Yeah, well, most of us hate to exercise or at least don’t like it well enough to do it every day.
And any old excuse will do to avoid working up a bit of a sweat: I’m too tired or too achy or too busy or it’s too hot or too cold or too wet or too dark or too windy or too late or too early or too whatever we dream up in our heads.
But Darcy Lamb (hello, Darcy, our sunshine girl!) was different. She offered no excuse – she told me like it was. The truth was simple: she hated to exercise.
When Darcy and I were knee-to-knee in my office over a year ago, she made no bones about it – she wanted to lose weight, once and for always, but she was adamant about one thing: she was NOT going to exercise. She hated to exercise, she had always hated to exercise, and she still hated to exercise. Period. End of discussion.
My motto: when a bull comes charging at you (even a lovely, smiling one), just quietly step out of the way. I told Darcy the only thing I could tell her: “Okay. " So we tailored a food plan for her and completely sidestepped, and not too vigorously, the exercise part of losing weight and building health and fitness.
Two very interesting things happened: Darcy lost weight without exercising (yes, that is very doable), AND, without any prodding from me, in just a couple of months Darcy was doing what we affectionately called the “E" word—that very thing she hated to do! I don’t pretend to know exactly what went on in Darcy’s head—I’m lucky enough to know what goes on inside my head—but somehow she made the shift from hating to exercise and not doing it to, well, not hating it so much (not that she actually liked it) and doing it almost every day of the week. Go figure.
And this is what happened:
“I lost about 28 pounds in 10 months. "
“I have no more heartburn, indigestion, or headaches. I used to take ibuprofen about 5 times a week and now not even once a month. I have more energy, feel like getting up in the morning, and take no more naps in the middle of the afternoon. I wore Capri’s last summer and wasn’t able to wear them before.
“I amaze myself. "
A couple of weeks ago, Darcy called me up at home. She was flyin’ high. If you know Darcy, you know that her exuberant self is not unusual, but she was one notch above her usual high. She had just gotten out of her first or second formal exercise class, something that she vowed to never put herself through, and she was bubbling over with excitement.
“Guess what, Dr. Leslie? I just got out of exercise class. Can you believe it? I was such a klutz—I’ve never had any coordination—and certainly didn’t know what to do, but at least I gave myself and everyone else a good laugh. "
Leave it to Darcy to brighten up the lives of everyone around her, even as she was being tortured AND laughed at.
Now I could be wrong (shhh! mum’s the word), but I think Darcy actually almost liked it—well, almost. She used the fun word, and I think most of us equate fun with “like. "
Hard to believe this was the same woman who, only one year before, had announced that she was not going to move her body any more than she had to – no way, no how, and you can’t make me!
Like Darcy, sometimes we really don’t know what we are capable of until a little jumpstart helps us break through old mental barriers – “I can’t; I won’t; I don’t have to" – and creates new self-awareness that includes words like: “I can; I will; I am and I amaze myself. "
Okay, so exercise may be boring. But what is more boring: walking every day or being housebound because of a paralyzing stroke; joining a water aerobics class or getting a breast removed, not to mention getting sick from the 15 sessions of chemotherapy (just 4 hours of moderate exercise per week reduces breast cancer risk by 37%); riding a bicycle in front of the T. V. or getting a leg cut off from diabetes type 2 caused by too much weight and a sedentary lifestyle?
And as far as the grand daddy excuse of them all, “I don’t have time to exercise, " as I often say to myself to get my you-know-what out the door, exercise doesn’t take time, it gives me time when it counts – at the end of my life.
The next time you try to excuse your way out of taking care of the most important gift in your life – you – think about what your mother or your sister or your daughter or your friend would say if you asked them how important you were to them and whether or not you should take care of yourself – moving your body and feeding it with the best foods for weight loss and energy and health gain.
You may already know that:
=> the government now recommends that the ideal amount of exercise is 60 minutes every day of the week (no, not 30 minutes 3 days a week)
=> muscles burn more calories than fat.
=> the last 10 minutes of a 40-minute work-out are more power-packed than the first 30 minutes.
=> it doesn’t take 21 days to form a habit – try 21 years.
=> we burn 800 fewer calories now than we did 20 years ago.
=> by the age of 70 we lose 50% of our aerobic capacity because we don’t exercise, not because of age.
=> exercise raises metabolism, burning calories much more efficiently, for 24 hours only and then it drops back down again unless you exercise daily.
=> you continue to burn calories even after you stop exercising.
=> sedentary people are 2x more likely to die of heart disease.
=> inactivity kills more people than the combination of all three of the highest risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol IF moderate exercise is included.
=> for good support, walking or athletic shoes need to have a built–in roll bar and motion control (Brooks is a good brand if they fit correctly)
What do you say? What are you waiting for? You may be confused about which foods to put into your body but you certainly KNOW how important daily exercise is. Why aren’t you doing it?
So don’t think, just DO—starting today!
Lace up those sneakers, put one foot in front of the other, and be just like Darcy—be amazed at yourself and all that you are capable of.
Dr. Leslie Van Romer is a health motivational speaker, writer, and lifestyle coach. Visit http://www.DrLeslieVanRomer.com for more inspiration.