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HEALTHY LIFESTYLES: Exercise is easy, once you get off the couch

When people hear what I do for a living they tend to grab a part of their body -- one they are not particularly fond of -- and say, "What do I do about this?" which is then followed by, " I know I should, but ... " That's typically followed by ex...

When people hear what I do for a living they tend to grab a part of their body -- one they are not particularly fond of -- and say, "What do I do about this?" which is then followed by, " I know I should, but ... " That's typically followed by excuses about why they have not made the healthy change.

We know what to do to become more healthy, our bodies tell us they like to move. We watch it, read it, hear it, but we choose not to, why? We know we will feel better, we know we will look better, and we know we will build confidence, which will lead to many positives about ourselves, so why don't we move?

What it really comes down to is change is very hard. It's harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even knowing these things are bad. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release "feel good" hormones, and satisfy us, plus we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.

If you are going to make a change in your life. You have to be ready for discomfort. At least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better, more comfortable, to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk and discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Once you have convinced yourself you are ready for change you must determine for whom you are changing. The obvious answer may not be the real answer. Deeply look at your motivation, are you the reason for the change, or is a parent, spouse, doctor, sibling, friend, etc. Is it someone else's idea or voice you hear?

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If it is not you; commitment is likely to wane.

Next determine why you want to change. As with the question of who, why is a critical factor in realizing a goal. Determine your why. Get passionate about it. Taste it, feel it, begin to live it. Immersion into an idea is supported by research and will lead to change. Find as many ways to support your new lifestyle, new activities, new thoughts, rewards, support, new ideas about how you could change your habits to support your new direction. The more pathways you create in your brain to support this change the more likely you are to succeed.

Motivation is a tricky component to reaching a goal. It can be so strong one day and absent the next. This means you must constantly find ways to motive yourself. You must be creative here. Decide that today I am going to walk for 20 minutes, and then look for ways to fit it into your day. Can you wake up a bit earlier, walk over lunch, after work, with your children or partner. Is time critical today -- do you need to break it down into increments? Look at the number of possibilities you have to reach the goal of walking 20 minutes. Enlist a friend or a supportive person to help make sure you reach your daily goal.

If you can step outside your comfort zone, make sure you are driving the change, and determine why you really want to change. Once you have done these two activities you have created a solid start to reaching your goal. Add passion and attention to your daily habits mixed with a lot of positive feedback and you'll be on your way. Motivation will come and go, but you'll be ready -- you are now motivated to stay motivated!

Lifestyle challenge

Decide what you will commit to change this week. Write it down, list out ideas for ways to stay motivated throughout the summer, and mark your calendar with a weekly goal for the next four weeks. On a calendar you look at daily. This way you'll have your start date, your end date, and your goals right in front of your nose!

Stacy Reuille-Dupont is owner of Superior Balance Fitness Center and Personal Balance Consulting. She can be reached at stacy@superiorbalance.com and stacy@superiorworkout.com or 392-9860.

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