“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, it controls you.” Tony Robbins.
A few months ago, I revealed that the secret to making healthy living easy was finding your sweet spot in everything you do. The post reasoned that if you could find a way to actually enjoy your healthy choice, then you would willingly choose to continue the healthy activity into the future – making it into a habit with repetition.
To sum it up, the sweet spot is about working within your comfort level and doing what you must to increase your enjoyment level of the new lifestyle habit. Reader Julie was curious as to how to go about finding the sweet spot. Since most people consider exercise the most challenging change, the following post explains how I developed a taste for daily physical activity:
Finding the sweet spot in physical activity
Health Canada recommends 30 – 60 minutes of daily, moderate exercise to get the full benefits of physical activity. Based on this information, I started with 30 minutes a day of walking. If that’s too much for you, break it up into three 10 minute jaunts throughout the day until you can do the 30 in a chunk.
Walking (a.k.a. hiking) is more like fun and relaxation than exercise to me. I barely break a sweat and because the outdoors holds so much variety, I don’t even notice my increased heart-rate. I sometimes meditate, visualize my future, meet interesting people and animals, get juicy, creative ideas, and even some time catching up with friends.
Here are a couple more ideas in how you can make walking more enjoyable:
Lunch hour. Try skipping your lunch once or twice during the week. Grab a piece of fruit and get out of the office for some fresh air. You’ll get your exercise in and de-stress from the morning at the same time.
A.M. walks. The mornings are arguably the sweetest time of the day. Why not enjoy the crisp morning air, dew covered grass and pink-orangey sky while getting in your exercise first thing?
Family time. Instead of sitting in front of the boob tube, grab the whole family and get outside! Walk in the neighbourhood or drive to another and investigate your city. When it gets cold outside, walk a mall or wherever your creativity leads you.
Getting bored is your clue to step it up a notch
After a few weeks, I needed more challenge in my routine. I added 5 core exercises every two days. Again, I stayed within my comfort level, keeping the repetitions to a minimum while I was getting used to the exercises.
“It’s easier to go fast than to go slow. Learning how to create momentum is the answer to breaking through all perceived limitations.” Jill Koenig, www.goalguru.com .
Especially for strengthening exercises, it’s important to get down the proper form. When I felt that I had the exercises down to a tee, I increased the repetitions of each exercise. At the next stage, I tried a more advanced version for some and swapped the others for different exercises altogether. All these changes added the variety and challenge I needed to keep physical activity entertaining.
Since then, I’ve added interval training into my routine (alternating between walking for three minutes and running for one). I made this more enjoyable in several different ways: by listening to MP3s, playing with…er, I mean using a heart-rate monitor, and adding wrist and ankle weights.
What else can you do to be active?
There are SO many different forms of physical activity to choose from! Pick the ones that you know you’ll like first, master them, and then break free from that routine. Experiment with new forms of activity and form a new routine until you get bored again.
Here are a few activities that you may not have even realized could be considered exercise:
- House cleaning
- Home repairs
- Playing with your children
- Join a team – volleyball, softball, bowling, etc.
- Sign up for a class – yoga, pilates, self-defence, etc.
Some of the above suggestions are especially helpful when you’re low on energy but still want to get in your daily quotient of physical activity. Multi-tasking works so well here on so many levels, wouldn’t you say?
Find the sweet spot in all healthy lifestyle changes
For all healthy habits you’d like to adopt, find what level works best for you and change it up if you need to in order to make it more enjoyable. By actually finding pleasure in your new healthy habit, you’re using positive emotional energy to produce action and creating momentum in order to get the most effective results.
Finding the sweet spot in healthy living is about patience and practice. It’s about moving deliberately and with intention. You have a goal to reach health. Find out what you need to do to be healthy and make it work for you.
“Being an adult means sometimes doing things you don’t want to do. Successful, happy adults take what they have to do and find a way to enjoy it!” Stephanie Miller, Head Health Nut.
Do you have an example to share of finding the sweet spot in a healthy habit you recently acquired?