, visit www.weightoffyourmind.net