Some people are motivated to exercise solely for weight loss. In my opinion, this is a mistake. Instead, we should understand that a fitness program has four main goals: lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, eliminating excess body fat, and building or toning muscle tissue. In the process, weight loss may occur. However, it’s just as possible that, as lean muscle mass replaces body fat, there might actually be a net gain in body weight because muscle tissue weighs more than fat. This isn’t a sign that the fitness program has failed. Rather, it’s a successful outcome. Even with a net gain in body weight, you’ll be healthier, trimmer, younger-looking, and more upbeat than ever!
If physical exercise is so beneficial to improving health and quality of life, why don’t more people do it on a regular basis? There are as many reasons as there are inactive people. It puzzles me that someone can know all the health benefits of regular exercise and still choose a sedentary (“couch potato”) lifestyle. Excuses are as numerous as an army of ants. “It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have the right shoes/right outfit.” The list goes on and on.
To keep myself motivated, I listen to my body tell me how good it feels to take care of my daily duties. As a result, I keep up with my children better, clean my house better, and garden more energetically. I’m just better at all of my daily activities and can do more before I feel tired. With activities built into my daily life, I no longer have excuses to avoid exercise. To use an additional example, I try to climb stairs instead of using the elevator, realizing that the little things I do will add up over time. Rather than looking for ways to fit activity into my life, I see to it that activities make up my life.
As a nutrition specialist, you will deal with this issue of excuses time and again. One thing I’ve learned is that belittling people for their inactivity or for the way they look will not motivate them to exercise. The best way to get others to adopt and stick to a fitness program is to lead by example. Show that you are in great shape and that exercise keeps you slim, healthy, and positive in your approach to life’s ups and downs. Turn yourself into a walking (or running) advertisement for the active lifestyle you advocate, and you’ll be more likely to motivate others to follow in your footsteps!
Nutrition, Diet, and Health Science Instructor