The best way to stay motivated to exercise is to set realistic and measurable goals for yourself. Here are a few tips to help you build your goal setting skills.
Goals should be your own. If you are trying to achieve someone else’s goal (e.g. “I’m participating in this program because my husband wants me to lose weight”), chances are you won’t be successful in the long term.
Goals should be specific. “I want to exercise more” isn’t specific enough—how do you know when you’ve “exercised more”? A better goal would be “I want to exercise 4 times this week for 15 minutes each time”.
Goals should be achievable. For the person who is just beginning a power-walk program, it would be unrealistic to set a goal of “I will power-walk every day this week for 2 hours”. Start off slowly and work your way up.
Goals should specify completion dates or time frames. Consider this goal: “Over the course of the next week, I want to exercise 4 times for 20 minutes each time”. This goal statement specifies a time frame for completing the goal — within one week.
TIPS FOR STAYING WITH IT
Establishing realistic and achievable goals is key to a successful and ongoing exercise program. There are many steps you can take to help you “stay with the program”. For example:
Choose the right equipment. For example, if your hips, knees or ankles hurt from walking, it could be that you don’t have the right shoes! Consult with a reputable athletic shoe dealer for advice on the best athletic shoe for you to wear when you walk.
Establish a time and place. Include when and where you will exercise as part of your weekly planning activity. You may want to experiment with different times of the day for exercise and find a variety of places where you can do your different exercise programs — e.g. parks, malls, fitness rooms and places within your own residence. You might, also, consider joining a health club.
Find an exercise buddy. Knowing that another person is depending on you to show up for a power-walk can help you leap hurdles of inertia. And more than one exercise buddy can be helpful too!
Overcome boredom. One way to prevent boredom is to engage in a variety of activities.
Reward yourself & enjoy. If you want to maintain your new exercise program, you must reward yourself for your efforts! Identify and enjoy non-food rewards when you successfully complete your exercise program. For example, upon completion of two weeks of consistent exercise, treat yourself to a new CD or a sweater.
Continue with the activities you did over the past two weeks. This week, add a walking program to your weekly activities. Walking is an easy and portable way to exercise. You can walk nearly anytime (morning, noon, or night), anyplace (outside, indoors—hallways, stairs, malls) or anywhere (home, the office, vacation), and its great for your heart! To get started, walk at least 5 minutes, 4 times during the first week. After one week, if you feel energized by walking, increase your program to walking 10 minutes, 4 times during the second week. If you feel sore or tired after a week of walking, continue with 5 minutes, 4 times per week. And, as always, if the soreness is severe and you are unable to perform your usually daily activities, consult your bariatric surgeon or physician.
Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
6–12 Months Before Surgery
Patients who start an exercise regimen before surgery are twice as likely as those who don’t to have an easy time adjusting to exercising after surgery, according to a Harris survey conducted for ASMBS. But exercise is almost always difficult for people who carry a lot of extra weight. For this reason, starting slow is imperative. If you are morbidly obese and are contemplating an exercise regimen, you should have a cardiac evaluation by your internist. The goal should be 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity three days a week. Some sample exercises:
1–6 Months After Surgery
You should resume an exercise regimen two to three weeks after bariatric surgery. The goal is to increase range of motion so you can take off your shoes, for example, and pick things up off the ground. Strength-training exercises are also important because as you lose weight you will lose muscle. You should work toward 30 minutes of continuous exercise three to five days per week by the time six months have passed. Sample exercises during this stage:
6–12 Months After Surgery
A year after bariatric surgery, you should be able to perform 45 minutes of exercise at least four times a week. Vary workouts so your body is constantly challenged. Strengthening the stomach muscles is also important because it helps improve your posture, which will change as you lose more weight. Some sample exercises:
1 Year–Plus After Surgery (Long-term Maintenance)
Now that more than a year has passed since surgery, you’ve probably lost more than 100 pounds. Such a drastic change can leave many patients thinking that they no longer need to exercise, but exercise is not an option, it’s a must! At this stage the recommendation is the same as that for the general population: 45 minutes of exercise at least four days per week. Sample exercises:
Fun Walk Workouts
As you know, walking is a great way to ‘travel’ and exercise too! Here’s a way to add variety to your walking program. Using the chart below, select and schedule 4 times during the week when you can walk for 40 minutes.
Do program #1 and add the following:
There are other things you can do to ‘spice up’ your walking routines. Consider walking in a nearby park or mall. Find a walking partner or get a family member to join you. Also, use your walk as a time to explore and discover your community.
At this time, you are probably walking for 40 minutes, 4 times per week. To add variety to your program, try the programs noted above. Use Program # 1 for your first 40 minute walk and Program # 2 for your remaining walks. Remember to warm up and cool down. On the days you don’t plan to walk, do stretching and strengthening exercises. And do as many ‘sit down’ activities as possible.
Continue to monitor your heart rate. Adjust your activity as needed—walk faster to increase your heart rate, and slow down if your heart rate is too high.
Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.