A Healthier You:
How to Get Motivated for the long run to be Physically Active
By, Kathryn Gentile
I’m writing this introductory blog with the hope that it will help your desire and motivation to increase your physical activity levels. We all have a lot going on in our lives whether it be work, school, family matters, or personal. It’s incredibly common to hear people say that they were doing great with their workout and then just lost interest, got too busy, or weren’t seeing results so they saw no point. I first want to give a brief outline that in future blogs I will develop and expand on these topics. I’m writing this to help you stay motivated on a program that increases your physical activity for the long haul. I can guarantee there’s something out there for you or a reason to keep moving.
What’s most important?
First, you should remind yourself that even if you aren’t seeing progress on the scale you are bettering your health and decreasing your risk for complications significantly. Additionally, the most unhealthy fat, “visceral fat”, is the first to go. This is the fat stored in the abdominal cavity that surrounds important internal organs. For many, it helps to make exercise more about health, rather than just for vanity reasons.
Tracking Your Progress.
Weighing yourself everyday and seeing no change or even an increase can really kill your motivation. If you want to track progress, a better way would be to do waist to hip measurements or skin-fold testing. This way, you’ll see you’re losing unwanted fat even if the scale doesn’t show the results. Additionally, you can take “progress photos”. Remember, change can’t happen overnight and healthy change is often slow and steady.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations.
Many of my clients have diabetes related exercise issues and it has always been a passion of mine to help these individuals with their programs. I too have exercise challenges related to diabetes and I instruct my clients that if your blood sugar drops and you see it “go low” during your workout, try to figure out how to combat the downward fluctuation. I personally learned the strategies on how to do this from the Integrated Diabetes Services team lead by Gary Scheiner, author of “Think Like a Pancreas”. Adjustments are often necessary and it will be a learning curve but remind yourself that it’s worth the effort. Common suggestions are basal decreases prior, small snacks prior to or during, exercising within 2 hours after a meal, or sports drinks during the activity. Additionally, if you still go low you don’t have to consume all the calories just burned. Rather, treat your low with something like glucose tabs with only 5 calories each that will bring your blood sugar back up quickly. Resistance training can have the opposite effect of increasing blood sugars during the workout due to hormone stimulation. Still, insulin sensitivity is improved for approximately 24 hours after your exercise activity. Additionally, it has been shown that combining different anaerobic and aerobic exercises during a workout can help combat lows (Ridell et al.) A great resource is Christel, author of “Fit With Diabetes”, also known as Diabetes Strong.
Physical Activity is proven to help you feel better mentally. When you exercise, chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin are released. This will help improve anxiety symptoms, energy, depressive symptoms, and reduce stress.
Something To Keep In Mind.
Resistance training burns calories and increases muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories burned. You should also include cardio training. Cardio is what improves cardiovascular health. I would recommend a combination of both anaerobic (Resistance/shorter duration exercise bouts) and aerobic (Cardio, longer duration session) training.
I look forward to expanding upon these ideas listed before, but for now here are some additional tips to remain physically active going forward:
- Hire a personal trainer (like me) And if not me, one who has training in special populations. Look for an accredited certified trainer or try to get a recommendation for someone who understands diabetes.
- Try different types of exercise.There’s endless ways to increase your daily activity levels.
- Sign up for a small group personal training class (RipFit) here for peer motivation.
- Get involved in an athletic league like basketball or soccer.
- Find a time of day that would typically work with your schedule and make that your dedicated exercise time.
- Try to find a workout partner.
- Write sticky notes of encouragement and put them where you’ll see them.
- Take screenshots to remind yourself of your post workout improved insulin sensitivity.
- Download exercise apps.
- Join a fitness page on social media.
- Come up with goals and challenges for yourself. Follow “fitness inspirations” on social media.
- Follow “fitness inspirations” on social media.
- Plan workouts ahead of time.
- Have a workout “split” ex. Monday-legs, Tuesday-Shoulders, Wednesday-Back and Bis, Thursday-Rest, Friday-Cardio, Saturday-Chest and Tris, Sunday-Rest.
- Listen to music, watch TV, or a podcast during to distract yourself.
- Smart devices now encourage you to get moving-consider a smart watch to help you track your activity.
- Go in the morning, that way if something comes up later on it won’t cause you to miss the gym. Plus, you’re less likely to go low during morning workouts.
It can be hard to keep up motivation. Think of going to the gym like taking your daily medications. It will help you feel better both physically and mentally. The time and effort you put in is going to help you avoid complications. No workout is a bad workout, and increasing physical activity is incredibly beneficial. Make this next year a time that you will become proud of yourself for working to improve your health!
Reference: Ridell, M., Scott, S., Fournier, P., Colberg, S., Gallen, I., Moser, O., . . . Bracken, R. (n.d.). The competitive athlete with type 1 diabetes | SpringerLink. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-020-05183-