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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc

Struggling With Your Exercise Goals? Stop Getting Down On Yourself!

Didn't make it to the gym today? Or yesterday? Even though it was your resolution in January, February and March? A piece of advice I gave a patient yesterday that almost made her cry was 'pat yourself on the back when you achieve your goals, and pat yourself on the back when you don't'. We spend so much time being hard on ourselves, feeling guilty, feeling regretful - and sometimes we need a reminder to just stop. Life is too short to let your mind make you miserable. Furthermore, it may be worth reanalyzing what you expect of yourself, and wether your goals are realistic. If you are busy all day at a stressful job and come home at night to clean the house and deal with little ones who act like they have been kept in a box all day (otherwise known as children), you mightneed to ask yourself what you need more- relaxation or exercise. If taking a night off after you manage to wrestle your kids to bed can reduce your stress and make your week bearable, then that is probably pretty valuable for your health.

The other mistake I see people make is committing to intense exercise regimes in times of chaos. If you are starting a night course on top of your hectic daily routine, or have become the caregiver for a sick parent, expect your relaxation needs to change! Although exercise certainly helps with relaxation for some, if it is not already in your routine and is going to be more of a stress to add, perhaps it is not the best thing to use right now. Or maybe your need to adjust your outlook on what you can resonantly achieve - if you can't get to the gym or your exercise class, choose something you can do at home. Look into streaming some 10 minute workout videos to do in the evening, or get some resistance bands to play with - they are a great tool to have around the house for exercise, and are much more affordable than other equipment out there. Another realistic goal to try and achieve may be going for a 15 minute walk around the block - or recruiting your favorite colleague to come for a walk with you on your lunch break. Even a relatively low level of activity such as this can certainly help with stress levels, blood sugar, mood and heart health. I try whenever possible to help patients find ways they can fit exercise into their every-day life in a way they can enjoy and achieve.

What ever it is you aspire to do – the important take-home message is try not to spend time getting down on yourself if you don't achieve it. Sometimes our body can benefit more from rest and relaxation especially if we are going through an intense time of high stress then it might from cramming a new exercise regime into our evening. Be gentle with yourself and accept what your body needs, readjust your expectations and start again. Stop comparing your abilities with what others can do, and find small victories throughout your day to celebrate. If there is one person you need unconditional support from - it is yourself.

Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc

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