Dr. Michelle Segar, of Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center, U. of Michigan, says we’re going about exercise the wrong way. What we’re doing is trying to convince ourselves to exercise to reach a long-term goal, such as weight loss. We must change our fundamental notion of what exercise is. Dr. Segar’s 20 years of research tells her, it is the Elixir of Life.
What does that mean? Elixir sounds like magic to me, and actually, that is almost what Dr. Segar meant. Exercise, done consistently and as a part of our daily living, is almost like a magic potion to our health. The Okinawans of Japan, rightly accepted as the longest lived, healthiest people on earth, live active lives until the end. Our bodies are built to stay in motion, and the action of exercise, even at mild or moderate levels, helps maintain bone density, muscle strength and flexibility.
Okay, just so you know, this is not another article about the benefits of exercise. Unless you’ve been under a media blackout for the last two decades, you have had a chance to be instructed on the health value of exercise at every turn. This is the point of this article: To incorporate exercise into our lives permanently, we need different reasons than we’ve been focused on.
Dr. Segar’s approach to creating lasting motivation, as well as vitality, a sense of well-being, and a positive sense of self requires a reorientation of our thinking about ourselves.
I care about myself. (Translation: You will want to change your physical state out of respect for yourself and your desire to have a good life in a physical sense.)
I am aware. (Translation: I live with purpose, in the present. I pay attention to what I am doing and why, as opposed to an attitude like this: “I let my weight creep up because I eat mindlessly or out of emotional need because of an incident in my childhood…”)
I make decisions for myself. (Translation: My actions and approach to health and well-being are based on what I think is right for the real me and what I need, not the latest fad diet or exercise program. I am taking enough interest in my own health, to be careful about what I do. I expect to change my way of living with an eating program, not go back to old habits as soon as I lose 20 pounds with a fad diet. )
I am honest with myself and value my life goals. (Translation: I understand my role in my life and family, and fully comprehend that to do what I want to, and to be successful, I need energy.)
I am flexible and reasonable with myself. (Translation: I am able to adapt to the reality of my life, as I need to.)
Re-considering yourself could allow you to maintain your personal goals and yet still be with others who did not hold the same philosophy. For example, a person who has adopted this approach would be able to go to a family reunion, face a table full of heart-attach inducing foods and beverages, and enjoy the worst food offenders in small quantities and fill up on the veggie plate. Their respect for themselves would enable them to calmly and firmly stay their course when Cousin Ed derides them for not going back to the table or the liquor cabinet for a second trip. Dr. Segar may be on to something.