September is National America On the Move Month, hooray! So its time to get off your duff and get moving while the Fall weather still provides some fair weather days to do so. America On the Move, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans lead healthier lifestyles, is the unofficial sponsor of this event and while their website isn't perfectly user friendly, it does allow you to track your activity, set goals, participate in social media community and browse a list of articles to help you learn more about eating well, staying active and making positive lasting lifestyle change.
They have a great list of 100 ways to add 2000 steps to your day HERE and its surprising how little it can take. Did you realize that an extra 2000 steps will burn at least 100 additional calories? That might not sound like much when your average restaurant meal in the US is 1,000 calories, but hey - that's half a nonfat latte and every little bit really does count.
An extra trip encircling the grocery store as you shop for dinner, using the bathroom on the far side of the building at your office (if there's more than one) taking the stairs - everything adds steps, burns calories and keeps you moving leading to healthier you.
Lifestyle Change - its a journey
I personally find that lifestyle change towards lasting wellness is a journey. Sometimes you are motivated to change your diet, your exercise habits, the way you mentally process stressful situations, and sometimes you feel like you are struggling and slogging along. As someone who has battled an eating disorder and weight issues, I know it isn't easy and depending on the month and the day, I still struggle myself.
I remember my mom always used to get mad at me as a kid (or teen...) if I used the word "just." She could never agree with the Nike slogan, because to her saying "just do X" or "lets just have..." was grossly inadequate for all the steps and stages of any given activity. As a kid, this lead to many mother daughter arguments, but as an adult I see her perspective. Even fixing a simple one pot dinner involves shopping, cutting, chopping, measuring - with two kids hanging on my coat tails, my mom to care for and my solopreneur Acupuncture practice - I often agree with my mom that there is no "just" anymore.
At the same time I recognize that the Nike-ism "Just Do It" is a state of mind as much as a call to action. When stress and overwhelm get the best of me I feel like everything - even taking a 10 minute walk - is impossible, but when I can take a deep breath and *be* in the moment, I see that everything that needs doing is just another step, and I can only physically do one thing at time anyway. Every step brings me one step closer to whatever my goal is - be it dinner or exercise or bill paying or anything else - and that is all I need; to keep making measured progress and to recognize it as such.
I think the hardest part of any lifestyle change journey is managing those times when you find yourself in the valley, when stress and overwhelm make it feel impossible to "just do" anything. Those are the most important times to have your best wellness tools handy - to keep that (acupuncture!) appointment for self care, to decide the dishes can wait in favor of a walk or some meditation or a few yoga sun salutations.
Make Your Self Care Tools More Readily Available
If you have a hard time accessing your tools - the self care interventions you know you should do and could do easily if you *just* stopped and did them - make them a little more readily available. You can do this by programming a daily reminder in your phone during the most stressful time of day that tells you to BREATHE or reminds you to schedule self care time. You can keep a white board or bulletin board in a prominent place in your house where you post cards or pictures of 10-15 minute self care activities to remind you of things that are easy to do, or find an app for that!
My favorite app is GPS For the Soul by the Heart Math Institute. It uses the camera to track heart rate and gives you a check in with your stress level, and then you can chose any number of short guided meditations and timed breathing exercises to help you calm down and refocus in the moment. Its a simple thing, but sometimes simple works best.
In fact, I am going to make sure to use that app myself today just to check in because you can never do too much to keep yourself on track with decreasing stress and maintaining wellness.
Until next time,
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