When you go online these days to look at Facebook, blogs, or even your own email, you can see lots of people proudly sharing their extreme fitness accomplishments. What you don’t hear nearly as much about are the people who are quietly maintaining a sane, consistent, moderate movement routine.
How do they do it, and what can the rest of us learn from them? Because unless you’re someone who naturally moves, you might need some inspiration to keep moving on a regular basis.
Here are 12 tools that I use myself or recommend to clients:
1. Expert advice – I mentioned my personal trainer in a previous post, and how he helps me find variety in my movement routine. Seek out recommendations from your treatment team (doctor, nutritionist, etc.) about the best movement plan for you.
2. Fitness trackers – Fitbits and similar wearable devices can keep you motivated on a weight loss, weight management, or weight gain plan. They help you stay mindful about your activity level so you can stay safe and not over-exert yourself, and still make progress on your goals. On the other side, my Fitbit will tell me when I’m sitting too much. It’s amazing how much activity these devices can track even when you don’t have a formal exercise plan. A restaurant server once told me she’d logged 17,000 steps since her shift started. Imagine the sense of accomplishment!
3. Journaling – Aside from the wearable variety, there are also fitness tracking systems and journals you can write in or update from your smartphone. You can explore applications like Map My Walk, My Fitness Pal, and guided journals like Fit Happens, where you can write about things like what you are grateful for, your goal to “live fit today,” and something you appreciate about your strong body. Journaling your process always helps, like writing about how you felt before and after your movement session. You can also create a chart or calendar that you update from home.
4. Stories – It can be very inspiring and motivating to read biographies and blog posts from people who are pursuing an active lifestyle – especially people who didn’t come to it naturally or easily.
5. Variety – Boredom is one of my own personal challenges with keeping a consistent movement routine. Other people like to do the same thing all the time. This is a personal decision for balancing your healthcare and self-compassion. Whatever the specific movement and however often it changes, moving needs to be a permanent part of your life and your normal routine.
6. Hydration and nutrition – While moving, we become inspired to eat healthy and hydrate. If I know I’m going to be walking on the hot beach on Saturday, I’ll start hydrating on Friday to prepare. Your body needs the right fuel to move. Speak to your treatment team about the specifics of your situation.
7. Equipment – The right clothing and shoes can support your efforts – literally. There are other essentials like sunscreen, and options like an armband for carrying your smartphone or digital music player. Walking poles, yoga blocks, resistance bands, and balance balls can all help you create your own home-based or portable fitness studio. What could make your movement experience more enjoyable?
8. Support – Maybe what you’d really enjoy is having a buddy or companion you can talk to while you’re moving. This can make the time go quicker, and you can help each other keep your commitments.
9. Schedule – I prefer to exercise early in the day, or you may like to blow off steam after work with some movement. There are plenty of ways to move even when you’re short on time. Whatever time works, put it in your calendar as an important appointment with your self-care. If an injury or vacation interrupts your regular schedule, recognize in advance that these things happen, and book it back in your calendar for later.
10. Creative multi-tasking – Try doing some philanthropy while you’re walking, like carrying a bag and picking up trash along the way. Or how about an art walk where you gather found objects to create something with later?
11. Nurture – It’s always important to add the restorative part of movement – stretching and cooling down your muscles, restorative yoga, or using a foam roller to improve your mobility. This reinforces that movement is a self-loving activity, not a punishment or torture session (instead of “no pain, no gain,” my philosophy is “No pain. No pain!”).
12. Portable workouts – Most of what I do with my trainer I can also do at home with a yoga mat and one or two hand weights, or in a hotel room when I travel. Your movement routine can be just as portable. Check out the Sworkit app for a huge collection of exercises with no equipment required. There are also lots of yoga apps.
If you’ve been searching for motivation to start or follow through with a movement routine, pick up some of these tools to get moving and stay moving!