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Q and A for Making a Healthy Lifestyle Change

Jessica Creasy

WVU Sport and Exercise Psychology

I don't like to exercise. What do I do?

While some people enjoy working out on a treadmill or some other piece of equipment, there are plenty of us out there that would rather do anything but spend time in a gym. The good news is some of your favorite or routine activities can probably be counted as part of your daily physical activity, including walking the dog, taking stairs at work, gardening, and housework. In addition, some people find that exercise is more enjoyable when they listen to music, read a magazine, or talk with a friend while they are active. So try getting to the gym with a buddy or a good book the next time you want to work out!

My family eats out a lot; how can we make good choices at a restaurant? 

There are several options for making healthy choices when eating out. One is to check the Internet to see if the restaurant has a menu posted online. This allows you to pick out healthier options ahead of time, and limits the likelihood that you'll make impulse decisions that might not be so good for you once you get there. Another strategy is to ask for a to-go bag when your meal is first brought to the table and immediately setting half your entrée aside. Most restaurant portions are enough for more than one meal, and this will allow you to eat less at one serving and have some left over for the next day. Finally, you can order an appetizer as your entrée, or split several entrees among a large party to help cut down on big portion sizes.

I just don't have time to work out! 

More than likely there is time in your schedule - it just may take some extra tweaking to figure out how to work exercise into a busy routine. Try using a planner to schedule workouts into your day like you would a meeting or appointment. And remember, exercise can be accumulated in small bouts throughout the day, so scheduling in three 10-minute walks during the day can be as effective as one 30-minute session. Another strategy to try is to pack your gym bag the night before and place it in your car. This will give you no excuse not to hit the gym after work or school, and you won’t have to return home to change first. Finally, if you have a busy family life, try working exercise time into family time. Plan walks or bike rides with the kids so that you'll all get to spend time together and be active simultaneously.

I find myself eating without realizing it. How can I control my "mindless" eating?

One of the best ways to help control eating habits is to keep a journal of everything you eat. No cheating! This means that you need to record every bit of food (including condiments and sauces) and drink that you consume. It may also help to note the time of day, what you are doing, and what you're feeling when you are eating as well; this may help you to notice certain patterns that may be present in your eating such as turning to food when you are stressed or upset. Once you are aware of when you are more likely to eat and what's causing you to turn to food, you'll be able to plan for some alternatives to eating. Instead of mindlessly snacking at lunchtime, try calling a friend or going for a walk. If you find that you munch on ingredients while you cook, try chewing on gum. The key is knowing what triggers your eating and planning ahead to combat it.

I get frustrated when I don't see results quickly, and therefore I don't stick with a program for long. What can I do?

It can be very frustrating to put a lot of effort into weight loss and not see immediate results. The important thing to remember is that being active and eating right is key to good health, regardless of weight. So though you may not be able to see your heart getting stronger and your risk of diseases such as type-II diabetes decreasing, you're still doing great by your body when you work out. It may also help to focus on some of the other benefits of exercise, including reduced stress, better mood, and improved sleep. Most people agree that being active gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps them feel good about themselves. So don't let slow progress get you down - celebrate all small successes and build on those positives. Remember - you're getting healthy!