Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is physical activity 80% mental?

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

I wish that I could say physical activity comes easy for me, but I'd be lying.  Because I'm a dietitian, it seems like some people believe that something in my genetic code makes me immune to having challenges with being physically active.  Unfortunately, that's wrong.  I've heard that they (whoever they is) say that physical activity is 80% mental.  I believe it!  In fact, a review of 50 studies involving modifying health-related behaviors, perceived barriers were identified as the most significant predictor of health behaviors.
A little over a year ago, I had my second little one.  When I was finally given the go ahead, I was eager to get back into running, something that I've enjoyed for years now.  Even though I wanted to run, I wasn't.  The more I thought about the logistics of running, the more I thought about the barriers to running, mostly physical.  The best time to run was going to be when it was just me and the kids. No husband, no sitter.  So that meant me pushing my 33 lb double-wide jogging stroller two kids weighing in at 40 lb and counting.  Then there was my route. The best route for me to take involved running on sidewalks that are sometimes uneven, curvy, and narrow.  And there is the big, long hill, and since what goes up must come down, that makes two hills!  Hills and I...we sometimes don't get along.  When I thought about running, these things came to mind, and all I could think was, "How was I going to push this heavy, hard-to-maneuver double jogger with two kids through this obstacle course?"

I continued to think "How?" for quite a while until one day I stopped.  I decided that I wanted to go on a run with the kids, got myself and the kids ready, and I just went.  As I faced each of those barriers that I'd mentioned before, I realized they weren't as bad as I'd made them out to be.  If I had uneven, curvy, or narrow paths, I took it slow.  When I came upon the hills, which basically has all of the above, I took it one step at a time and it was not bad at all!  Was it easy? No, but it definitely wasn't something I couldn't do.  What I realized is that all of those so-called physical barriers weren't physical at all.  They were perceived...psychological.

When facing these types of challenges in the past, one strategy that has often worked for me is the "Just do it!" strategy.  I just don't know what took me so long to do it this time;)  To quote Rick Warren, "Feelings follow action.  It's easier to act your way into a feeling than feel your way into an action."  So many times, when I just go for it, I feel more like going for it.  And I have. In fact, I added a third member to my running crew a little while now 10-month old boxer.  Yep, it's me, the kiddos, and my boxer going on runs together.  I never imagined this!  It makes me wonder what else is possible!

I thought I'd leave you with the following video about an amazing father and son -- Team Hoyt.  It is truly worth the watch.  What an inspiration! 


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