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Tell Your Inner Critic to Shut-Up and Get Moving

Tell Your Inner Critic to Shut-Up and Get Moving


Here are 12 steps that'll get you off — the sofa, that is.

We all know that we should be more physcially active, but how do we get there? No guilt trips or lectures about being a couch potato or doing you about what you need to be doing. Chances are, any number of well-meaning family members or friends started doing that long before I came along. 

What I want to do is offer you simple ways to keep yourself motivated to maintain the kind of active lifestyle that makes sense for you. I want you to choose reasonable activities and go at your own pace.

Here’s how: 

1. Tell Your Self Critic To Shut Up.  

Sure, for some people, the feeling they've hit bottom, and can’t possibly be any lazier, can be a great motivator for getting active. But, for the rest of us, all that self-criticism just leads to feelings of shame and paralyses us with the thought that we're too far gone to even start. Stop listening to the part of yourself that makes you feel bad and embrace your inner cheerleader. Intention is the first step toward change. You're already on your way!

2. Visualize.

What are you hoping to get out of your more active lifestye? More energy? Staying healthier? Managing your HIV symptoms? Think emotional benefits: More self-confidence?  Less stressed?  Be clear with yourself about your goals and create an optimistic and realistic image of a more active you. What does the active you look like? Thinner? Happier? Better rested? Keep that visual at the front of your mind. This is what you’re working toward. 

3. Be Realistic.

For some people, staying active means training incessently for the next marathon or extreme sport event. But most of us need simpiler goals. Take a realist look at both your limitations and what your body is capable of. Whether it’s running, walking, moving your arms, lifting your legs, or some combination, approach upping your activity level with awareness of how your body is most likely to cooperate, as well as benefit. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or injury. The more realistic your goals are the more likely you'll succeed in reaching them.

4. Talk to Your Doc.

If you haven’t already had a discussion with your health care provider you need to do so as soon as possible. Tell your doctor that you’re looking to increase your activity level. Ask for any ideas, as well as any precautions you should take. You want someone familiar with your medical history, current state of health, medications, and limitations to tell you how to safely increase your activity. Definitely let your doctor know if you are contemplating any major changes. For example, don’t consider pushing yourself toward an activity level that is beyond your normal routine, or purchasing equipment like a stationary bike, without a sign-off from your doctor. 

5. Find Activities You Enjoy.

Do you like dancing? Working out alone? Playing b-ball with your friends? Take an inventory of the things you enjoy that involve some kind of movement. Be creative in making your list. Include little things (like petting your dog) and big things (like hiking). Add chores like vacuuming the living room, fun things like taking a walk or bowling, and activities for different types of weather. Again, keep in mind any limitations you might have. Even pacing back and forth, or doing arm lifts with a can of tomatoes while you watch TV, will up your activity level. Staying active doesn’t have to involve doing traditional exercises. Getting fit doesn't have to be a chore.

6. Try Activities You Don't Love.

While you'll find activities you enjoy there are other things you should try doing, even if you don’t love it. The goal here is to experience the benefits of staying active. While it certainly can be fun, it’s good for you even if it isn't. A healthcare professional might have a few ideas that, while not so enjoyable, can be of benefit. And yes, staying active just might mean building in some actual exercise. 

7. Consider Adding Toys.

Get your mind out of the gutter (or don't: sex is a great way to stay active). Adding something as simple as a 5 pound weight or a beach ball can even make exercise you don’t enjoy doing a little more fun. Try out video game activities designed to get you moving. For example, you can bowl, box, and play soccer using Nintendo Wii or Xbox.       

8. Buddy Up.

Enlist your partner, another family member, or a friend to help you stay active. Go on walks together, play games, share your goals and limitations. Not only can it be more fun with someone else, research shows that other people keep us accountable and help us reach our goals.   

9. Think Small.

Set small goals. Really small. One of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to up your activity level is to set goals you can’t possibly meet. If you expect to turn your life upside down tomorrow with a complete revamping of your schedule, or if you expect to be 10 pounds lighter in a week, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. The longest journeys start with a single step. Even scheduling just a few minutes of active time a day is a small yet meaningful step. Move forward slowly, making gradual increases in the amount of time you spend being active.

10. Stay Focused.

Remind yourself of your goals and visulaizations. Use them to motivate yourself every day. Modify your vision as needed.  

11. Keep a Diary. 

To see the  strides you are making it helps to monitor your progress daily. self one day at a time. You might want to consider keeping a written record of your daily activity. Wether you jot down notes on a calendar or write detailed journal entries, keeping daily records can be a good way to keep yourself accountable, and making that daily checkmark can also be motivating. You might also consider one of those wrist bands that counts your steps for you and tells you how well you’re sleeping: these devices can be useful tools for monitoring your progress. 

12. Sprinkle In Motivators 

To keep yourself active try sprinkling motivators around your house and workplace, so you'll see them throughout the day. These can be reminders to get yourself moving: sticky notes for example, or inspirational sayings and positive affirmations, or images that remind you of your visulized active self. Play your favorite motivational song. Ask a friend or family member to be your cheerleader and regularly call, text or stop by to give you some positive encouragement. Just make sure you pick someone who can do that without nagging or criticizing you. 

Bottom line: don't listen to your inner critic. Instead, sit down with your doctor and define what getting and staying active means for you. Make a list of reasonable and realistic activities. Set small goals. Be your own cheerleader and ask your support network to help you stay motivated. Just keep moving.



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Gary McClain