Running on EmptyI was late for work, hurrying for the door, when I splashed coffee down my new jacket. That was the last straw. I thought, "I don't need this kind of hassle." So I called in sick and turned on a comedy channel. No chuckles there. So I took a long walk and made a serious personal inventory.
I knew I had overreacted, and I realized I was going to crash and burn if I didn't do something to help myself. Here's what I was up against: My boss promised me a promotion when I earned my MBA. So I was trying to balance my job, night school and time with my girlfriend, Danielle. I was lucky to sleep five hours a night. I was also trying to quit smoking — and mainly just gaining a lot of extra weight.
That walk left me energized and refreshed. It reminded me of when I was fit, so I decided to do something about it. I started walking regularly. I keep my walking shoes in my car, leave work early on school nights and walk before my classes. How's it going? Well, I'm sleeping better, feeling better and working better. Go figure!
Check Your Choices
What motivates you to change? Can you identify with some of Joe's issues? He realized he was juggling too many things and had dropped the most important one — his health. Have you ever felt like your life was directing you instead of you directing your life? Almost everyone has experienced those times.
Think back to when you consciously chose a different direction or activity that positively
What motivated you to make that change?
How did you feel afterward?
Create a Short-Term Action Plan
Focus your energy on completing your daily goals for this week. Each week will build on the next, and your short-term goals will become the building blocks for long-term goals. An example would be to gradually increase the amount of time you're physically active until you're accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. Aim for a total of at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 90 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of the two. Re-read Joe's story and notice how he began with small steps that he knew he could accomplish.
Guidelines for Creating Short-Term Goals
1. Specific, realistic goals will help you achieve the things you really want.
2. Record your choices every day.
3. Reward yourself — you decide how — for reaching your daily and weekly goals. Choose in advance what your prize will be for thinking and learning more about being active. The more you learn about being active, the greater the likelihood that you'll become active on a regular basis.
Creating a Plan of Action
Identify several pockets of inactivity this week that can become active times. Look for opportunities to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity during your day. It's OK to break them up into 10-minute segments if you can't find 30 continuous minutes. Be sure to record how you feel on your log sheet after each activity session.
Samples of Short-Term Goals
Goal No. 1: By the end of the week, I'll find 30 minutes of inactivity in my day for at least five days and turn them into physically active minutes.
Goal No. 2: By the end of the week, I'll read two new articles about the benefits of being physically active.
Goal No. 1
By the end of the week, I will accomplish the following action:_________________________________ Accumulate _______ minutes of moderate intensity physical activity _______ days of the week.
Goal No. 2 (optional)
By the end of the week, I will accomplish the following action:_________________________________
Check Your Choices
Choosing healthy foods doesn't mean you have to live on rice crackers and water! Instead of choosing foods with little or no nutritional value, choose some that taste good and are high in nutrition. You'll get the biggest nutritional "bang" for your calories, and you'll likely have more energy, too.
This week, replace a low-nutrition/high-calorie snack with one of the high-nutrition snacks listed in the chart below. Choose one that you really believe you can do and add it to your week's goal. Read nutrition labels carefully for serving sizes.
This content was last reviewed on 7/5/2012.