Fit for the long haul
Make it your new year’s resolution to ready yourself mentally and physically for the long road ahead
“IF YOU DON’T LIKE SOMETHING, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit.
One of the most common myths for getting fit is that it’s all about diet and exercise, right? By default, you will improve from an intervention of regular exercise and better nutrition, but it all starts with the head. You must be ready mentally before seeing long-term changes and here’s how to do it.
Behaviour change is difficult. It requires not only developing the motivation to change, but learning how to maintain motivation over time.
A useful way of understanding how and why people change their health-related behaviours has been provided by the transtheoretical model or the ‘stage of change’ model.
The model is designed to describe the process of how people change and the fluctuations in motivation that can occur when making change.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY STAGE OF CHANGE: ASSESSMENT TOOL
Try this brief series of questions (see right) based on Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model* to see where you are at.
Once the stage of change has been determined, it is possible to take appropriate action using the tailored strategies outlined in Table below.
THE STAGE OF CONTEMPLATION
Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it, but have not yet made a commitment to act. That thought usually happens when we take time out from work, to recoup, wind down and consider new changes to how we fell, what our goals are and what we want.
Perhaps you’ve considered starting a physical activity program — you’re just not sure when or how. You may want to think more about what it means to get fit or try some small steps first. Regular physical activity enables your body to run smoothly. Active people have more energy than inactive people do. And there are lots of other benefits too:
• helps prevent bone loss, reduces risk of heart disease
• helps prevent or manage high blood pressure and diabetes
• improves alertness
• improves sense of well-being
• helps you to look better and boosts energy level.
With any behaviour change, there are adjustments to make in your normal routine. To help prepare, make a list all the reasons that you expect to benefit from physical activity and keep this list in a place you can see it daily.
An important step in changing any behaviour is the ability to visualise success. Take a moment to consider each of the following images that you see as being milestones to your ultimate shape or feeling. It could be the end of first day of your new training program where you are smiling because you did it and enjoyed the feeling of looking forward to the next session.
It could be a few days later where you remove sugar from your diet because you know this is one thing you don’t need. It can be a few weeks in to the program where you are in bed and it’s so warm that getting out would be the most ridiculous thing you could possibly do … but you get out anyway and put on your runners. You go outside and it’s cold but you soon warm up and do your workout that you could have skipped.
You have the control to decide and you decided against all the things that said ‘no’. Pause on each before moving on to the next. Give yourself time and let the thoughts sink in and become a part of how you think of yourself.
It is possible to visualise yourself being physically active. If doubt creeps into your mind, return to this exercise to imagine success again and again.
Picture yourself being physically active – healthier and more energetic than you’ve ever been – looking forward to the day with enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
NOW TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Asking the right questions to get you started is important. Use these questions as a guide:
1. Which activities do I enjoy the most and can start doing right away?
2. Do I want to choose an activity I can do alone or with my family?
3. How do I fit physical activity into my lifestyle?
How we do anything is often how we do everything! It’s then important to realise that regular exercise, good nutrition and healthy lifestyle needs to continue through the working day because it’s how we do everything that counts.
Please note: It is recommended that you screen yourself for potential risks prior to participation in physical activity. This can be done using the interactive Adult PreExercise Screening System (APSS) tool at www.exerciseismedicine.com.au.
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