In the world of behavior change, the first step in creating any kind of lasting shift in your life is to know why it matters to you.
The new year has officially dawned. As we look ahead into the days and months ahead, it’s natural to consider what we want to do with them. Perhaps getting healthier or feeling better is on your list. You may have even gone a step further and decided this would be the year you would exercise regularly. Before you jump into any kind of exercise program, it’s good to get really connected to why you want to exercise.
There are many reasons to make exercise and movement a regular part of your day. With exercise, your brain is stimulated to grow new connections, you turn off your internal decay signal and turn on your growth signal, and you help to ward off dementia and cognitive decline.
While all of these, and a host of others, are excellent reasons to get moving, unless you personalize them by making them deeply meaningful to you, they won’t keep you moving for long. In the world of behavior change, the first step in creating any kind of lasting shift in your life is to know why it matters to you. The first reasons that come up may be closer to the surface, (I want to fit into those jeans again,) or based on what other people want, (my daughter keeps telling me I should exercise more).
Sometimes these surface reasons can create resistance because nobody likes to feel like they are being bossed around. Notice if that resistance comes up, and keep asking the question, why do I want that? Once you get to the heart of what you really want, quality time with the people you love, or the ability to keep hiking in those incredible mountains you love, you will have found your reason to get moving.
Once you have your strong why, it’s time to make a plan. Create a routine that you will stick to. Imagine how amazing you will feel after you move your body, invite friends to join you, or go solo, deepening your connection with the earth. There will be days when you don’t feel like following through on what you had planned. The best thing to do on those days is to at least do something. If you are not up for a 30 minute walk, tell yourself you can stop after ten minutes - chances are you will feel much more motivated once you start moving.
One of the most important aspects of starting any kind of exercise plan is to start slow. Far too often the enthusiasm to get going, or to try new things, can cause injury. Start your movement program simply, and ease into adding more components or going longer distances, remembering to listen to your body along the way, and celebrate every time you honor your commitment to yourself.