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    Make Exercise Meaningful and Delightful

    fitnessIf you have not been reading this column, the title of this article might surprise you. You might even think the author is out of her mind! Don’t worry, we will clear it up for you.

    Inside Out Fitness is an unusual, and to some, a mind-boggling concept. The premise is that when you listen to the physical cues from your body, you will know the perfect next step on your fitness journey. That’s pretty much it. With Inside Out Fitness, it does not matter what you look like or how much you weigh.

    In order to make exercise meaningful and delightful, you really have to put down the worry of your appearance and weight. If you are always beating yourself up, or using exercise to punish yourself, there is no chance that you will find your happy exercise vibe.

    The best thing about happy exercise, or finding it meaningful and delightful, is that when it feels good you will keep doing it. You may even want to keep doing it. When/if you achieve that mindset, then staying active and fit will be a breeze. That is the wonderful outcome available to you with Inside Out Fitness.

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    The first step in making exercise meaningful and delightful is to make it feel good in the moment by putting down self-flagellation, and instead, only biting off a small mouthful. The next step is to hook it into something fun and important to you. I say “fun” because hooking it into a health outcome will not work for finding meaning and delight.

    Here is an example: I have a client who, at 60 years old, adopted a 10-year-old sweet girl from an orphanage in Russia. That is reason enough to be fit, but she wanted to be able to travel and show her daughter wonderful things. Two of the exercises we always do together are Get Ups and Step Ups (both pretty much what they sound like). A few years ago on a trip to Amsterdam, my client was able to climb all of the stairs at the Anne Frank house. On the same trip there was a houseboat with a very low bed, and my client was able to get up because of the Get Ups we do together. Now, whenever we do Get Ups, it is meaningful to her and she delights in the strength and stamina she has to live her life.

    How do you find your meaning and delight? Look at what you have coming up, or what you might like to do in the next 6 months. For instance, I have a big trip coming up during which I will be doing a lot of walking. Walking is not my best exercise because of lots of “leg drama.” Right now, in preparation, I’m finding ways to build strength and stamina that will improve my walking ability so that I can enjoy my trip. I always have the trip in mind as I’m doing small rehab exercises and taking walks. It lends an excitement to some pretty boring exercises, and makes my path meaningful and delightful.

    Maybe you have a trip coming up, or one you’ve been putting off until you’re in better shape. Maybe you want to be able to take a class, or a class with your dog. Perhaps there is a special hike you’ve been thinking of, or you’ve been contemplating walking with friends or colleagues, enjoying strong and competent strides. You might have considered taking a yoga class, planting a garden, or something else.

    For me, I often think of riding my motorcycle. There are a couple exercises I do every day so that I can ride my bike with relative ease. When I do them, I think of how wonderful it feels to be on my bike, and those exercise moments become meaningful and delightful.

    The next time we’ll look at some really cool outcomes from even just moderate exercise. In the meantime, savor a relaxing walk, do some Get Ups or squeeze your butt 10 times in your chair while you think about an upcoming trip or another activity that may benefit from your added exercise effort.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Find out more at