Don’t Weight Issue 11

How to Exercise

In the last issue I talked about why (and why not) you should exercise.  Exercise is so incredibly beneficial to our wonderful bodies, they thrive on it…whether or not you lose weight when you do it.  What I most want to do in this issue is to provide information and inspiration to help you get moving, to want to move, using your mindset to help you do it.   I hope to give valuable information to the “couch potatoes” and the “road-runners” out there!  (I love you all!)

You can go to the American College of Sports Medicine for in depth activity guidelines.

Think of these as general targets.  Once you get into an exercise habit, (I think) it’s hard not to WANT to exercise.  But if you are just starting out or starting out again, these guidelines are a great reference.

ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines for activity for most adults are depicted in the graphic above.  If you are concerned that you might not be ready or well enough to exercise you can use the PAR-Q questionnaire to get an idea of when you should get medical clearance.

For cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) benefit, you should exercise at moderate intensity.  Here is a good tool to assess your exercise intensity.

Many of these “official” recommendations omit a very important recommendation, and that is to train authentically, as you move as you live…in all 3 planes of motion.  Forward and backwards, side to side, and turning/twisting.  My friend, colleague and physical therapist extraordinaire, Eileen Kopsaftis is super skilled at teaching this.  You can try a  workout at no cost or obligation (other than an email).  Go here  and click on “try a class for free”.   You can do this no matter your fitness level, Eileen gives plenty of modifications.  You can also check out her website for information about many of her no cost bootcamps.

Another common misconception is that exercise needs to be painful to be beneficial.  TOTAL.MYTH.  Exertion, challenge, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, may be, uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean they should be painful.  If you are in pain when you train, you can complicate injuries and limit potential for both healing and developing fitness.  The body will compensate to protect a painful part, but eventually it can no longer compensate and injury is finally noticed (even though it may have been developing for some time, because you were performing exercise repeatedly with pain.  Don’t repeat something that hurts (but you can modify!).  Now, you may get sore muscles, a day or two after a workout.  That’s normal, and it’s ok (I actually appreciate it sometimes-it’s that reminder, that yes, I did something that was challenging!  Go me!)


  1. Consider what you want to do:
  • What do you enjoy (this might take some exploration)
  • What kind of exerciser might you be? (indoor/outdoor, group/solo, teams sports/gym routines)
  • What do you need? (Shoes, clothes, gym or pool/water access, a safe place to walk)
  1. Know your starting point-and start there
  • How far/how fast/how long can you ….(do whatever it is that you want to do). How do you feel afterwards and/or the next day?  DOCUMENT THIS…it will be so fun to look back at it and see your progress!
  • As long as you can breathe, even if you are bed bound, you can work on your fitness. You can do breathing exercises and visualization of exercise.
  • Work first to establish consistency of your practice.  Establish a habit, find the feel good-then work to PROGRESS your frequency, duration and intensity of exercise.
  1. Prepare for resistance thoughts and stories
  • Time-if you struggle with finding time to exercise, it may be because you have made something else a greater priority (that’s not a feel bad statement, but something you want to be aware of). Look at where you spend your time, treasure and talent…those are your priorities.  You may need to learn to manage time better, get better at sneaking exercise in…or breaking it up into smaller increments.  (see consistency notes below)
  • Busy-ness-some of us mistake being busy and the fact that we are exhausted with physically working our bodies. A lot of modern day business is done from a desk chair, car seat, plane seat, tv watching chair.
  • Being too sick or in pain-movement/exercise can and SHOULD be a part of healing. You must work to resolve underlying causes of illness and pain.  You can engage in exercise at whatever level you are able (see above re. breathing/visualization)
  • “I don’t know how”-you can learn (see Eileen’s free class link above), walking is something we have already learned 😉.
  • $$-walking is free, some gyms/fitness centers can offer “tuition assistance”, seniors (over 50) often get discounts, or access to senior centers.
  • Intimidation/fear that you can’t.  Start at YOUR starting point. It may be one lap around your kitchen table.  After a couple of days maybe you do that lap 3-5 times a day.  Then you maybe walk up a flight of steps too…and you just keep going!  You are on your way.   If you are intimidated by how others might see you or treat you-try to get some support for yourself.  Ask a friend to join you…look for groups that cater to your situation (illness or size).

To Get (and to Keep) Moving YOU

  • Make a commitment to what you will do NOW.
  •  Set goals (goal worksheet in coaches corner)
  • Schedule time to learn what you need to learn, get what you need to get and then to DO.
  • Notice and ENJOY the rewards

Mindset Matters Most

Be aware of how you think about and talk about exercise.

You may want to call it play, movement, sweat health equity, call it whatever makes it appealing.

Catch yourself referring to exercise as punishment or as a payoff for indulgence.  If you think of it as painful or torture, well goodness, who will feel inspired to do that???  Recognize your resistance with compassion and patience for yourself.

Make exercise YOUR CHOICE, not something imposed on you. (and that goes for exercising or NOT exercising)  There may be some in your circle who don’t want you to exercise, for all sorts of reasons…don’t let them make your choice anymore than someone telling you you SHOULD exercise.

The payoff for exercise can be hard to appreciate in the moment (you can do a 30 minute workout and still be unfit at the end of it).  Find your payoff and savor it.   Be on the HUNT for the positive thoughts and feelings about your exercise.

  • I survived!
  • I really really was tempted to procrastinate or blow off my work out, but I didn’t. I feel good about that!
  • I enjoyed a little alone time
  • Once I got over “getting going” it felt kind of good! (as the body initially responds to increased demands, the heart, lungs, muscles are working to meet them it is more notable, but eventually the body reaches more of a steady state, so know that that initial “OMG this sucks” you might experience is only temporary.)
  • Be amazed at how your body responds, the wonder of your heart pumping faster, harder, your body sweating to cool you, your muscles warming as blood is drawn into them to meet the work demands). We don’t have to tell our body to do ONE BIT of that.  Isn’t that beautiful??  YOU, your body, yes, it’s beautiful!!!  This body response is evidence of you doing a great job  taking good care of yourself.  You.
  • I’m spent-sometimes that is such a good feeling, KNOWING you worked hard at something so important (without pain of course!)
  • I am so grateful that I CAN do this (WHATEVER it is that you do)

This may sound strange, but I love when I get “salty” after a workout.  I can taste the sweat on my skin.  To me that’s my confirmation that I did something that was hard for me, I finished it, and it’s not something everybody does.  I enjoy that.

Final Note

As I said, we have kicked off summertime, which I love!  Summer usually involves a lot of opportunities to do some fun stuff, some of it more active or physical.  We can go to parks, hike, play tennis or pickleball (all the rage these days!), go bike riding or swimming.  It’s a great time to take advantage of being outdoors (which is an important ingredient in the “recipe for optimal health” as well).

And it can get hot.  So hot we wear less or smaller clothing (shorts, bathing suits, sleeveless tops)

For some, especially those who are uncomfortable with their weight or size, these activities and these smaller clothes can be kind of intimidating.  You might even think that you can’t or won’t do them UNTIL you lose weight.

Save yourself from that kind of thinking!  Do what you want to do NOW.  You don’t have to be a specific size to wear shorts or a bathing suit.   You don’t have to be a certain size to deserve to dress in cooler clothes.  Make modifications for your size, health or any injuries you might be healing from, but allow yourself to do what you want to do and allow yourself to enjoy yourself while you do it.  I am thinking about doing an issue addressing how to exercise in a larger body-would you be interested in that?  Reply yes or no here


Coaches Corner

Exercise Goal Setting Worksheet

Mindset Reset for Exercise (recording)