By Terence T. Gorski, Author (see Gorski Books)
Keep up on walking. That has been my battle cry for the last ninety days. Hopefully I will get in the habit of using this battle cry every day for the rest of my life. Why do I need to walk regularly and motivate myself with a battle cry?
I have developed series health problems resulting from the long-term consequences of compulsive working and the stress that goes along with a work-a-holic lifestyle.
A regular and consistent program of aerobic exercise is one vital step in my plan to achieve the goal of regaining my health so I can continue to life a life if sobriety and responsibility that has always been the foundation of making professional contributions that have greatly enhanced my sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
I developed appropriate goals for integrating aerobic exercise in the form of walking. I carefully developed my plan to integrate walking into my lifestyle using evidenced-based principles as a foundation of the planned lifestyle change.
So far the plan us working but I realize the changes I have made aware still fragile. I am at a critical 90-day point in the habit change process and need to be vigilant for relapse warning signs. My accomplishments over the past ninety-days are critical to my health and have required disciple and support from others.
As a result of setting realistic goals, developing an effective plan, and using other people for social support and motivation has had positive results.
I have put in a minimum of 10,000 steps per day since February 25, 2015 when I got my wrist monitor (I use the Fitbit, but there are other similar tools available in any sports store. The Fitbit allows me to monitor my compliance withe the plan I developed and provide instant feedback on where I am at in meeting my goals each day. My experience is validating my belief that “you need a plan to change major aspects of your lifestyle and “you get what you measure” so your plan had better be concrete and specific.
I have found that there are days of high motivation where I feel motivated and excited about following the plan. There are also days of low motivation and discouragement that make me want to quit.
I have capitalized upon the days of high motivation and made them “growth days” usually putting in over 20,000 steps per day. In order to capitalize on these days I had to make walking a top priority. To do this I began getting in the habit of scheduling a minimum of 10 minutes of walking four times per day (morning, noon, dinner time, and before bed). I carefully monitor my self-talk to catch my automatic negative thinking (ANTS) regarding the importance of keeping a four times per day walking schedule.
On the low motivation days I ask people in my support network to check in with me and hold me accountable to meet my minimal goal which is currently 10,000 steps per day split into for minimal walks of at least 2,500 steps.
I have found I have both a “Fitness Self” that values exercise, wants to be, recognizes the importance of a four times per day walking schedule.
I also discovered that I have a “COUCH POTATO SELF” that believed I’ll feel better being inactive and believes a regular habit of exercise is an awful and terrible thing and that I don’t really need it.
The dynamics are very similar to the dynamics of relapse that proceed a return to addictive use, which usually is proceeded by breaking realistic recovery commitments and by doing so breaking new patterns of sober and responsible behavior before they can become an automatic and unconscious part of my daily lifestyle.
Lifestyle change to include healthy, sober, and responsible habits required disciple and support.
I use The Fitbit to monitor my walking and get instant feedback on my number of steps, top in my cardiac zone, and distance.
My experience with the Fitbit had really validated my belief that “you get what you measure” is a valid principle in building a sober and responsible lifestyle. It has also confirmed my belief that lifestyle change is difficult and requires both a well developed plan and social support.
GORSKI BOOKS: PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR RECOVERY AND RELAPSE PREVENTION