Exercise for health not vanity - a sustainable mindset - ORLI

Exercise for health not vanity - a sustainable mindset

Posted on March 23, 2016 by ORLI

We can agree on one thing...most of us want a fit, healthy body. Fit healthy body in most minds equates to a flat stomach, a firm butt, defined arms and shapely legs.

The majority of exercise is undertaken to achieve this fit healthy body and to lose or to maintain weight. The problem is that when weight or a 'better body' is cited as the main reason for exercise, it increases the likelihood for exercise to be given up in the short term.

When individuals embark on exercise to lose weight, studies show that these are the following reasons cited for eventually giving up.  42% say it's too difficult to follow a workout regimen, 38% say it's too hard to get back on track once they have fallen off and 36% give up because it's too hard to find the time. Approximately 72% of individuals overall give up exercise if their main reason for exercising was to lose weight.

I'm no health or fitness coach but I am passionate about living a healthy life and believe that it is simple for anyone to incorporate exercise, it's just a matter of thinking about it a little differently. I appreciate that we all have differences but my point is if I could do it...MOST people CAN too :)

Until I got to my mid 30s I always found it hard to keep to any exercise. There was always a reason for me to give up at some point. That is, until I realised the key was to change my objective for exercising in the first place. About a decade ago, I decided to ditch the scales (and fantasies of chiselled arms and abs).... and to adopt exercise purely for health.

I decided to place less emphasis on what exercise I did as long as I did it. I didn't fret if it was cardio training or weight training, I just did what I could when I could. The main thing for me was to get out and get moving.

We all need to find an objective for exercising which is independent of weight loss. I swapped my objective from losing weight to 'clearing my mind' and shaking off stress. As a mum of three, life can get pretty hectic and there can be very testing moments. Getting out and doing a run or a brisk walk was an instant tension reliever. All it took was 30-40 minutes. Let's face it not a lot get's done in 30 minutes. The dirty dishes can wait a little longer. 

Setting achievable goals. When it comes to sustainable exercise, sometimes it's best NOT to aim to high. Whilst some people can fit in the 5.30am exercise 4 times a week, I set a target of medium paced cardio exercise just twice a week,  30-40minutes each time. I found I could achieve that fairly easily and it felt amazing to meet those goals. If I could squeeze in another session, it was a BONUS, not a target.

Keeping exercise really simple but slightly varied. Even if it's walking it is possible to vary the route. Perhaps a brisk, long flat walk one day and for the next session opt for a shorter, slower walk involving hills and steps.

Exercise has to make you feel good. Don't choose a form of exercise that you dread. Exercise should take you to a happy place, it's just a matter of finding which one. I do 2 runs a week on my own which I really enjoy for the escapism and to allow my thoughts to flow uninterrupted as I place one foot in front of the other. I compliment these cardio sessions with a weekly pilates class;  which I do with friends. There's lots of banter and laughs during those sessions. Simply said, I look forward to exercising because it's fun.

If you have fallen off your exercise goals, the only thing to do is to get back on again. Sometimes the hardest part is putting on those runners. Once they are on, get out and hit the pavement. Even if you don't run, walk. If we haven't exercised for a while accept that some fitness may have been loss but it's okay to start slow and build it up again. Don't be too hard on yourself. Much better than not resuming exercise at all. 

Whenever possible, try to exercise outdoors. This may not be practical for some people but nothing compares to breathing in fresh air. It clears your head, fills up your lungs and keeps you connected to your natural environment. Australia affords us a wonderful climate for outdoor exercise and it would be such a waste not to use this free commodity.

The eastern philosophies have always embraced gentle, beautiful exercises that date back thousands of years. Yoga and tai chi have withstood the test of time and is still widely practised in many parts of the world. The fundamental objective of these ancient exercises is improve the flow of energy throughout the body and to focus the mind. Weight loss and 6 packs are not the goals. These exercises are traditionally practised by people throughout their lifetime.

When you find an exercise routine that is achievable, enjoyable and sustainable everything else will fall in place. It is important to incorporate exercise that can be adhered to over a long period of your life. As with most things, it is what you do over a long period that matters the most to health and vitality.....Long term healthy approach to food vs diets, daily nourishment and care for your skin vs quick fix cosmetic procedures.

Find the right exercise and your body will find its optimum health which will lead to optimum weight over a period of time. Exercise should be approached the same way as you would food. Adopt a healthy sustainable long term relationship with exercise, food and beauty. When you do it for the right reasons with patience and tenacity you will see the results.