Friday, March 13, 2009

Health Stewardship

God has given us life, health, and strength. The only question is, what will we do with that gift? This is called stewardship.

I have no doubt whatsoever what positive role exercise plays in my life. I feel better. I sleep better. I look better. But ... sometimes even that isn't enough to stop me from dragging my feet when it's time, and then when it's past time, to get out walking, hop on the bike, or get to the gym. Are you someone able to tackle things better with a list?

Then's Scott Young's handy checklist could help you make exercise something you might actually want to do.

- Make it a Habit - Take the thinking out. If you can make exercise a habit, then it becomes that much easier to go.
- Get a Partner - Get someone else to go to the gym with you. Pick someone who is committed to their health. Not only can you socialize with someone while you’re there, but you’ll have a backup in case your motivation alone isn't enough to drag yourself out there.
- Tune Your Challenge Level - Here are two bad ways to start exercising. Go out and run until your winded and dry-heaving into a ditch. Show up to the gym, walk around, don’t do anything strenuous and go back home. In one case you put the challenge level to high, the other wasn't challenging at all. Your goal is to set a workout routine that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Challenge is key to enjoyment.
- Set Goals - Not weight-loss or muscle gain goals, but fitness goals. Set goals to beat your past records in distance ran, push-ups or chin-ups you can do, weight you can lift or degree you can stretch. Fitness goals make the gym a game where you strive to beat your previous high-score.
- Get Past Your Comfort Zone - So what if you aren't the most svelte or muscular person in the gym? Self-consciousness can be a big obstacle to enjoying your workout. The key is to get used to it. When you continue to show up, you’ll pay less attention to the people around you and more to your workout.
- Experiment - Don’t stick with the same routine. Change it up! Try different activities. There are so many different exercise routines you can follow or activities to try. If you don’t like lifting weights or running, try sports, martial arts or dancing. Believing that exercise needs to be pumping iron or jogging could keep you from finding something you would truly enjoy.
- Music - This is no surprise. Music can enhance a workout. Get your favorite tunes and get moving!
- Short Workouts - Don’t have time or enthusiasm to last an hour? Just go for twenty or thirty minutes. Shorter workouts can be better than longer ones if the intensity is higher and you become more focused as a result. After an hour or two of exercise your body starts to go into a state where more exercise can actually reduce physical improvements.
- Reward Showing Up, Not Weight Loss - Some people have the idea that they should reward themselves for losing weight or gaining muscle. How about rewarding yourself for showing up to the gym and exercising regularly instead? See, there are many ways you can lose or gain weight in unhealthy fashions. Rewarding exercise is rewarding your commitment to health.
- Make Exercise Your Stress Relief - It's true, and study after study shows that people swear by using the gym as a stress reliever. Some will head to the gym because of a frustrating day even if it isn't on their schedule. Exercising can be cathartic and release negative feelings if you get used to using it that way. Then instead of avoiding the gym because of a stressful day, it will be your reason to go.
- Record Improvements - Journal your journey- the progress and the setbacks of your workouts, and not necessarily recording your weight loss. Recording weight loss or muscle gain is a good idea, but because of the way your metabolism functions it becomes increasingly harder to make weight changes as you go to the gym more regularly. But fitness improvements can, if you work on it, continue to rise. Keep a record of your strength, endurance and flexibility so you can feel proud of your accomplishments.
- Make Time - Stop yourself from that familiar tape you play inside your mind that you don’t have time to exercise. Exercise improves your energy levels and mood which makes you more productive than any time lost. Find your time somewhere in the day and make it a commitment. Get up a bit earlier and go in the morning. Or schedule it right after work before you settle down for the day. Once you make time and make it a habit, you’ll actually want to exercise instead of just feeling you should.

[From John Tesh]