Health

Monday 22 September 2014

Mind Your Step

Forget diets – just make small changes and start right now

Exercise is important, and parents should lead by example

I had two interesting conversations with two very different men during the past week. "I love to exercise," said the first man, "and I know all the benefits of it for my body, spirit and mind. But there's a huge amount of pressure at work and with a small family the bottom line is . . . I simply don't have the time. Maybe in a few years when things settle down, but not now." You could say he's on the negative-blaming Red Platform.

Amazingly though, this man is a fair representative of the one in three Irish people who say that they never exercise. It is shocking to discover that the number of people in this country who take exercise regularly is as low as 16pc. And it gets worse. At 16pc we are Europe's top performers, according to the European Commission. On average, only 8pc of Europeans say that they take exercise regularly.

Later, I needed to phone a friend about another matter and found that he was in flying form.

"For the past 10 years I've been trying to lose a stone and a half. No use. Nothing worked. I went on diets and off diets. Then for Lent, this Ash Wednesday, I decided to just go to the pool beside the gym every morning for 40 days. I didn't set out to lose weight. No pressure except the one promise I made to myself.

"To go every morning. For 40 days, I would wake up, get up and go to the pool. Just go and go every single day for 40 days. That was my commitment to myself, and I'd see what Easter would bring. Now the strangest thing has happened," he said.

"We're not near the end of Lent yet, but I've lost 21 pounds already. When I'm at the pool, sometimes I swim or go to the gym, but the key thing is I'm there every morning come hail, rain or shine."

You could say he's on the 'if it is to be it is up to me' Green Platform. Here are five things that maybe you too could do:

Step 1: Make a commitment to yourself and, if it helps you, share it with somebody else who will support and encourage you;

Step 2: Come up with an exercise plan that is about you as a whole person. Make it easy to stick to. Don't wait for the right time. The right time is now;

Step 3: Don't go for an 'all-or-nothing' way of thinking, dieting and exercising. Make those small changes that will bring results over time;

Step 4: It's all about direction, not speed;

Step 5: Make the daily time for exercise a habit, rather than making excuses. Ideally we should be moderately active for 30 minutes at least five times a week.

To diet or not to diet? That is the question. Forget diets. Think life change. Losing weight isn't about starting a diet. It's about making small, consistently healthy adjustments that you are going to fit into your daily life.

'Being on a diet' sends a message to your subconscious that you'll come off it. Build in the small changes so that they can become permanent and a daily pattern in your life.

We are not given a good life on The Green Platform or a bad life on The Red Platform. We are given a life. It's up to us to make it either good or bad. The platform and the choice is ours. Don't live today as if it were your last. Live today as if it were the first . . . of your next 40 days of transformational change.

Declan Coyle's book 'The Green Platform' is now available in all good bookshops.

Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland winning teams. declan@andec.ie

Irish Independent

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