This is a question that is often finished with “to lose weight”, “to get bigger” or insert your health related phrase here? Recently whilst on Reddit which I do frequent from time to time I responded to a post asking “I want to lose weight but I hate the gym. What can I do?” Now I could have posted a link to thousands of articles written by myself and many other very experienced and intelligent people. But instead I posted “The Question is not what we recommend, the question is what do you like?”
This is really the crucial question for everyone. I could go on and on about recommendations and science and some may take the advice at least for a little while. But the only things the keeps anyone and everyone coming back is finding something that they enjoy rather than doing something they think they should. You don`t need to do any research to know that people will more likely do what they enjoy rather then what they don’t enjoy. This poster hit the nail on the head “I hate the gym”. I find that so often with patients and people I speak with. They don`t like the gym and think exercise requires mandatory gym attendance. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as "any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature." Most people often equate exercise to the above definition and think boring running or walking on a treadmill for ages. It certainly bores me thinking about it. But the thing to note about that definition is that it is very broad. This gives you and I a lot of room to play and be creative.
I want to let you in on little secret often in education and motivational interviewing the teacher or interviewer will ask open ended questions and may do this “what do you think the answer is?” We do this when interviewing someone for lifestyle changes and it works. The aim of this questioning is to force the person to give themselves answers and convince themselves of the change. Sales people will do it, they ask “on a scale of one to ten how much do you want this product?” The interviewer will then follow it up with “why wasn`t it a lower number?” They use it to get to the core of any problems and get you to convince yourself that you need this product. Have you ever had this happen? We use this to expose ambivalence. Now you may begin to see the connection to the previous paragraph. The definition of physical activity might be very broad but encompasses a lot of easy to do activities that most don’t consider. Like for example increasing your N.E.A.T (non exercise activity time) I recommend it in my weight loss activity checklist. For instance walking further to work or climbing extra stairs instead of taking the lift. Kicking the footy with friends, doing gardening all ways to improve your N.E.A.T.
When asking “what should I do to achieve something?” often it is best to ask yourself first. You may not know what you need to do but you do know what you like. That first and biggest step to taking responsibility to find what YOU like. This will increase the likelihood of adhering to your goal.
Now as a little addition you may have read this article and said I hate any physical activity. Really? Do you like video games? They can be used to create physical activity. Find out what you really like and use it to get physical, there is always something. The one thing I have found through all ages is that exercise that`s disguised as a game and is fun will turn everyone into an exercise lover without them knowing it.