Getting Physical – What to Do and What Not to Do

Getting physical isn’t about making a resolution, it’s about making a plan that fits you and your lifestyle. If you’re ready to get into action with more physical activity in your life, start with a plan.

Unlike a resolution, this is something you can start any day of the week, any month of the year. Or at this very moment. Then commit to try it for a few weeks to see how it feels.

A lot of people don’t stick with their programs because they try to do too much, too soon because they have an all-or-nothing mentality. This is a recipe for discouragement at best, injury at worst.

Healthy movement can heal body image issues by giving you ways to nurture the body and treat it kindly. When that is your focus, you’re less likely to do the things that harm your body, such as over-eating, under-eating or over-exercising.

Some of the most nurturing movement options include:

  • Gentle yoga
  • Walking outdoors
  • Moving to music (dancing)
  • Swimming
  • Relaxation
  • Simple stretching

To choose the right activities for you, consider your health issues, how much time you have, how motivated you are and what appeals to you. Once I worked at an agency and a lot of my co-workers were running 5Ks. One of them said, “C’mon, you can do it with me!” I jogged, but I’d never done a 5K before. When she told me she had placed first for her age category in her first event so I figured, “Hey, I can do this. Maybe I’ll even win!”

Well, it was a humbling experience. Not only didn’t I win, I didn’t even place. And it was an agonizing effort – I was so sore it took a week to recover. Running – and winning – a 5K wasn’t an appropriate goal for me. So please, learn from my mistake and consider your activity goals carefully!

To find time for physical activity, start small. If you’re already doing something, add a little more. Or to start, find 15 minutes – take away some TV time, reading time or even a little sleep time. Some find early mornings are best, so it’s out of the way, but anytime is fine.

I remember when I got my dog. Soleil is a BIG dog who needs to be walked a lot. It was too hard to plan long walks, so we did a lot of 10-minute walks. It wasn’t long before I noticed that I felt much fitter.

Little things add up. You may think that spending time in the garden is nothing, but it’s something. Not all of your physical activities need to have measurable outcomes. If you’re up and moving around, it counts! And when you add a little walk here and a game of catch with the kids there, you’ve got some significant activity! You can call yourself the ultimate cross-trainer.

Don’t underestimate the importance of clothing. I played tennis as a kid, and I remember my father saying, “You’re halfway there if you’re wearing the right clothes.” Just by putting on those tennis whites, I felt empowered and more confident in my skills. I hated to admit it, but my father was right.

Here are some things I don’t typically endorse, and why:

  • Intense activities such as running, ultra-long workouts, boot camps and hot yoga – we advocate for a more balance, nurturing approach to physical activity
  • Exercising outdoors by yourself after dark – we want you to be safe and not put yourself at risk
  • Improper footwear such as flip-flops or worn-out sneakers – these won’t provide the support you need and may lead to injury

As I wrote in a previous post, doing something – anything – is something. Just make sure it’s something that appeals to you and feels like you can keep up with.

This post was originally published on the White Picket Fence Counseling Center blog at http://whitepicketfencecounselingcenter.com/getting-physical-what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do.html.